Open a cabinet to take out a coffee pod in Patrick Sutton’s Fells Point kitchen, and you’ll get a little wake-up jolt: The inside of the cabinet is painted the citrusy shade of an Hermès gift box.
“It’s sort of like biting into a Klondike bar,” says Patrick, 53, a top Baltimore interior designer, whose renovated kitchen looks out on water from two sides.
Patrick fell in love with this house when he and Tracy Kwiatkowski Sutton, then his girlfriend and now his wife, spotted a group of dramatic five-story townhouses from a water taxi on the way to a Ravens game in 2008.
“It caught our eye right away. The views were amazing. We could imagine having parties up on the roof deck,” Patrick says.
They loved almost everything about the house they bought there: the 10-foot ceilings, huge windows and impressive water views from every floor. Everything, that is, except the builder-grade kitchen.
The boring brown cabinetry went only halfway up the wall. The space had poor flow, and the center island cooktop and the sink were opposite each other, making it tough for two people to cook together. Storage was limited. And the island had an awkward, slightly curved top that Patrick dubbed “trendy but not very functional.” So although the Suttons enjoyed the view of the water and the city landmarks while sauteing spinach and watching the Food Channel, the kitchen was not ideal for people who love cooking and entertaining.
So in 2012, when a roof leak created a mold problem, they got the chance to create their dream kitchen. While keeping the same Jenn-Air appliances (they were only a few years old) and the same footprint, Patrick — who has designed some of Charm City’s most fashionable eateries — created a kitchen that is warm, modern and functional.
Crack open one of the elegant brown-and-black fumed-oak custom cabinets, and you’ll discover that familiar orange color Patrick matched to an Hermès box snagged from Tracy’s closet. A tall wall of open shelving, mirrored in the back, holds stacks of white plates and sparkling glasses. A smart redesign of the space under the center island, now topped with black marble, has created a place for pots and pans, spices and cooking tools. The couple like to have a spot for everything. They keep the counters clear, as they often entertain in there.
“We had always planned on redoing our kitchen, but the leak forced us to speed up our process,” says Tracy, 43, an owner of Insurance Inc., a property and casualty insurance agency. “We like clean-looking kitchens, nothing too cluttered. We don’t like a lot of stuff sitting on the counters, but we want our dishes and glassware easily accessible. We’re both really busy during the day, but we love to come home and cook together.” They hoped to spend more time relaxing around the center island with Patrick’s two grown sons and their dog, Stella.
Patrick, whose father was a travel writer, spent his childhood journeying to exotic hotels and dining at fine restaurants. Trained as an architect, he moved to Baltimore and joined an architecture firm in 1985. He opened his own architecture firm in 1994, switching to exclusively interior design in 2004.
Because the couple had lived with the kitchen for four years, they were prepared for the renovation. “We knew how we used it and how to make it better,” says Patrick, who has designed many Baltimore restaurants, including Pazo, Charleston and Loch Bar at the Four Seasons.
“We were going for something that was reflective of the modern aesthetic we had in the rest of our home. But it had to be a functional cook’s kitchen and not just pretty,” Patrick says.
The kitchen, on the second level, is open to the dining and living areas. It has a small desk by the window and a niche for a breakfast table. There was no walk-in pantry, so they had to maximize cabinets to store their three sets of china, party serve-ware and two wafflemakers. An open shelving area now functions as a coffee station and bar. Patrick designed roll-out shelves underneath to hold liquor bottles, coffee pods and bar tools. (He measured Keurig boxes to make sure a row of them would fit snugly into the second drawer.) To make the most of the space above the double wall ovens, Patrick installed three narrow horizontal stainless-steel shelves for cookie sheets and baking pans.
Because the sink was originally opposite the cooktop, they moved it over a bit so two people could be working the stove and rinsing produce at the same time. Above the sink, Patrick designed a wall of sparkly white marble ledgestone (stacked stone in horizontal strips) to lighten the look of the dark cabinets.
For the eat-in area, they used a birch round table, a hanging light fixture that looks like a stainless mixing bowl, and four striking green chairs made of seat-belt fabric. (You might recognize this Phillips chair from “The Hunger Games.”) Four framed vintage life preservers hang on the wall.
The computer station always had a spectacular view, but now it has more style with its black marble workspace, with drawers on either side for files and table linens. Another color surprise: The knee space under the desk is painted Granny Smith green, tying it in with the nearby dining chairs.
Although they can walk to many restaurants, the Suttons often choose to stay in. On New Year’s Eve, the two of them traditionally have king crab legs and champagne in their pajamas. They can sit at the center island and watch the Times Square ball drop on TV and then look out the window and see the fireworks over the harbor. The next day, about 25 people come over for a dim-sum-and-bloody-mary brunch.
“Some weekends we eat all three meals right here in the kitchen,” Tracy says. “I will never get tired of this spot or this view.”
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