Margarit Belorian, left, and Ani Stepanian at their showroom

Sisters-in-Law Bring Touch of Magic to Kitchens


BELMONT — When it comes to business, it is notoriously hard to work with family. Just try telling that to sisters-in-law Margarit Belorian and Ani Stepanian, who own and run the successful Bel Kitchen and Bath in Belmont.

They aren’t just sisters-in-law; they are best friends and operate on the same wavelength. (Margarit is married to Ani’s brother, Hovik.)

They started the business in October 2015, out of Stepanian’s home. A year later, they opened the showroom on 96 Park Avenue.

“We mostly do kitchens. We design a layout of the kitchen, unless the customer is very specific about keeping their existing layout. We go on to the home and take measurements, unless they have architects’ drawings, and they prefer for us to work off their drawings,” Stepanian said. “We have a full conversation with the client and come back here and we design, a lot of times, more than one option, to make it painful for us and easy for the client.”

“We also source the cabinetry,” Stepanian added.

The duo provides different price-point options using various manufacturers’ lines. The suggestions and designs are then shown in 3-D detail to the clients on their massive screens at the showroom.

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Stepanian explained that people sometimes come in with a specific plan but when she and Belorian show them alternatives they had never thought of, they change their minds.

She added that they will offer different suggestions, based on their experience, if they can offer a “better layout or design for the space, that fits more things or if it gives them more workable space or is more in line with what is popular today.”

Sometimes older buildings present challenges, such as a Cambridge kitchen they had worked on, which because of venting issues, needed to have the stove stay where it was.

“We go with what gives them the most storage, what makes the most sense in terms of how they walk around and how they live; that’s why it’s important for us to visit someone’s home because we get a sense of how they move in the space, how they walk in, where they drop their keys, where and how many people they entertain,” she said.

Belorian is the guru that plays with the software for the design, making everything fit to the inch, Stepanian said.

That comes down to attention to details, Belorian said. “The most important skillset you have to have  is to be able to take measurements. It’s very critical,” she added.

The duo recalled that they completed work on a tiny kitchen in a condo in Somerville, which measured less than 7 by 10. “This kitchen was tiny. We literally used every inch in any clever possible way, with pullouts — even three-inch pullouts for spices. It took a lot of creativity. Thank goodness they had a competent installer and it worked out,” Stepanian recalled.

“I think the contractor was shocked,” joked Belorian.

Another interesting project for them was for a family who was moving to Brookline from London, during COVID. The entire interaction was on Zoom. “Clearly it was an amazing project. We did some bathrooms, the laundry area and the mudrooms. It is a very historic, stately home, very tastefully and tactfully done. Her project is one of my favorites,” Stepanian said.

When asked what the average cost for a kitchen is, Stepanian said, there is no such thing as an average cost because there are so many variables. “You can look up two kitchens that look exactly the same and one could be twice the cost of the other,” she said. Adding to the price are the types of wood or functionality, such as a pullout drawer. “Anytime you add functionality, you add to the cost of cabinets,” she noted.

They themselves do not take part in the construction end of things. “Most customers who come to us already have a contractor,” she said. Otherwise, Bel can suggest some trusted constructors.

Bel Kitchen does not advertise and both women said they prefer to get clients through word of mouth.

“Margarit and I, our business model is that we are not going to advertise willy-nilly,” Stepanian said. “Most of the people who find us, find us through other people. It’s a warm lead. It’s such a better customer. Nobody just walks by and comes in. Nowadays a lot of people find us through our Google reviews but most of our business comes from repeat customers who have somebody whose kitchen we did, cousin or neighbor….”

The two came to the home design business as second careers. Belorian’s background is in computer science and designing data bases, while Stepanian worked in finance.

Asked if Belorian missed her former profession, she said with a chuckle, “Not a single day!”

The two got their start when Belorian got laid off from her job at Citizens Bank. “She [Margarit] had this great idea because at that time we had done [house] flips and other construction projects. She noticed how much we loved doing the kitchen side of things when we were doing these projects and so when she got laid off, she thought that is a perfect opportunity to do it as a business,” Stepanian said. “I initially was a little afraid because growing up all our parents said was ‘you don’t go into business with family.’”

Belorian convinced her sister-in-law that everything would run smoothly. Stepanian agreed and gradually transitioned out of her full-time job.

“We see each other day in and day out but fortunately and luckily we figured out a way. Part of it is we have different strengths and we respect each other’s strengths. Each of us deals with a different side of the business and there isn’t a lot of stepping on each other’s toes,” Stepanian said.

Said Stepanian, “We made a decision to work a certain way. It’s very low pressure, no pressure. We have fun with this. We treat every kitchen as if it is our own. We painstakingly go over design after design. There is never a hard sell. We give them options and quotes, but we tell them if they find better quotes on anything elsewhere, to go with it. It’s always an easy conversation.”

“We’ve had really great customers. When we come here, it doesn’t at all feel like we are going to work,” Stepanian said. Customers pick up on it, Belorian added.

And finally, asked what sort of kitchen is popular, Stepanian said,  “For a good 10 years, everyone was doing white and grey kitchens. White is kind of timeless, but now we have a lot of woods coming back, within the past year,” she said, adding they are not the old-fashioned wood cabinets of previous decades, but with a cooler undertone. She also predicted that interest in gold-colored hardware would decrease.

Belorian added that European laminates are also very popular.

For more information about Bel Kitchen and Bath, visit

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