The Palace Theatre Kitchen Tour Benefit

Inspiration for a Good Cause

Whether you’re actively looking to re-do your kitchen or you simply enjoy flipping through the Pottery Barn catalog on a rainy afternoon, there’s something exciting about imagining your space perfectly remodeled. It may start as an innocent daydream, but before you know it you’re perusing kitchen islands online and comparing paint chips at the hardware store. If this sounds like you (and hey, we’ve all been there), there may be a way to satisfy your interior design itch without embarking on a costly and chaotic renovation project: The Palace Theatre Kitchen Tour.

The tour, now in its ninth year, is an annual event hosted by the Palace that takes design junkies and the merely curious alike through some of Amherst and Bedford’s most gorgeous kitchens. In addition to viewing the homes on a self-guided tour, the event also features a lunch catered by O Steaks and Seafood, sponsored stops along the tour route and a special function in the evening (last year’s was at the Copper Door in Bedford) to close out the festivities. Perhaps most importantly, the day serves as one of the Palace’s largest and most important fundraisers.

Kerri Christopher, director of public relations at the Palace, explains that fundraisers like the Kitchen Tour are integral to the Palace’s success. Ticket sales from the theatre’s lively schedule of plays, musical performances and comedy shows only generate 65 percent of the venue’s operating costs, she explains, so the theatre relies on fundraisers for the remaining 35 percent. “Ticket sales are just part of what we do at the Palace Theatre,” she says. “We use our fundraising events like the Kitchen Tour to close the gap.”

Christopher says the tour, which is sponsored by Granite State Cabinetry and Baron’s Major Brands, is a great way to showcase all types of kitchen design. “We look for things that people will be interested in. Not just large, beautiful kitchens, but newly-remodeled kitchens that sort of demonstrate how people can maximize a small space,” she says. “They’re works of art, not just food preparation areas.”

photo by john hession

And, Christopher stresses, the event isn’t just for those actually looking to do a kitchen remodel. “It’s not just about the homes, but more about sponsoring and helping out the Palace Theatre and enjoying a day driving around with friends,” she says.

Emily Shakra, who is on the Palace’s board of trustees and has designed many kitchens featured on the tour in the past, adds that the exposure the tour brings is good for local businesses. “It’s a valuable thing because it actually helps to stimulate the local economy,” she notes. “If they [tour-goers] are looking for a local designer, they’ll find one on the tour. And at the same time we’re able to make a contribution to the Palace Theatre.”

Plus, says Debra McBride of McBride Design in Manchester, who designed a Bedford home on the tour, taking in the gorgeous design work and home remodeling is reason enough to go. “Another fun feature is it’s like a voyeuristic side to people,” she says. “You’re in other people’s beautiful homes.” McBride says the Perry Road home she designed (pictured), which was renovated completely, has many highlights —“Every room is sort of a statement room unto itself,” she says — but that the kitchen alone is worth the trip. The kitchen’s best features, she says, include the medium-tone wooden cabinets from Granite State Cabinetry, globe-like glass lighting, two kitchen islands, a custom tiled backsplash, beautiful hardwood floors, one-of-a-kind wall color done by Lisa Teague and top-of-the-line appliances. “You never can define my interiors because they’re eclectic, but this one leans toward sophisticated but warm,” she says.

Lesley Rifkin of L. Newman Associates in Manchester, who also designed a kitchen in Bedford that is featured on the tour, says getting ideas for kitchen design and making your space the best it can be is important because so much time is spent in the kitchen. “It’s more of a family center,” she says. “I try to give the kitchen not only the function, but also make it a really nice space you want to be in.”

McBride agrees, saying the day is the perfect way to get some inspiration for a much-utilized room. “You can get so many ideas just walking through,” she says. “It’s better than thumbing through Elle Décor.”

Kitchen Tour Details

This annual benefit, now in its ninth year, is a Best of NH award-winning event having received an Editor’s Pick for “Best Kitchen Tour in NH” back in 2008.

Since then the tour continues to impress with its collection of homes. Not only does every kitchen on the tour inspire other homeowners, the gorgeous designs highlight the very best that New Hampshire designers, contractors and other vendors have to offer.

  • The event kicks off on June 2 at 10 a.m. (Click here for tickets.)
  • The tour is a morning and afternoon where you’re invited to explore some of the finest kitchens in both Bedford and Amherst. Attendees are welcome to start and finish anywhere along this self-guided tour.
  • Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 the day of the event. Tickets will be available online up to 24 hours before the event.
  • Visit for tickets and more information. More tour details are due to be released after the publication of this issue, so make sure to check the website.
  • All proceeds benefit the Palace Theatre, which received the 2012 Outstanding Historic Theatre Award from the League of Historic American Theatres. This award celebrates excellence in recognizing theatres for the preservation, restoration and sustainable operation of historic theatres throughout North America. The Palace, a non-profit performing arts center, hosts its own professional company, youth and teen programs and presents acts that range from New Hampshire’s own orchestras to national celebrities. 
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