Everything in its Place

Smart storage allows interiors to shine.

By Nicole Maranhas • Photography by Marianne Lee

If I have to do laundry, I want to smile and feel happy,” says Marlene Ketchen, referring to the glimmer of crystal in her mint-green laundry room. As owner of The Cabinetry in Hingham, Ketchen has worked with clients for nearly 15 years to streamline their spaces with smart design and storage solutions. When it came to renovating her own home, she embraced the opportunity to indulge her playful side. Case in point: the crystal inlay on the laundry room cabinet knobs. “I love things that sparkle,” she says.

Throughout Ketchen’s home, bright, sparkling details catch the eye amid clean, tailored lines. “When I bought the home, the kitchen was located in a different part of the house,” she says. To create a more functional layout and greater flow between spaces, she moved the kitchen to the area that previously served as a living room, reworked the living and dining areas, and reoriented the front door. Ketchen added a window to the new kitchen and then further brightened the space with warm accents. “Personally, I love a mix of modern and rustic styles,” she says. Shimmery touches, such as the cut-glass tile mosaic and mercury glass pendant lights add instant cheer, while practical solutions like Thermofoil cabinets (they’re easy to clean and stay looking good for years) and cocoa-stained oak flooring, stand up to the wear and tear of a busy family.

The first-floor bathroom was designed with both style and function in mind. Knowing the room would accommodate high traffic, Ketchen wanted to keep the look clean, pretty and fresh. She swapped out an existing tub for a tile shower and added a blue bubble tile pattern in the custom shower niche for a bright splash of color. Sleek Carrara marble was chosen to top the furniture-style vanity.

Smart storage is essential for keeping beautiful spaces uncluttered, especially for families with young children. In her mudroom, Ketchen designated an oversized cabinet “locker” for each child—an easy solution for stowing coats and sports equipment out of sight. A cushioned window seat doubles as twin drawers for scarves, hats and mittens. To keep the room inviting and kid-friendly, Ketchen added wavy door handles and whale-tail hooks. “I like things that are a little offbeat and unexpected,” she says.

Ketchen bought her business in 2003 from her uncle, who, along with her father, was a second-generation cabinet manufacturer. Her uncle transitioned into kitchen design and Ketchen eventually followed suit, leaving behind her former career in politics to work alongside him the year before he retired. Ketchen still bounces ideas off her father (retired now, he holds several patents and knows the industry inside-out), and says that her instinct for quality design is second nature. “I start by learning as much as I can about the intended goal of the space—who will be living there and how they are using it—so that I can customize it for their intentions,” says Ketchen. “And I always ask how they see the room in 10 years.”

With her own 10-year plan in mind, Ketchen created her kids’ rooms with an eye toward the future. For her second-grade son’s workspace, she anticipated the transition from elementary school to high school and college. “I wanted something that I could make look youthful now that he would be able to change down the road,” she says. Sports-themed drawer knobs are easy to install or remove, while the no-fuss laminate desk countertop is indestructible and can be replaced with wood in later years.

In her own workspace, Ketchen opted for a feminine touch. “I didn’t want to repeat any cabinet style or finish,” she says. “I wanted to do something different in each space.” She chose cherry cabinets in a rich, espresso stain with brushed gold hardware for a soft glow. Custom floral brocade window treatments and a pink-upholstered chair (her favorite color) further soften the space. The wide quartz countertop is roomy for design plans, catalogues and sketches, while ample drawers accommodate paper for gift wrapping, art supplies for the kids and hanging files. “I love drawers,” she says. “I love the way they look and function.”

With smart storage solutions, organization is effortless. Ketchen works with each client to create a detailed list of their belongings—from each piece of Tupperware to cords for charging phones—to ensure that every item has a designated spot. “Storage is important because most people don’t want to see clutter,” says Ketchen. “I get it; that’s how I feel too. If you can have a little bit of organization, it’s calming. It makes you feel better when you walk into the room.”

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