A renovation expanded the former galley kitchen; its new layout provides added functionality and workspace.
The homeowners and their three daughters enjoy meals and baking projects on the built-in table with a thick-slab marble top.
The designers selected contrasting cabinetry in white lacquer and rift oak veneer with stainless-steel hardware.
Custom cabinets in the breakfast area provide extra storage capacity.
Open wenge shelves above the counters solve a structural dilemma.

A Creative Twist

Designer Jennifer Gilmer gives a mundane kitchen
a new lease on life

A Creative Twist JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011

After completing several renovations of their DC home, the owners decided it was time to address its lackluster kitchen. When they bought the house 16 years ago, they installed new cabinets in the cramped 1950s galley kitchen—and then tolerated its lack of work and storage space. “We do a lot of entertaining,” says the homeowner. “It was tough. We wanted a more functional space for cooking.” Another sore subject was the fact that the kitchen didn’t blend well with the inviting breakfast and family room area that had been added to the back of the home a few years ago.


So the couple turned to kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer, who’d recently completed a neighbor’s kitchen, to update theirs in style. Gilmer worked with interior designer Jodi Macklin to develop a program that expressed their clients’ preferences for clean lines and modern finishes, but one that would also complement the home’s traditional heritage. 

The proposed layout created a more efficient use of space. Gilmer suggested moving the refrigerator, located by the range, to the opposite wall for increased countertop area. To save space, she proposed a narrower, 27-inch model with separate freezer drawers stacked to its left, where a previous renovation had placed a poorly designed closet under an angled support wall. Above the freezers, she installed a Miele Speed Oven, which cooks in microwave or convection modes or a combination of the two. This hybrid augments the main oven under the range, eliminating the need to take up space with a stand-alone microwave. Clad in stainless steel, the oven and freezers become a sleek tower element.


On the opposite wall, a vertical support beam presented another challenge. Gilmer covered it in stainless steel to echo the tower and built in a narrow stainless-steel cabinet under it for continuity. Solid wenge shelves, hung from a support beam on the ceiling (another creative solution), keep everyday china and glassware in easy reach. “We took obstacles in the kitchen which would normally be eyesores,” Gilmer says, “and in finding a way to solve the issues, we came up with a more interesting design. They become aesthetic elements.” 

The designers chose a warm yet neutral color palette. White lacquer cabinets add shimmer and contrast when paired with oak rift veneer cabinets in a wenge stain—both by Sterling Custom Cabinetry of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Countertops made of two-inch-thick Valley Gold marble in an antique finish bring light and weight into the space. Macklin selected brown subway tiles, in matte and shiny finishes, for the kitchen backsplash.

“The whole kitchen is really warm, but it shines,” says Gilmer. “Even though this is not a modern house, the kitchen fits in nicely because of the warmth.” 

Her client agrees, “I love the different colors and textures. It’s so simple in tone and earthy, but it’s got a lot of texture so it’s not boring.” 

INTERIOR DESIGN: JODI MACKLIN, Jodi Macklin Interior Design, Chevy Chase, Maryland. KITCHEN DESIGN: JENNIFER GILMER, CKD, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath Ltd., Chevy Chase, MD. 

For more kitchens featured in this issue click here.

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home design and building/remodeling features.  Wonderful visuals of custom homes and eco-friendly resources are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design and remodeling projects to life.