Call it a eureka moment. Philippe Saad and Anil Nair were wandering the Boston Design Center searching for fixtures for the new kitchen they had designed for their 1890 Victorian in Dorchester when they stumbled upon the Scavolini kitchen showroom. Although they had already selected cabinets for the project, they zeroed in on the Italian manufacturer’s LiberaMente line. The walnut veneer and white glass-front cabinets “were just what we envisioned,” says Saad, an architect and associate principal with DiMella Shaffer in Boston. If the contemporary but conventional cabinets they originally picked were a Cadillac, these were a Ferrari.
Saad and Nair owned the house for eight years before embarking on the renovation. “It’s important to see how you live in a space before you remodel a kitchen,” says Saad, a native of Lebanon who came to Boston 17 years ago to attend school. The existing kitchen, installed in the 1980s, was jammed into an isolated space at the back of the house, with no connection to the outdoors or the dining room. “We are both from cultures where food and entertaining are important,” says Nair, who was born in India, grew up in New York, and is a chiropractic physician and owner at Back to Life Chiropractic & Wellness in Dorchester. The new kitchen meets all of their needs.
They enlarged the space without adding to the footprint by removing an inoperable chimney and relocating an adjacent half bath and laundry room. To create a direct passageway to the dining room, they opened a wall and, much to their surprise, discovered the original butler’s pantry. They converted it into a wet bar.
Natural light floods the kitchen through energy-saving windows and a new glass door, which opens to a deck. French doors in the dining room also lead to the deck, facilitating indoor/outdoor entertaining. The kitchen flooring, quarter- and rift-sawn oak laid in a herringbone pattern, relates to the parquet floors throughout the house; the custom moldings are a modernized version of the house’s original trim.
For all the sleekness of the finishes, this is a warm, welcoming room. Over the cozy corner breakfast nook, the Hindu god Krishna, depicted in a carved wood panel, appears to give his blessing.
■ Design: Philippe Saad and Anil Nair
■ Cabinetry and Installation: Scavolini Store Boston, cucinamoda.com
■ Backsplash: Division 9 Collaborative, division9collaborative.com
■ Wood Flooring: Mass Floor Supply LLCGail Ravgiala, former editor of Design New England, is a freelance writer and editor. Send comments to magazine.com. Follow us on Instagram @BostonGlobeMag.