2023 Kitchen Design Award: Catherine Kwong Design


The kitchen is often described as the “hub of a house,” and in the case of a Hillsborough transformation by Catherine Kwong Design, the room does indeed serve as a center of activity for the clients—a young family of five—as well as the connector between several spaces. The kitchen not only flows into a breakfast room but is also adjacent to the home’s entry, a small office and the family room. “It’s a busy household,” she says, “and this is somewhere they pass through all the time.”

When Kwong came on board, the kitchen was outdated and in need of a refresh. The challenge was to modernize the space and make it approachable while ensuring it still related to the rest of the house, where traditional elements like wall paneling were kept. For continuity throughout, Kwong re-stained the existing kitchen floors a medium-brown tone. “We didn’t want to do away with everything and all of a sudden have this minimalist kitchen in the middle,” she explains.

Metal and fluted-glass pantry doors; and porcelain enamel, leather and metal lamps by Jim Zivic Design. Photo by Tim Lenz.

Custom touches helped usher the space into its next chapter, including a bronze hood, along with metal and fluted-glass pantry doors. (Ample additional storage is provided by a wall of millwork.) The updated kitchen also includes some of the interior designer’s favorite materials, like the durable super white quartzite counters and zellige tiles from Da Vinci Marble, which compose the backsplash. To achieve a “layered, less monolithic” venue with designated zones that serve a multitude of functions, Kwong varied the finishes. She painted most of the cabinetry in Benjamin Moore’s Storm Cloud Gray and stained the oak island. The kitchen and pantry share the same Shaker-style cabinetry, but in two paint colors (the latter features Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee). “We walked through with the clients how they use the kitchen,” says Kwong, “and then we made changes based off of that—from the cooking and gathering areas to maintaining the sightlines to the placement of all the drawers.”