Dream Kitchens

These seven kitchen renovations are a masterful blend of form and function

Americans spent about $13.5 billion on kitchen renovations in 2006.The good news is that, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, homeowners recoup at least 84 percent of the cost of a kitchen renovation in resale value. This makes embarking on a kitchen project a win-win situation: You get to enjoy your spruced-up cooking and dining space and it makes sound financial sense.

The kitchens we spotlight on the following pages are all upgrades of spaces that had lost their luster. Their appliances were outdated, their finishes mundane. More importantly, they were not conducive to the traffic patterns of 21st-century kitchens, which have become centers for entertaining, relaxing and multi-media multi-tasking.

The designers and architects whose projects we feature in this issue have done their homework, devising floor plans that meet their clients’ needs and wisely selecting appliances, fixtures and finishes from the dizzying array of materials on the market today. As you’ll see, these kitchens almost look too good to eat in.


Features in this kitchen by J. Paul Lobkovich include an
easy-to-use microwave drawer under the counter.

European Country Kitchen
Kitchen Design: J. Paul Lobkovich, Lobkovich, Inc., Tysons Corner, Virginia
Interior Design: Beth Kittrell, Kittrell Interiors, Fulton, Maryland
Photography: Lydia Cutter, Arlington, Virginia

J. Paul Lobkovich worked closely with interior designer Beth Kittrell to ensure that this kitchen renovation would complement the interiors of their client’s grand, rustic home in Great Falls, Virginia. The original kitchen was too long and narrow, so he took space from an adjacent closet to widen it. Because he felt that a single large island would have been too long for the available space, he proposed the creation of two square islands instead. Not only did two islands better fit into the kitchen, but they would also provide extra functionality, since each one could be used on all four sides. One of the islands features a table-level microwave drawer by Sharp that allows users to check on warming food without having to reach overhead. Appliances include two dishwashers positioned on either side of a farmhouse sink, a built-in Miele coffee system and a Wolf range.

Design inspiration came from the hand-painted fireplace mantel Kittrell created in the adjacent breakfast room. Lobkovich designed the kitchen hood in wood and stucco, and Kittrell had it painted with the same motif. Iron chandeliers by Currey & Co., antique beams in the ceiling and hand-planed plank floors create a rustic, Old World feel.


A custom-designed ventilation hood tops the stove.

Ahead of the Curve
Kitchen Design: Jennifer Gilmer, CKD,
Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Ltd., Chevy Chase, Maryland
Interior Design: Maureen Daly, Bethesda, Maryland
Photography: Bob Narod, Sterling, Virginia

The toughest challenge facing the design team in this kitchen renovation was undoing an unfortunate 1980s addition. The addition, which had a different ceiling height than the main space, formed an L shape with the original kitchen. “Trying to integrate these two spaces was a key to getting the kitchen right,” says Gilmer. “This L-shaped space was very broken up and disjointed from floor to ceiling. It took many, many meetings working on preliminary ideas to get the design to where it ended up.”

Jennifer Gilmer and interior designer Maureen Daly collaborated on integrating these two rooms into a more open and unified kitchen. Because space was limited, they came up with the idea of creating a cozy banquette instead of using stand-alone furnishings that would require more room.

To preserve adequate counter space near the banquette, Gilmer decided to trade in straight lines for curves. “Getting the booth to work with the counter was a struggle. When I drew an ‘S’ shape, everyone seemed to let out a sigh of relief followed by an ‘ooh’ and an ‘aah,’” she recalls. The unit houses a curved prep sink byFranke and storage below the Jerusalem stone countertops. In the cabinets with curved glass doors overhead, the homeowners display their collection of decorative glass. In a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, the designers juxtaposed darker matte-brown stained maple cabinetry around the perimeter of the kitchen with quarter-sawn glossy sycamore, a more contemporary look, in the curved area.

The refrigerator was placed in a centrally located spot on the opposite wall. “We ended up putting it pretty much in the middle of the kitchen between the prep and clean-up sink,” says Gilmer. “Here, it’s very accessible.”


Jennifer Gilmer traded straight lines for curves in this
ktichen renovation.

The hood and cooktop called for something dramatic. Daly proposed a single slab of marble with blue colorations providing a textural contrast to the sleek cabinets and stainless-steel hood. “The piece of marble was just the thing to set this off, a one-of-a-kind piece that gives it the ‘wow’ effect,” says Gilmer.

Sleek Italian Style
Architecture: Patrick Camus, Robert Bentley Adams & Associates, Alexandria, Virginia
Cabinetry & Appliances: Studio Snaidero, Washington, DC
Photography: Peter VanderPoel, Arlington, Virginia

There’s no rule that a kitchen must be traditional just because it’s located in a very traditional house. That was the sentiment shared by architect Patrick Camus and his client when they set out to upgrade the kitchen of this 1830s Federal-style residence in Georgetown. “It was a drive to reflect the technology of today rather than the philosophy of the entire house,” says Camus.

