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A canine connection is the driving force behind this Newport remodel

A kitchen renovation hinged on creating a space for entertainment — for dogs and humans alike.

Caryn B. Davis

The renovation of the kitchen in this Newport, Rhode Island, home started with an unusual connection: The owners and designer Meryl Stern both own Leonbergers, a rarely seen giant dog breed. “They stopped their car and rolled down their window to introduce themselves when I was walking mine,” says Stern. When they purchased this 1850s summer house, they hired her to redesign it. Walls came down, but the original wood beams and floorboards remain. MCM Custom Furniture of Linden, New Jersey, built the white, walnut, and nautical blue cabinetry. The result is a modern take on traditional style, with a homey feel. “They work hard and entertain constantly,” Stern says of the couple. “This kitchen is about food, wine, and friends.”

1 The glass-front refrigerator and full-size wine fridge are the focal points. “The owners knew exactly what they wanted for appliances,” Stern says. “They discussed how everything would look, function, and feel.”

2 The John Pomp pendant lights have mouth-blown sculpted glass globes, and the iridescent shimmer of the bulbs in the other fixtures evokes sunlight bouncing off the ocean. “Everything leads back to the water,” says Stern.

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3 The designer embraced the quirkiness of the old architecture. “We chose to not be bothered by the old structural beam that runs perpendicular to the range hood,” she says. “We didn’t want to erase its character.”

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4 Blue ceramic tile creates a calm field of color that echoes the hue on the island. “We used lot of different materials but kept the colors consistent,” Stern says. “Blue is fitting for Newport.”

5 The walnut bar was designed to look like a piece of furniture. Its zinc top echoes the decorative zinc straps over the range.

6 After some deliberation, the owners settled on quartzite countertops. “They would have loved to use Calacatta marble, but they wanted more durability,” says Stern. “This has the strength of granite with little maintenance.”

7 The counter-height island functions as a prep area, and the bar-height portion is designed for serving and eating. “We left it open underneath for dog beds,” Stern says.

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