Belgian Style

Like many of you, I will spend much of my day in the kitchen helping Sally prepare our Thanksgiving day meal.  (Probably part of today as well if I am honest with myself…)  These past few days I found myself looking at different kitchens and saying to myself, yes, I could prepare our meal in that kitchen. I was surprised to note that many different styles appealed to me. Their common thread was their minimalism – lask of over ornamentation and detail, wonderful use of materials and finishes and pure functionality.


Let’s start with a kitchen that seems to bridge between modern and traditional. I say that because of the echoes of previous generations and cooking, when kitchens were not showpieces. Rather they were lean and functional, tucked away in the basement or a separate building. Yet this is clearly a kitchen of today – integrated into our modern lifestyle. it is stylish, elegant. The walls and ceiling, are finished in modern way using traditional materials.


In contrast, this Belgian kitchen is very contemporary.  Recessed adjustable down lights in the ceiling, very chandelier like in their location. Minimalist detailing of the cabinetry, etc. Yet … the plank like effect of the cabinetry recalls construction techniques of 100 or more years ago, as does the stone floor. Don’t you love the tiny window behind the stove? I do!


Then we move to entirely modern… Concealed hinges, No cabinet pulls. It’a all about materials expressing shape and form. Rigorous symmetry. I love the suggestion of the traditional chandelier over the table using very contemporary lighting. How it snuck in there.


I fell in love with this traditionally styled kitchen, designed by Belgian designer Evelyn Moreels. I know it’s all new construction. But the soft antique finish on the cabinets draw me in. The French oak in the island calls to me, as does the irregular layout of the stone on the floor. Lighting is where you need it. it feels like everything will fall readily to hand in a few steps. the crown molding repeats classical form and profiles. The panel details echo classic French paneling. Fabulous!


Have a wonderful weekend with family and friends!



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Ironically, I am going to start the series with our last 48 hours in Belgium and France. Sally and I awaken in Bruges in our lovely room in our guest house, Bonifacius.


We enjoy a lovely breakfast in the bay window overlooking the canal.


On the train ride to Charles De Gaulle airport, as the gorgeous countryside slips quickly by…


…I remember and replay in my mind the places I have seen and visited, the experiences Sally and I have had.

The canal boat ride in Bruges. I always see things differently from the water.


Lounging in the Luxembourg Gardens, trying to decide which bistro to go to for drinks before dinner with Sally.


Or a relaxing lunch at Les Deux Magots where we visited with the the lovely couple next to us. They had just arrived from Cannes. He to hunt for a week. Their irish setter sat quietly by their table the entire meal! She to visit family and friends.

But I digress.

We board the plane and settle in for the long flight home and then… An announcement is made, the plane has been damaged by a baggage truck and is unsuitable to fly, please deplane while arrangements are made for a new plane.


We are told a new plane will be available in about an hour’s time. I amuse myself by taking pictures of the airport sky.


Long story short, at 8:30 that evening the flight is officially canceled and we are all told arrangements have been made to put us up in a nearby hotel for the night. Our new flight is scheduled to depart the following day at 1 PM. We get our voucher at about 9:30 and are told the shuttle bus is at Terminal 2 Level 1 or something to that effect, see you in the morning. it is then everyone on the plane learns exactly how big Charles de Gaulle airport really is. Arrival at the hotel is somewhat chaotic with checking in and racing to dinner because the dining room closes at 10:30. The accommodations were in “sharp contrast” to the room we woke up in Bruges.

The dining room.


Classy plastic wine bucket…

Elevator lobby.

Nice hall decor…


Morning came and we arose full of hope! Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1 PM. (We were hoping our luggage was going to make it on the correct flight as we had not seen it since we checked in to our canceled flight the day before.) 1 PM, no plane at the gate. 1:30, no plane at the gate. 2 PM it announced we are to be bussed to the plane at the other end of the airport! 350+ people – 2 busses. Eventually the plane is loaded and we take off! (Air France, you had us all wondering…)

The flight was uneventful. Arriving in Boston and the cab ride home felt almost anti-climactic. We lost our day of rest due to the flight cancelation and Thursday was full of meetings. Re-entry was rather abrupt… On the other hand, now that we’re back, going thru the 3,500 plus pictures we took has turned into a virtual vacation.

(LOVE the pan function on my phone!)

Speaking of virtual vacations, our very talented design assistant Kathryn immediately borrowed our trip picture files and has given herself her own virtual vacation, which she will be doing several guest blog posts about – what images spoke/resonated with her and why.



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I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last posted. I admit, it has been a very busy time. In addition to the new construction Neoclassical home we’re working on, we have a renovation project in Newton happening as well. It’s far enough along that Sally and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I thought I’d share a few progress shots.

First, a floor plan for context.  We worked within the kitchen foot print, refining and reconfiguring the layout to respond to how they live today. The major change was converting the back entry area into a walk in pantry. We oriented the home office so it looks out over the back yard and swimming pool, while the mud room off the garage received a full makeover with more storage and places to put down “stuff”, hang keys, charge phones, etc.

For inspiration, we looked to the work of Gil Schafer

and my favorite blogger/interior designer from Belgium, Greet LeFevre.


Sally tweaked the Gestalt of these images as only she can. A little more modern/contemporary and styled to the American palette. Our client selected the hexagonal onyx for behind the range top and stainless steel/glass Miele exhaust hood. (which is not drawn in the sketch.) The walnut and glazed rift cut white oak at the bottom left were selected for the island and cabinetry respectively.

Working thru the exact wash/glaze took some time. Much depended on the color of the wood/veneer it was being applied to. None of these were quite right…


So… what does the kitchen look like?

One of the elevation sketches of the fridge/oven wall in the kitchen.

The kitchen island, with it’s integrated glass top table.

I took these two photographs late last week. The counter tops have just been templated and are in production at Cumar Marble and Granite. The glass table top is in storage and will be installed at the very last moment. The folks from King and Company in New Hampshire were a huge help in engineering and fabricating the table base. Cabinetry is by Detail Woodworking. The floor will be sanded, bleached, glazed and then a painted translucent stone pattern will be added  prior to the usual two finish coats of sealer. (Thank you dave Taubenaek and Zoe Design!)



Family room millwork is in the right foreground…

I’ll cover the pantry, home office and mud room in separate posts.

Sally and I have a few openings in our fall schedule for additional projects. We’d be delighted to chat with you!



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