Historic Cleveland Park is known for its inviting pastiche of Victorians. But nestled into the mix, a cluster of contemporary-style homes designed in the 1970s by the late architect Winthrop Faulkner stands out—and in 2015, one of them caught the eye of a couple with three young kids, who bought the abode with the idea of updating it to fit their needs.
“We were living in Cleveland Park already and wanted to stay in the community, which we dearly love,” says the wife. “And the house is magical. It incorporates the outdoors inside, with huge windows to a backyard that feels sort of like a secret garden.”
Since it had been virtually unaltered since the ’70s, the couple—both management consultants—enlisted Gilday Renovations “to bring it up to the 21st century,” explains partner Tom Gilday. “We renovated it from top to bottom without changing the footprint. Our goal was to meet the clients’ needs while adhering to the integrity of the original design.”
Ellen Witts, a kitchen designer at Gilday, worked with the homeowner on improving the woefully outdated kitchen. “I love to cook,” says the wife. “I wanted the ability to make fantastic food on a large scale because I often feed a lot of hungry kids and big families.”
The first item on the agenda was removing two awkward peninsulas that protruded from the window wall, breaking up the space and impeding its flow. In their place, an almost-12-foot island creates a new work triangle for the wife while freeing up the counter along the window wall for separate tasks. The island and window-wall countertops both offer sinks for easy cleanup. A new range and refrigerator occupy their original locations—close to the new island sink—and double ovens have replaced a disused dumbwaiter to the left of the fridge. Above the range, a custom hood sports a decorative band of stainless steel “that picks up the appliances and adds visual interest,” notes Witts.
A formerly inaccessible corner area now easily accommodates a breakfast nook with a built-in banquette. It’s one of the wife’s favorite aspects of her new space. “I can be getting ready for an adult dinner and feeding tons of kids at the table at the same time,” she enthuses.
Beside the breakfast area is the door to the walk-in pantry (formerly the laundry room), which holds an extra refrigerator, a microwave and plenty of storage. Around the corner, attractive built-ins supply more storage while displaying cookbooks and decorative objects.
A peninsula separates the kitchen from the dining room, where a wall of cabinets and drawers has been repainted to match the pale-gray kitchen walls. A long, narrow window in the cabinet wall is now an expansive picture window that duplicates two existing picture windows in the kitchen—increasing light and opportunities for views to the backyard.
To convey a modern sensibility, Gilday replaced a massive column by the dining room with a simple, squared-off entry. Witts and her client paired crisp, white custom cabinetry with practical white Caesarstone countertops that measure two-and-a-quarter inches thick. Behind the range, says Witts, a honed Calcutta-marble slab “is like a piece of artwork. It’s the focal point in the kitchen.” Cubist-inspired shelving in the breakfast area accents the existing horizontal window below it.
A winner of the 2016 Grand COTY Award for residential kitchen $100,001 to $150,000, the kitchen is everything the wife wanted—both visually and functionally. “We’re big foodies,” she says. “And the opportunity to make great food and share it with the people we love is abundant here.”
Judy Davis is a principal at Hoachlander Davis Photography in Washington, DC.
RENOVATION DESIGN & CONTRACTING: Tom Gilday, partner. KITCHEN DESIGN: ELLEN WITTS, CKD, Gilday Renovations, Silver Spring, Maryland.