A few years after renovating their master bedroom suite, a Great Falls couple was ready to embark on a new remodeling phase. They were unhappy with their kitchen, which suffered from poor traffic flow and dated appliances and fixtures, and they wished to establish a better connection between the kitchen and the rest of the house.
The couple turned to Sun Design Remodeling for the kitchen renovation, and tapped interior designer Margery Wedderburn to transform all the other public spaces. The goal was to create cohesive interiors that would flow into one another throughout the ground-floor level.
Sun Design’s first move was to demolish the wall between the kitchen and family room. “In these older houses the kitchens tend to feel small and tight,” Wedderburn says. “It needed to be opened up.” Other structural changes included closing off an awkwardly placed powder room door and moving it so that it would open to the renovated mudroom. As Sun Design project manager Liz Lee recalls, “They had a lot of doors off the kitchen. There was a garage door, the door to the mudroom, the powder room door and a pantry door. When we were finished the only door left in that space was the one to the mudroom.”
While the existing kitchen offered ample space, older cabinetry and outdated appointments made it feel cramped and dark. Sun Design enlarged the window in front of the sink to provide more light and ambience, as well as expansive views of the private backyard. Fresh, white-painted cabinetry and a white subway-tile backsplash keep things bright and sparkling.
While the renovation necessitated replacing the existing tile countertops and the stubbornly dingy grout surrounding them, Lee could not deter her client from selecting another potentially troublesome surface: white marble. “We don’t recommend doing marble for the countertops in the kitchen because they can stain so easily,” Lee explains. “But she had a vision and she really wanted it, so we went with it.” The owner’s vision paid off: The result is a classic kitchen in a timeless style.
Meanwhile, Wedderburn looked for ways to connect the new kitchen with the rest of the interiors. She found that an open-plan kitchen/family room offered an opportunity for additional synergies. The wood surface on the island carries over to a custom bookshelf in the kitchen, which complements a bookshelf in the newly refurbished office and another new shelving unit in the mudroom. The design also called for open shelving for plates and bowls and a generous farmhouse sink.
While the owners were able to retain the existing hardwood floor in the family room, the original kitchen floor was a laminate that differed from the nearby wood floor in both color and texture. Sun Design replaced the laminate with hardwood, sanded and stained to match the family room floor. “It now has a continuous flow,” Lee says.
The union of kitchen and family room allowed for more counter space and a sightline that extends across the family room to the living room beyond—a configuration that fosters together time for the homeowners and their teenage son. Wedderburn chose a sectional sofa from Sherrill for the family room that would not overpower the space. “It’s not a huge room,” she says. “But we were focusing on comfortable seating so decided the sectional was the best way to go.” She had it covered in ultrasuede from Fabricut, then added pillows in fabrics from Schumacher and Scalamandré.
The designer also rethought how best to display the owners’ burgeoning art collection. “When you have such nice artwork, it really needs to tie into all the fabrics and finishes you’re working with,” she says. “We ended up moving pieces around into other rooms to tie in with the colors—lots of blues and green-blues.”
Throughout the house, Wedderburn selected soothing, complementary Farrow & Ball hues that she repeated in different rooms to unify them: The family room wall color, for example, shows up on the living room ceiling, while Matchstick, the color in the kitchen/family room, was also used on the ceiling in the office.
In all, it’s the continuous flow and openness of the renovated home that are the greatest improvements, according to the homeowners. “That openness to the family room is important so they can be together as a family,” Lee says. “And on top of that, the client got the kitchen she’d always envisioned.”
Writer Cathy Applefeld Olson is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Photographer Timothy Bell splits his time between Washington, DC, and New York.