The layout of the historic home posed a number of design challenges. The kitchen was built on the basement level of the house, partially below ground, which was the norm more than a century ago. As a result, the space receives limited natural light, and has a ceiling height of only seven feet. Camus’s plan was to make the most of these shortcomings while creating a cutting-edge, modern kitchen for his client.


Glass panels in the ceiling and high-gloss cabinets fill this
kitchen by Paul Camus and Studio Snaidero with light.

Though the homeowner requested a black-and-white scheme, Camus sought innovative materials and finishes that would bring color and light into the room. They selected high-gloss white lacquered cabinetry designed by Ferrari stylist Paolo Pininfarina for Studio Snaidero featuring curved fronts painted in a contrasting steel finish. “They’re painted with the same finish they use on Ferraris,” says Camus.

Glass panels in the ceiling and high-gloss cabinets fill this kitchen by Paul Camus and Studio Snaidero with light. Photo by Peter Vander-Poel

The homeowner was skeptical about including a large island in the plan, concerned it would feel too heavy in the space. So Camus designed an alternative composed of a glass bar-height tabletop, a black granite countertop and a stainless-steel base. Doubling as a breakfast bar and a prep space, his creation is sculptural and light.

An innovative lighting plan—combining recessed incandescent lighting, under-the-counter lighting and fiber-optic lights that change color according to the owner’s mood—was essential in the basement space. Camus also hung curvy glass elements from the ceiling to create the illusion that the ceiling is higher than it is. “The eye focuses on the composition—not the low ceiling,” he says.

He worked closely with designers at Studio Snaidero to select materials, such as the black Bisazza glass tile backsplash, the polished slate floors and the glossy cabinetry, that would reflect the colorful lights. “Black-and-white kitchens really can be quite dull. But this doesn’t look like a black-and-white kitchen,” says Camus. “This house deserves more than just the norm.”

Form Meets Function
Kitchen Design: Nadia N. Subaran, Aidan Design, Bethesda, Maryland
Interior Design: Jerry Copeland, Washington, DC
Photography: Robert Radifera, Aidan Design, Bethesda, Maryland

The galley kitchen takes center stage in this Federal-style Bethesda home, where it is visible from a sunken family room below. The problem was that the home’s outdated appliances and cabinetry weren’t much to look at, so the owners approached Nadia Subaran to give it a facelift and introducemore efficient and functional appliances and cabinetry.

“The clients were happy with the original layout of the galley kitchen,” says Subaran. “They liked the proximity of the appliances to one another, but wanted to upgrade to bigger and better in a space where everything was a tight squeeze.” The clients are working professionals who entertain frequently and have three teenagers, so functionality was key.


Nadia Subaran mixed materials such as slate and glass in
this galley kitchen.

Before Subaran started the project, the homeowners had already selected a slate floor with metal inserts. She used the flooring as an inspiration and starting point in choosing many of the finishes. “We wanted a space that was warm with sleek stainless appliances and finishes that were classic yet had depth or texture,” she explains. The countertops are a cleft Pietra Cardosa, a stone that has a smooth yet uneven feel to the touch and dramatic veining. The glass mosaic-tile backsplash, the cast-aluminum hardware and the beaded glass pendant shade were also chosen because of their subtle irregularity. “They help to give dimension to an otherwise long and narrow space,” she says.

A Modern Counterpoint
Architecture: Michael Gallin, Gallin Design Studio, Tarrytown, New York
Cabinet Design: Fred Grenfell, Kitchen & Bath Studios, Inc., Chevy Chase, Maryland
Photography: Bob Narod, Sterling, Virginia

The original, 1980s-era kitchen in this Potomac, Maryland, home was broken into three small spaces: the kitchen, a sitting room and a mud room. When architect Michael Gallin set out to design a renovation his first move was to incorporate them into one large room. New French doors (not pictured) opened up the kitchen to its wooded surroundings; a new cathedral ceiling reinforced the light and airy effect. A cut-out opens to the foyer so that the homeowners can monitor activity at the front door.


Michael Gallin and Kitchen & Bath Studios renovated this
space into a large, functional kitchen.

Gallin worked with kitchen designer Fred Grenfell to select clean-lined, contemporary cabinets and materials that wouldreflect the client’s modern aesthetic while avoiding a cold or sterile look. They chose custom cabinets in anigre, a light, natural-looking wood with distinctive graining. A wall of cabinets and drawers provides copious storage; the upper cabinets are wrapped in stainless steel with glass doors.

