When architect Rebecca Mann and her family moved into a circa-1909 row house on Capitol Hill, space was at a premium. The 1,200-square-foot abode had a tiny, dark kitchen and a haphazard addition on the back. “We knew we’d want to redo the kitchen,” Mann recounts. “It bled into the dining room in a clutter-taking-over kind of way.”
They decided to convert the kitchen into a home office and build a new kitchen in place of the ramshackle addition. Above it, a new bath and closet would expand the master bedroom into a suite, while below, a full-height basement would improve on what had been just a crawl space.
Since setbacks and lot-occupancy rules wouldn’t permit a build-out of more than seven and a half feet, Mann applied ingenuity and a minimalist aesthetic to create an airy, functional galley kitchen within those size constraints. She designed light-stained cabinetry out of birch plywood—fabricated by Frederick, Maryland, furniture-maker Mark Palmquist to fit the space—with quartz work surfaces and storage galore. Convenient features include a large appliance garage, a charging station and a peg board for hanging brooms and mops that pulls out from the wall of cabinetry.
On the second floor, the master bedroom closet contains two walls of custom birch-plywood built-ins. It opens into a bath clad in white porcelain tile with a quartz-topped bench along one wall. A frosted-glass panel encloses a spacious shower. The bath is only accessible via the closet, which Mann likes. “It’s a bright, private space,” she says. “The light streams into it.”