Jennifer Gilmer created the new kitchen within the original cooking space and dining room.
BEFORE: The original dining area now houses the new kitchen.
The renovated house from the back.
BEFORE: The front of the house prior to renovation.
Open shelving, a marble backsplash and Caesarstone countertops convey a light and airy feel.
A cathedral ceiling rises above the family room area.
Gilmer aligned the exhaust hood with the family room's cathedral ceiling.
The stainless-steel-topped island contains more storage and refrigerator drawers.

Preserving History

A design team marries old and new in a Tudor-style home in Washington, DC

After living in their three-bedroom house in Washington’s Barnaby Woods neighborhood for about a year, Jennifer and Jason Bertsch decided it was time to remodel and expand the 1935 structure. They needed a new kitchen, a family room and more bedrooms for their three children and guests, but sought to avoid building a massive, multi-story addition.

“We wanted the design to be integrated into the house and not be a radical departure,” says Jason Bertsch, senior vice president of development at the American Enterprise Institute. “The house is different from the average Colonial in DC and that became a challenge.”

Among the unusual features of the Tudor-style dwelling is a two-story living room with a cathedral ceiling where dark-stained beams and timbers at roof height are best appreciated from the second-floor balcony that leads to two bedrooms and a bathroom for the kids.

Previous owners had expanded the small, original house at the back to accommodate a master suite, a breakfast room off the kitchen, an enlarged dining room and a wooden deck. “The old kitchen was dark and lacked functional storage and usable counter space,” recalls Jennifer.

Seeking a solution that would both modernize and respect the original architecture, the owners turned to architect Christopher Snowber of Hamilton Snowber Architects. “I like the way Chris integrates old and new,” says Jennifer. “He was open to different possibilities that preserved the character of the home.”

Snowber’s biggest move was to extend the back of the house, expanding the walk-out basement and providing a new family room that is open to the renovated kitchen on the main level. Inside the gabled family-room addition, the architect exposed the beams and rafters to create what he calls “a cousin to the living room.”

The cathedral ceiling of the former interior served as a point of departure. However, in the new space, he says, “the beams are lighter and have been painted to tie into the room, the ceiling is covered by beadboard and lighting is unobtrusive.”

Adjoining the addition is the new kitchen, configured within what were the cooking and dining areas, located at the back of the original house. Kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer created an efficient, clean-lined design, integrating the kitchen and family room by extending the addition’s light, airy sensibility with open shelving, a white marble backsplash and a brushed stainless-steel countertop on the island. “It’s a classic look,” says Gilmer of the pale Shaker-style cabinets and engineered quartz countertops. The exhaust hood over the range aligns with the center of the cathedral ceiling to emphasize its strong lines.

Gilmer maximized the space with cabinets that stretch along one wall of the addition to supply extra space for storage. “We created a pantry using pull-out cabinets on either side of a window and installing a counter that feels more like a buffet,” she says.

Next to this built-in sideboard, a wooden harvest table and metal-mesh chairs are arranged to create a dining area. The remainder of the family room, furnished with an eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings, serves as a casual space to hang out and watch television.

Next to the kitchen, the master suite was reconfigured to encompass a new bathroom and closets. Two more bedrooms and another bath were added to the enlarged walk-out basement and a rec room was created for the kids.

“We wanted to integrate the bedrooms into the house, rather than extend them over the family room,” explains Jason. “When our daughter gets older, she’ll move down here.”

New staircases lead from the basement to the main level and to a wooden deck off the master bedroom and family room. “We use the deck for everything from grilling and gathering with friends over the fire-pit to watching the kids playing in the yard,” says Jennifer.

Framing this outdoor space is the cottage-style family-room addition, its tall windows centered within a shingled façade that blends with the rest of the house. “It looks cozy from the back of the house,” comments Jennifer. “That isn’t always the case with additions.”

Frequent contributor Deborah K. Dietsch is based in Washington, DC. Bob Narod is a photographer in Herndon, Virginia.

ARCHITECTURE: CHRISTOPHER R. SNOWBER, AIA, principal in charge; BRIAN GRUETZMACHER, project manager, Hamilton Snowber Architects, Washington, DC. KITCHEN DESIGN: JENNIFER GILMER, CKD, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath, Chevy Chase, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: MAUCK ZANTZINGER & ASSOCIATES, INC., Washington, DC.