• The main kitchen strikes a comfortable balance between refinement and utility. Stainless steel "boots" protect the kickspace's outside corners.

    Credit: Michael J. Lee

    The main kitchen strikes a comfortable balance between refinement and utility. Stainless steel "boots" protect the kickspace's outside corners.
  • Equipped as a secondary kitchen, the butler's pantry organizes circulation and activities as well as food.

    Credit: Michael J. Lee

    Equipped as a secondary kitchen, the butler's pantry organizes circulation and activities as well as food.

A butler’s pantry is great for people who like to entertain. But with five children at home, the owners of this kitchen consider theirs an essential piece of family survival gear. Architect Ruth Bennett and kitchen designer/cabinetmaker Paul Reidt gave the storage-and-prep space a generous share of the house’s central pavilion, using it to organize activities as well as food. Equipped as a small secondary kitchen, it serves brilliantly at parties and keeps the kids’ snack-and-drink runs conveniently out of the main kitchen.

The bank of cabinets that separates the spaces offers its zinc-topped surface as a serving counter, a beverage bar, or—for the family’s everyday meals—a buffet. Open shelves above create a porous connection between the two zones. The design team, which included the owners, located walk-in storage for dry goods in the butler’s pantry, as well as a pair of built-in homework stations. “It’s kind of a multifunctional core area,” Bennett says.

The main kitchen’s millwork and finishes strike a note of relaxed formality, tempering a strongly axial plan—and refinements such as rift-sawn white oak floors, black granite countertops, and Carrara marble backsplashes—with areas of barn-inspired horizontal V-groove paneling. The painted-wood and walnut cabinets further the balancing act. Reidt started with bone-simple, almost modernist flush drawer fronts and flat-panel doors, then tweaked the design by beefing up horizontal and vertical elements of the face frame. The resulting shadow lines add depth without resorting to curved edge profiles. A dropped soffit over the wall cabinets moderates the room’s 9-foot ceiling, while a band of flat trim is a simple stand-in for crown molding.


Project: Courtyard Residence, Acton, Mass.; Builder: The Classic Group, Burlington, Mass.; Architect: RBA Architecture, Belmont, Mass.; Interior designer: Susan B. Acton Interiors, Cohasset, Mass.; Photographer: Michael J. Lee. / Resources: Cabinetry: Kochman Reidt + Haigh; Dishwasher: KitchenAid; Freezer and refrigerator: Sub-Zero; Hardware: Baldwin, Blum; HVAC equipment: Buderis; Interior doors: Trustile; Lighting fixtures: Cooper, DanaLite, Juno; Lightolier, Prima; Microwave, oven, range hood: Wolf; Plumbing fixtures: Julien; Paints: Benjamin Moore; Patio doors and windows: Marvin