The Next Wave – Kelsey Birchenall
Architectural Designer Kelsey Birchenall
Writer: Haley Cote|
Photo by Paige Biviano
Within the last two years, Kelsey Birchenall has gone from designing office spaces as a corporate design intern in New York to designing houses as an architectural designer for Longfellow Design Build on Cape Cod. It was during a trip to the Cape, where she has vacationed her entire life, in the summer of 2016 when the 24-year-old Delaware native discovered Longfellow and their new Chatham showroom. “I thought, ‘This is cool!’” she recalls. Birchenall decided to leave her phone number, and the rest is history. “It’s been great,” she says of working for the firm. “I enjoy making people’s lives easier through design.” Interview by Haley Cote
CCH: What lead you to pursue a career in architecture?
KB: I’ve always loved spaces and, as a child, little nooks and crannies, places to decorate and make my own. When I was little I was always making things—painting, drawing. I knew I wanted to do something that incorporated art and design in a practical way. In high school I went to the Pratt [Institute] PreCollege and studied interior design for a summer, and I realized that I liked it. Architecture was something I considered later on. I got into urban design when I was in college [at Pratt Institute, where she majored in interior design], so it was a culmination of interior and exterior design that lead me into architectural work.
CCH: What is your approach to architectural design?
KB: Here on the Cape, it’s a family lifestyle, so it’s important to know how an interior functions for, in most cases, a second home for people with a lot of family members. Growing up with a second home here, I know what a lot of people on the Cape are looking for. For example, they don’t need a bedroom where someone’s going to stay for a year; they need a bedroom for someone who’s going to stay there a few days on vacation. It’s about understanding the user and understanding what they need. When I was in school, I studied specific users and how they would use interior space. That’s helped me a lot in knowing how to analyze a person’s life and how they’re going to use their space.
CCH: How have you been able to achieve the success you’ve had so early on in your career?
KB: Through hard work—working hard for the client, for the company, and for myself—and by not being afraid to move, because I always saw myself staying in New York. I love being here, so I figured why not take a chance?
CCH: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now career-wise?
KB: I don’t have a set goal as to where I’ll be in 10 years, but I’d like to venture into other areas of architecture and design, such as hospitality and commercial work. I would like to be able to take everything I’ve learned so far and continue to strengthen my skills and be part of a design team.
CCH: When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time on the Cape?
KB: I love being outside—I’ll go hiking, go to the beach. I’m a big foodie, so I love exploring new restaurants. Everyone I work with is so fun, so we’ll do a lot of activities together. We love positive energy here—everything is teamwork, and we try to convey that to our clients. We get along really well, and I think that’s been important.
CCH: If you could design a space for any celebrity, who would it be, and why?
KB: My dream celebrity client would probably be chef Rene Redzepi, who opened the restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. I’m a big foodie, and I love the whole experience of fine dining. I want to be able to take a chef’s vision and create a space around that. I’ve read a lot about his cooking methodologies, and I am fascinated by the processes he uses. I think architecture and food can really complement each other.
CCH: What words of advice do you have for fellow young professionals looking to succeed in the local home building and design industry?
KB: Don’t let your ego get in the way of your design work. You have to think about the client first. Use your vision—it can totally open up someone else’s—but don’t necessarily push it on people. It’s a balancing act.
Coastal Kitchen Design Trends for 2018
Over the last decade, kitchen design styles on Cape Cod have remained consistent. White, shaker style cabinets, subway tile, granite countertops, and stainless steel have held court as the fashionable combination for achieving the desired Cape Cod Coastal kitchen.
The tide is changing for 2018
According to Mark Bogosian, owner of Longfellow Design Build, for the first time in quite a while, homeowners are showing greater flexibility when it comes to designing the heart of their home. “Our clients are beginning to consider a wider variety of colors and textures in their choice of materials and finishes. They are also incorporating cutting-edge technology, and customizing spaces to integrate with their family’s unique needs and lifestyle.” Here Bogosian and his architectural design team predict the best kitchen design trends for 2018 and beyond.
Color & Texture
While white remains the cabinetry stalwart—especially in New England where traditional architecture reigns—Bogosian says there’s been a noticeable increase in clients choosing color. For example, white wall cabinetry with base and island cabinets in a deep shade of navy, a warm-toned gray, or a subtle sage green elevates the overall impact. “Carefully working shades of color and texture into a kitchen design increases overall visual interest and depth,” he says.
As for his clients that do choose all white cabinets, Bogosian finds they’re open to incorporating color in other areas. “We have so many new, and unique materials in our showrooms that provide homeowners with style choices never before available. A leathered quartzite countertop, hammered copper range hood, blonde wide-plank bamboo flooring, or a decorative lighting fixture can go a long way to offset a wall of white, kitchen cabinets” he says.
“Our kitchen designers often use pendant lights as the unifying element in the design of a kitchen. Carefully chosen pendant lights hanging down over a gorgeous thick white marble countertop or sink can make the whole design come together in harmony.”
