Part of the family room was used to create a galley kitchen and island with an open feel.
BEFORE: The original kitchen was completely separate from the family room.
Removing a wall between the family room and sunroom created a light-filled, open space.
The original kitchen is now a butler's pantry.
BEFORE: The existing stone fireplace was narrowed to make room for more shelving.
The new fireplace is framed in marble.
A full bath became a chic powder room.
A railing replaced a wall to open up the entrance to the basement.
A cabinet in the butler's pantry stores the family's linens.
BEFORE: The dining room was dark and outdated.
The stylish dining room now boasts a Tibetan carpet and Theodore Alexander chairs.

Fresh Start

Wentworth Studio updates a Bethesda Colonial, creating light, airy—and party-ready—interiors

When technology executives Patrice Wolfe and her husband Jon Bazemore decided to renovate the main floor of their Westmoreland Hills home, they had already lived in it for 11 years. That was plenty of time to get a feel for what worked for their family of four and what didn’t. The couple’s design vision was so precise that it included storage for cutting boards, pastry brushes and a large collection of table linens.

The house, a red-brick Colonial built in 1953, is set back on a lushly landscaped corner lot a whisper away from the District line. Despite additions made by prior owners, including a family room and a sunroom, the primary living space proved inefficient. The family room was too large to be intimate and the kitchen too small to make entertaining easy for Wolfe and Bazemore, both avid cooks.

“The flow of the first floor didn’t work,” says Wolfe. “We interviewed a lot of architects who gave us the lazy answer—to push out into the side yard with an addition. We didn’t need to do that.”

Architect Bruce Wentworth of Wentworth Studio agreed. Opting for reconfiguration over expansion, the couple hired him and design studio manager Michael Merschat to mastermind the renovation. They removed a wall between the family room and sunroom to create a large, bright space. And they apportioned part of the family room to create a new galley kitchen with a nine-foot island that houses a large stainless-steel sink, dishwasher, microwave drawer, and cabinetry. An elevated, surfboard-shaped, custom walnut countertop provides a place for the couple and their two children to share informal meals or surf the Internet.

“The client’s goal was to keep the aesthetics of the new kitchen in sync with the house—a bit traditional with a transitional style,” says Wentworth. “Updated and elegant; warm but not slick.”

Opposite the island are a six-burner Thermador gas range top, a prep sink, and a 48-inch Sub-Zero refrigerator. Honed black granite countertops offer plenty of workspaces. Flat-panel maple cabinetry, painted white, reinforces the transitional profile the clients requested, as does the backsplash of horizontal marble tiles in differing hues of gray. The side yard, now visible through two windows instead of a single one, provides a pleasant view during food prep.

Adjacent to the new kitchen area, the old kitchen has been divided. One half holds more base cabinetry, extra counter space, double wall ovens and a walk-in pantry. The other half is a home entertainer’s dream come true: a butler’s pantry with loads more storage, a wet bar, a wine chiller and a second dishwasher.

Openness is the design mantra here. Wentworth replaced a wall in the foyer that hid the basement staircase with a chic railing. He turned a full bath into a powder room, now accessible from the foyer instead of the office. And he shifted the dining room’s two doorways, leading into the family room and butler’s pantry, to improve circulation and make space feel larger.

In the enlarged family room, added wall space accommodates a built-in cabinet for a TV and storage. The raised hearth was removed from the refaced fireplace to create an unimpeded pathway to the kitchen.

Refined finishes and appointments are the hallmarks of this five-month renovation. The powder room is a study in gray and white, with Carrara marble-tile walls and a contrasting honed mosaic marble floor. Slate blue Maya Romanoff wallpaper with tiny white beads outfits the ceiling.

The owners turned to Carol Rubacky Sheridan of Contemplated Spaces for help with furniture, fabrics, window treatments and rugs. In the dining room, an undulating Pantages chandelier serves as a focal point.  Beige grasscloth, a geometric Tibetan carpet and an embroidered scroll pattern on the host chairs add luster.

Surprises—often renovation nightmares—sometimes yield treasures. What were thought to be fake exposed beams in the family room turned out to be real joists supporting a second-floor addition? Wentworth capped their metal hangers with wood molding, painted everything white and made drama out of a drawback.

Wolfe is thrilled with the renovation. “I can’t think of anything where I’d say, ‘Oh, if only we had done x,’” she says. “I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

Writer David Hagedorn is based in Washington, DC. Geoffrey Hodgdon is a photographer in Deale, Maryland.

RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION: Bruce Wentworth, AIA, principal; Michael Merschat, AIA, design studio manager, Wentworth Studio, Chevy Chase, Maryland.