Photography: Bob Narod

Kitchen + Bath: Case Study

Modern Vibe: Kitchen designer Lauren Bland gives a rundown kitchen a new lease on life

In a newly purchased house, the owners wished to infuse mundane traditional interiors with a fresh, modern vibe. They hired Lauren Bland of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath to create a kitchen space that would reflect their vision, which Bland describes as “a re-imagined space that would be brighter, bigger and more family-oriented.”

The original kitchen was cramped, separated from the den by a wall. Bland and her team combined the rooms to create an open kitchen/den so that the owners’ young children could play within view.

Cabinetry from the Canadian company Décor includes white-painted upper and gray-painted lower cabinets. Dark cherry accent cabinetry adds interest and a matching dark-wood shelf frames the tops of the upper cabinets to make them stand out.

Bland employed a graphic element on the island with a dark wenge insert that contrasts with the quartz countertops. “We wanted to add warmth to the part of the island where people eat,” she says. “It’s nicer to lean your elbows on wood than stone.” The island houses a Bosch induction cooktop.

The kitchen’s focal point is an eye-catching, sculpted limestone backsplash from Architectural Ceramics that combines honed and polished stones; the polished parts appear darker than the others, creating a three-dimensional, wave-like effect. “The stones are sequenced so it had to be mapped out,” Bland recalls. “We wanted a high-end design for a low-end cost, and the backsplash was a way to do something special.”

Translucent glass pendants add color and fun to the mix.

KITCHEN DESIGN: LAUREN BLAND, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Ltd., Chevy Chase, Maryland. PHOTOGRAPHY: BOB NAROD.


  • In any space, the emphasis should be on proper proportions and balance—there should be a rhythm and flow that make sense. Too many kitchens are out of balance—too big, too small, not enough or too much.
  • Look for an honest rapport between client and designer. I give advice but leave the final decisions to the client.
  • Consider mixing materials. Blend natural woods with painted finishes, rough stone with glossy glass. Metal is becoming more versatile and designers are now using nickel, steel and iron.
  • To avoid clutter, plan features like hidden alcoves with sliding, bi-folding or lift-up doors that conceal messiness. Drawers and recycle bins help with papers; technology clutter can be stowed and charged in a hidden compartment with an inner power strip.