It’s not just the style and color of their cabinets that customers are reconsidering: more and more homeowners are customizing their cabinetry choices with organizational features chosen to integrate with their family’s interests and lifestyle. “We recommend that you invest in the best quality of cabinetry your budget allows, as they are most often the foundation for a beautiful kitchen,” says Erik Leckstrom, an architectural designer at Longfellow Design Build. Besides the distinct advantages of looks and quality, Longfellow Custom Cabinetry offers many useful options and the opportunity for additional custom modifications. Longfellow Custom Cabinetry includes some of the following options:
– Pull-out trash drawers
– Multi-Tiered drawers
– Plate holder drawers to safely store dishware
– Knife racks to keep cutlery sharp and out of reach
– Pull-out shelves for easy access
– Deep drawers for pots and pans
– Specially built shelves and pantries
Appliances built into the island, a desk area, or an appliance ‘garage’ are all popular additions to the standard upper and lower cabinet banks. “We’ve done a lot of free-standing hutches and custom built-ins in this past year, and we only expect that trend to continue,” says Lekstrom. “Furniture-grade millwork can add a ton of character and beauty to a room. We’ve done kitchen hutches, wet bars, built-in desks for homework, wine racks … Really anything that supports a family’s specific lifestyle.”
A Smart Kitchen
Like all areas of the home these days, the kitchen is rife with opportunities to install new technologies that simplify and automate everything from water filtration to room temperature and turning on a faucet. Smart technologies can also be incorporated to conserve resources and create a more environmentally friendly space.
Among the most common new technologies, homeowners are choosing to add to their designs:
– LED lighting
– Smart thermostats
– Window shade, window, and door automation
– Sensor faucets
– Home entertainment systems
– Smart appliances
– Built-in iPad holders and device re-charging stations
– Water filtration systems
– Smart lighting, entertainment, surveillance, and sprinkler systems
– Amazon Echo and Google Home integration
– Home system integration
Hiding Accessories & Appliances
Homeowners may want the latest technologies and specialty appliances in their kitchens, but that doesn’t mean they want these devices at the front and center of their design. In fact, most homeowners are now choosing to hide these things whenever they can. “Moving accessories and appliances off the countertop and into specialty cabinets, or hiding the dishwasher and fridge with custom paneling are popular for maintaining a cleaner, less cluttered look,” says Longfellow Design Build lead designer, Mark Barr. “Kitchen islands have become larger and multi-functional with storage cabinets, shelves, prep sinks, and charging stations for mobile phones and laptops. They can be fitted with various appliances while also serving as the preferred spot for casual dining, socializing, or homework.”
Hardworking Utility Spaces
Given Longfellow Design Build’s Cape Cod location, it’s no surprise their kitchen designs reflect the demands of a Coastal, New England lifestyle.
For example, the mudroom isn’t a typical kitchen feature. Mudrooms are often adjoined to the kitchen, and many of our customers want the two spaces to align both visually and functionally,” says Bogosian. “Our typical Cape Cod homeowner loves the outdoors: beaching, boating, fishing, paddling, gardening, hiking, outdoor sports, and so on. To manage all this gear, sand, and wet so that it doesn’t invade your living quarters, we recommend a substantial mudroom entryway customized to accommodate a family’s preferred activities, including a hidden laundry closet.”
To see more inspiration from Longfellow Design Build, check out their online portfolio here, or visit one of their ‘Main Street’ (yes, they are all on Main Street) showrooms on Cape Cod in Falmouth, Chatham, and Osterville, MA.
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNER: Michael Bremneour
CATEGORY: Three bedroom dwelling, 1600 square feet or less
SPONSORED BY: Cape Cod Young Professionals and the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors Inc.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a small attic apartment above my grandmother and experiencing the richness of her Italian culture. Caterina came to the US from Italy when she was 19; She lived through two World Wars, and The Great Depression. Her husband died when he was forty, leaving her to raise 13 children. Caterina lived to the age of 104, longer than eleven of her children. I learned a lot from the experience of growing up along with such a strong and determined woman” – Michael Bremneour
Longfellow Design Build Architectural Designer Michael Bremneour’s entry Caterina’s Cottage has been selected as a finalist in a design contest sponsored by the Cape Cod Young Professionals and the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors Inc.
Caterina’s Cottage is a diverse home design suitable for multi-generational living. With an additional first-floor master bedroom, this design enables adult children to live at home longer, or for grandparents to live along with a small family without sacrificing privacy and autonomy.
To further cost savings, Caterina’s Cottage includes many high efficiencies features and sustainable materials. This design features:
- Loft for a small office or sitting room away from the rest of the family
- Traditional exterior w/ transitional interior & open living space
- Sustainable materials and easily expandable
- Low/no maintenance exterior
- Simple, straight-forward design allows for low-cost (approx. $150sf) construction
- High-efficiency windows, doors, HVAC, and insulation
Partnership Forms To Create Attractive, Affordable Model Homes
– FALMOUTH ENTERPRISE
Contest: Design the ideal Cape Cod affordable house
– CAPE COD TIMES
– CAPE COD YOUNG PROFESSIONALS