Home & Design

Bright Spot

A fresh palette and an open plan animate a traditional kitchen

A dark and dated kitchen with a cramped, poorly conceived layout was a frustration for Ashburn, Virginia, owners who enjoy cooking together and entertaining. The couple turned to interior designer Alison Giese and kitchen designer Tanya Smith-Shiflett for a total transformation. They envisioned a new, open plan and a traditional aesthetic that would complement their 1990s, Colonial-style dwelling yet feel fresh and current.

The design team began by extensively reorganizing the space. “We removed a pony wall separating the eat-in kitchen from the family room,” recalls Giese. “We shifted appliances around, created work zones, provided for tons of storage and workspace, and changed the layout to create a focal point with the range and hood centered on the back wall.”

The new kitchen flows seamlessly into the rest of the home. “It’s now open, with a space for eating and a large, workhorse island,” explains Shiflett, whose company, Unique Kitchens & Baths, provided custom cabinetry. “It brought the family together for both food prep and mealtimes.”

To create that “fresh version of traditional,” says Giese, she and Shiflett opted for dark base cabinets and creamy uppers in a harmonious and symmetrical layout. “We referred to this as ‘a warm tuxedo look,’” comments Giese. “The clients liked the idea of a light and bright kitchen but wanted that warmth, not an all-white space.” Crisp-white quartz countertops and a ceiling-height white ceramic-tile backsplash add to the classic vibe, while vintage-look gold and wood accents—from island pendants to cabinet hardware and counter stools—inject character. A new engineered-wood floor in honey hues unites the main living areas.

Kitchen & Interior Design: Alison Giese, Alison Giese Interiors, San Antonio, Texas. Kitchen Design: Tanya Smith-Shiflett, CKBD, Unique Kitchens & Baths, Great Falls, Virginia & Baltimore, Maryland. Contractor: George Asher Homes, LLC, Ashburn, Virginia. 


CABINETRY & BREAKFAST TABLE: uniquekitchensandbaths.net. COUNTERTOPS: msisurfaces.com through uniquekitchensandbaths.net. BACKSPLASH: tileshop.com. FAUCET: miseno.com through build.com. SINK: kraususa.com through build.com. PENDANTS: hinkleylightinglights.com. FLOORING: prosourcewholesale.com. STOOLS: Clients’ collection. BREAKFAST CHAIRS: wayfair.com.

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