The Music Hall Kitchen Tour

Visit Kittery kitchens for a worthy cause

MH AK LvRmPhotographed by Greg West The overhead lighting, like all the home’s lighting, was chosen with the help of Rockingham Electric staff. The kitchen flows into the living space with an Eco Firebox providing ample heat in colder months.

For Ann Kendall, this year’s Music Hall Kitchen Tour offers a new perspective on the annual event. Kendall is a long-standing member of the Music Hall board of trustees and co-chair for the Kitchen Tour Committee, but this year her brand-new kitchen will also be featured on the tour. “I’ve been on this committee forever, and now I’m on the other side,” she says. “It is so different being the homeowner after so many years running the tour.”

Kendall became involved with the board in a very personal way. “My husband passed away, and he’d been very involved with the Music Hall—it was a happy thing to remember him by, so I got involved,” she says. Her new home in Kittery, Maine, was purchased after she decided she needed to downsize from her house in York. First came the property, a lot on Barter’s Creek near Fort McClary. The land has a dock and a view of geese, ducks, wild turkeys, and cormorants. “It’s wonderful,” she says. Then came the home design, via plans she found online. “I had this builder I’d worked with for 30 years take the plans and make it mine,” she says. “It’s all view.” In addition to the builder, C. F. Witham and Sons, Kendall worked with Scott Purswell at Dovetailed Kitchens to bring the design to life.

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Kendall’s home style is known as a plat house. The online plans came from architect Gregory La Vardera, who created a house surrounded on three sides by decking, with interiors open to the view. “You can see plat houses being built all over the country,” she says. “Some people make changes—I probably made the most changes, but it’s fun to see all the ways it’s been adapted.” From thinking about airflow to installing a metal roof, Kendall was concerned with making her home as green as possible. “We put awning windows on the north side of the kitchen,” she says. “The coolness comes in from that side—the ventilation in the house keeps it so nice.” Off of the kitchen is a massive deck. “In the summer the doors stay open so the indoor-outdoor space is seamless,” she says.

In her old home, Kendall saw the kitchen as a dead-end space. Her new kitchen flows easily into the living area. “I love entertaining,” she says. “Because it’s such an open space, you can entertain a lot of people at once. I wanted to be able to entertain easily, with my command in the kitchen being the center of it all.” Her friends particularly like the striking black-and-sage-green barstools. “I had chairs made and I sit in them, but when friends come, the barstools are like a magnet; guests watch me cook or help me,” Kendall says.

Lighting throughout the house was coordinated with Rockingham Electric. Eco Firebox of Eliot, Maine, provided the fireplace, which is a greener form of a wood fireplace that radiates heat for hours after the fire goes out. “All the masonry gets heated so that the space is a big, warm mass,” she says. Kendall, inspired by a rug she saw in Australia, designed the one in the living area. In fact, she did most of the decorating herself, occasionally seeking advice from friends.

MH RP OverallThe homeowners keep to a simple palette with a single overhead light providing a splash of color. Tiled floors lead to a combined pantry and laundry room.

The Music Hall Kitchen tour also features three kitchens by Barry Chase of Chase Construction. Chase says he built one of these kitchens as part of a ranch house renovation for a prominent Kittery couple. “It was fun taking an old ’70s ranch house and updating it into something current, something the homeowners will have for years to come,” he says. With architect Paul Gosselin of Salmon Falls Architecture, the homeowners came up with a more modern design that takes better advantage of their oceanfront views. The sunroom and adjoining dining room were opened up to the kitchen, and an adjoining laundry room was revamped as a combined pantry and laundry area.

Granite from Topsham, Maine-based Morningstar Stone and Tile reflects the rocky coastline out the window and covers the counters, backsplash, and center island. The floor below is tile with “a stone or warm concrete kind of appearance,” Chase says. The maple cabinetry was done in Chase’s milling shop, the Webhannet Co. He used ribbed glass in the upper cabinets, providing a glimpse of the glassware inside.

MH RP CabinetDetailIn another kitchen on the tour, granite countertops and backsplash echo the rocky coastline outside, while ribbed glass provides a break in the customized maple cabinetry.

For the Music Hall, the event is months in the making and wonderful in the execution. “The kitchen tour provides the Music Hall with a unique opportunity to raise money in support of our nonprofit theaters while hosting an event that attracts people of all ages interested in design ideas and a peek inside some fabulous kitchens,” says Ashleigh Tucker, the Music Hall’s special events manager.

“It’s so much fun,” says Monte Bohanan, director of marketing at the nonprofit. “Everyone wants to see what innovations people have come up with in their kitchens. It’s such an important room of the house.”

Bohanan has been working with the Music Hall since its ninth kitchen tour; his mother and sisters are regular tour-goers. “The event has really evolved,” he says. “We see so many people who come back year after year. They love seeing the homes and the kitchens. They block off that Saturday in May every year; they’re comparing years of homes every tour.” He notes that this year the event is a week earlier, placing it on the same weekend as Mother’s Day. “It can be a Mother’s Day activity,” he suggests.

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The event guidebook, which is given out on tour day and provides a map of the homes, has taken on a life of its own. “Sponsors are excited to be part of the tour,” Tucker says. “The guidebooks now act as your own kitchen renovation phone book.”

Kendall agrees. “It’s an amazing opportunity for the builders and designers and landscapers and architects to show their work,” she says, adding that previously it was hard to ask sponsors for support: now the sponsors come to them with home ideas.

Lest you think Music Hall employees are ready to relax after so much preparation, do not be fooled. “Next year is the 25th anniversary, and it’s going back to Portsmouth,” Tucker says. “Planning for that has already started.” Mark your 2016 calendars now.

The 24th Annual Kitchen Tour to benefit the Music Hall takes place Saturday, May 9th, from 10am to 3pm. Get tickets here.


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