Despite being a chef, baker, and cookbook author, Leslie Mackie has never had a big kitchen at home. The founder of Seattle’s Macrina Bakery, Mackie didn’t expect that to change when she bought a former cabinet shop on Vashon Island, Washington, to use as a space for cooking classes and events. But as the renovation began, she decided to live on the island full time—and make the kitchen her own. Inspired by the building’s origins as a barn, Mackie asked architects Richard Floisand and Allison Hogue (floisandstudio.com) to leave the main floor open, with a farmhouse-style kitchen in the center. Then Mackie worked with designer Nathan Hartman of Kerf Design (kerfdesign.com) to build the kitchen she’d never had but always wanted.
At 4 by 19 feet, the island dominates the first floor. But in the context of the open home, it’s perfect. Mackie uses it as a buffet for family gatherings and as a spot to film recipe videos for Macrina’s blog.
Hartman put caps on each end of the kitchen cabinetry wall to give Mackie more storage. One side is a closed pantry; the other has shelves for cookbooks and vases.
Mackie collected photos of farmhouse kitchens as inspiration before building this one. The common denominator in the pictures? Open shelving. Mackie likes the look, but it’s the see-and-grab ease of her cookware that earns the shelves so much real estate—more than 20 linear feet. “I don’t have to hunt,” she says.
Mackie had the original concrete floor ground down to expose the aggregate and varying colors. As a chef, she’s used to standing on concrete floors all day, but she will wear clogs if her back starts to ache.
The classic kitchen triangle—stove, refrigerator, and sink at equal distance from one another—is at play here. Yet it’s spread out (about 5 feet from stovetop to sink) to allow circulation around the island during events. Mackie’s priority was the central location
of the range. “It sits in the middle of everything and is accessible from both sides,” she says.
Mackie topped the island with maple counters that she reseals herself. “I like the organic feel of wood,” she says, while admitting that the surface soils quickly and will need to be replaced in a decade or so. “A friend has a philosophy that patina carries the story of the people who live in the house,” she says. “I’m trying to embrace that.”
Some of the open shelves are lined with colorful laminate, a signature of Hartman’s. The material is easy to clean and durable—a necessity when Mackie has her 16-year-old daughter Olivia’s crew team over to bake pies.
At first, Mackie worried about the durability of her sealed plywood cabinets. “My kitchen really has to stand up to wear,” she says. But the affordable material has proved itself to be exceptionally tough.