Stainless-steel backsplash tile reflects light in the space and, says Gallin, “gives the wall a bit of an abstract texture. I like the uniformity.” Stainless-steel hardware by Häfele completes the modern look on the flat-panel cabinet doors.

A large center island incorporates a cooktop with a down-draft telescoping exhaust vent, a prep sink and additional storage. The black granite countertop cantilevers over two separate sections of the island, creating a light, almost table-like effect. The homeowners store a footstool in the recess, which also makes a fun play space for small children. A pantry with roll-out shelves to the right of the refriger-ator provides convenient storage. Cooking appliances—a microwave, oven and warming drawer, also in stainless steel—are stacked in a “column” for a clean look.

Nostalgia With a Modern Twist
Kitchen Renovation and Interior Design: Bruce Wentworth, AIA, Wentworth Studio, Chevy Chase, Maryland
Photography: Ron Blunt, Martinsburg, West Virginia

When a client moved from a duplex in the Watergate to a smaller apartment on an upper floor, she called on architect Bruce Wentworth to renovate its outdated, 1960s-era kitchen. A long narrow hall led from the foyer into the cramped kitchen. The client sought an upgrade that would allow her to fit a table into the space and incorporate top-of-the line finishes and appliances on par with those in her former kitchen, which Wentworth designed in the 1990s.


A narrow space became a butler’s pantry for storage.

Careful space planning enabled Wentworth to expand the kitchen by converting the hall into a long butler’s pantry lined with 12-inch-deep cabinets. To admit natural light from the adjacent dining room, he created a 48-inch opening in the wall finished with custom-forged ironwork by Cardine Studios. To economize on space, Wentworth proposed a 27-inch-wide Sub-Zero refrigerator plus under-the-counter refrigerator and freezer drawers. Streamlining the appliances enabled him to fit in a small table with a bullet-shaped top.

In a nod to nostalgia, the client chose buttery-yellow cabinets with seeded-glass doors, which conjure up memories of her childhood kitchen. Wentworth balanced traditional touches with modern elements, such as the glass Miele hood that shows off the single-slab granite backsplash and the hanging pendant over the table.

Old World, Renaissance Style
Lois Kennedy, CKD, Portfolio Kitchens, Vienna, Virginia
Photography: Lydia Cutter, Arlington, Virginia

The kitchen was the ugly duckling in an otherwise elegant, estate-quality home when the owners approached kitchen designer Lois Kennedy and requested a total makeover. “It’s a beautiful home that demanded something more stately and functional,” said Kennedy, who described the existing kitchen as “dark and dreary.”


Lois Kennedy filled this kitchen with rich detailing in the
molding and coffered ceiling.

The wife is a serious cook; she and her husband entertain frequently. Her cramped kitchen hardly fit the bill, with outdated appliances and minimal storage; for lack of a better place, the owners kept five five-gallon water-cooler dispensers right in the middle of the kitchen floor.

When Kennedy took on the project, her client’s wish list was extensive. Besides more storage, she wanted better workflow, professional-grade appliances and, above all, a kitchen that was “spectacular and like nobody else’s kitchen, anywhere,” Kennedy recalled.

The designer devised a plan that would carve out more space for the kitchen, establish a highly functional work environment and create one-of-a-kind features and finishes in a singular, Old World style. By demolishing the wall that separated the kitchen from three small utility rooms, Kennedy enlarged the kitchen substantially; she also created a second window to admit more natural light. Kennedy proposed a center island with a Wolf range located near the large refrigerator and freezer units; this arrangement would create a functional triangle where the cook could efficiently move from food storage to sink to cooktop.

To maximize efficiency and avoid her clients “running in circles around the island,” Kennedy designed a coffee bar/breakfast area that operates independently from the rest of the kitchen, with its own U-Line refrigerated drawers, Miele dishwasher and built-in Küppersbusch coffee machine.

An unusual material palette evolved as Kennedy suggested some novel ideas to meet her client’s needs—especially on the cabinet doors and backsplash. “The style she wanted really demanded some sparkle, but she didn’t want cabinet doors that you could see through.” Kennedy’s solution was to appliqué stained leaded glass on a mirrored surface for both the cabinet doors and the backsplash; Tourne Shipman of Stained Glass Overlay implemented her design. The hidden mirrors not only serve to hide the cabinet’s contents and the drywall behind the backsplash, but they also create a soft glow in the kitchen. More custom work was lavished on the ceiling, with a cove around the perimeter of the space and coffers in the center. Gilded paint finishes by Marilyn Most of Mostly Faux create an elegant effect.

Clever storage solutions abound. There’s even a window seat with roll-out shelves specially designed to bear the load of the owners’ spare water-dispenser bottles, which no longer occupy the middle of the kitchen floor.