Photography: Bob Narod

Kitchen + Bath: Case Study

Artistic Vision: Designer Paul Bentham infuses a modern kitchen with a playful, Pop-Art sensibility

The owners of a Bethesda home hadn’t touched its outdated kitchen since the house was built in the 1980s. When they were ready for a change, they contacted Paul Bentham of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath to create an updated, contemporary space. “They have Pop-Art taste,” Bentham says. “They have a lot of that kind of art and wanted a kitchen that would complement it, with a sort of European feel.”

Bentham designed a more convenient layout by replacing a space-squandering, L-shaped island with a functional, linear one that is longer and wider than the original. He also removed the bulky, freestanding range and hood, which took up too much space, and substituted a streamlined, 42-inch cooktop and 48-inch hood. All the appliances are Miele.

The original cabinetry was clad in a mundane laminate popular in the 1980s. “The owners wanted things bright, but they have a penchant for grays, so though I started out designing with only gray, I ended up introducing red for interest,” Bentham says. The new cabinets from Zonavita are a lively mix of the two colors, made of a high-gloss, acrylic-based laminate that creates a strong sheen. They are paired with honed, Absolute Black granite countertops.

A bank of red pantry cupboards has been elevated and lit from above and below. The light over the island—a Philips Ledalite—is an industrial fixture that the clients chose; made of polished chrome, it adds the final touch to the sleek, modern kitchen.

KITCHEN DESIGN: Paul Bentham, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Chevy Chase, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: Mike Thornton, M.R. Thornton & Sons, Inc., Woodbine, Maryland. PHOTOGRAPHY: Bob Narod. 

PAUL BENTHAM’S TRADE SECRETS:

  • In most cases, it’s best to follow the general shape of the room when designing how the kitchen will flow. In a long room, a linear feel with horizontal cabinet lines and handles will work best.
  • Keep in mind that you can achieve an interesting look through subtle variations in a kitchen. For example, materials in the same color can have different looks and depths if they come in variable sheens.
  • Take a step out of the norm by using LED lighting that points in different directions, such as down-lighting that will bounce light from various cabinet depths and heights off of walls and ceilings.
  • Consider your lifestyle and choose materials accordingly. For instance, high-gloss paint finishes will not wear well for a young family with pets.