Rules for a vacation home: must be suited to easy entertaining, filled with warmth and light and a sweet escape from the everyday. When these homeowners created their Westerly, Rhode Island, getaway, they envisioned a comfortable retreat for lots of kids, family and friends, plus their two dogs, too.

Photography by Chris Vaccaro Design: Apex Kitchens & Baths Appliances: Gil's Appliances, sourced through Clarke

 Photography by Chris Vaccaro
Design: Apex Kitchens & Baths
Appliances: Gil’s Appliances, sourced through Clarke

The homeowners worked with Jane Anderson of Apex Kitchens and Baths in Middletown, R.I., to design their ideal kitchen—an open yet inviting workspace for relaxed entertaining. With its easy flow between the living and dining areas, and views to the outdoor pool, patio and spa, gatherings can spill from one room to the next.

At the heart of the kitchen, the oversized island, topped with honed granite in a warm Jerusalem gold, seats four and welcomes cooking, snacking, or tackling homework—all at once. “You can have one person making a salad, another person prepping, someone cooking and people sitting,” says Anderson. “Nobody gets in anyone else’s way.” Stowed neatly inside the island, a Sub-Zero wine cooler and GE Monogram refrigerator drawers (from Gil’s Appliances in Bristol, R.I.) make the most of space. “There’s also another simple cabinet in the island that can be removed if they eventually decide to add a second dishwasher,” says Anderson.

WoodMode cabinetry throughout the kitchen provides ample storage to keep surfaces clutter-free and to make clean-up a cinch. Various pull-outs, drawers and cabinets ensure that everything from pantry items to party platters, even a built-in television, are always within arm’s reach. To accommodate hungry crowds and holiday feasts, the homeowners chose a forty-eight-inch Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Wolf range, hood, oven and warming drawer, also from Gil’s, for sleek style that offers industrial quality. Cabinet panels over the refrigerator, refrigerated doors and dishwasher—plus moldings and toe kicks—retain the kitchen’s old-fashioned sensibility. “She [the homeowner] wanted the kitchen to be really useful, but she also wanted it to be pretty,” says Anderson.

Crisp whites have become a standard in beach house kitchens; these homeowners instead opted for a buttery yellow cabinet finish that plays up southern Rhode Island’s golden light.  “We have beautiful cherry cabinets in our kitchen at home, so we wanted something different here,” says the homeowner. “The yellow is soft and inviting, and I love how the color changes throughout the day.”  Creamy gold veins in the soapstone perimeter counters enhance the sunlit glow.

Interior designer Leslie Courtney further softened the kitchen with charming accents. Blown glass beehive pendant lamps above the island add an old-fashioned touch, as do glass doors on the perimeter cabinets and brushed nickel hardware. Simple window treatments frame the ocean views. “We knew we wanted a nice big window where we could watch the sun coming up over the water,” says the homeowner.

Rustic golden-green quartzite floors echo the home’s beach surroundings—and stand up to constant foot (and paw) traffic. A tile mosaic with a simple decorative border also picks up the subtle tones of stone, grass, sunlight and sand: “We wanted to highlight that area, but we didn’t want anything that called too much attention to itself,” says Courtney. The island’s four French bistro stools are “indestructible” polypropylene but have the easy elegance of wicker.

In the end, the busiest room in the house is still a tranquil space. “I like having a kitchen where people feel comfortable, whether we’re having an adult party or the kids and all their friends,” say the homeowner. “I’m in the kitchen so much—I love being able to see right out to the pool and screened porch. I love having that openness and flow.”