From china cabinets to accents of marble, here’s how three NoVA families designed the most-used room in their homes.
Art and Craft
When architect and interior designer Charles Almonte remodeled a dated Vienna kitchen for Eben and Jen Darling—and their two little boys—his primary goal was to create a functional, comfortable kitchen for the whole family. “I wanted to design a welcoming space for them to gather as a family, an inviting kitchen where they could enjoy cooking, eating and spending time together,” he says.
The home’s prior kitchen had an impractical U-shaped layout, with a cumbersome peninsula cutting into the space; it was also sealed off from the adjacent dining room.
“It was very difficult for us to be together in the kitchen,” says Eben. “There was ‘dead space’ in the middle of the room and limited counter space around the edges. It was impossible to make more than one dish at a time, much less space to eat in.” He pauses and adds, “The kitchen was literally walled off from the rest of our house. With a toddler and preschooler in our home, this arrangement was simply not practical for our lifestyle.”
Almonte began by rearranging the floor plan around a large multipurpose island for food prep and other uses, including a breakfast bar and appliance storage. He also opened up the dining room to the kitchen, with a short hall between them, containing a wall of built-in china cabinets to one side.
“Jen’s father is a skilled woodworker, so the family leans toward the artisanal arts and crafts style, so I opted to design the kitchen in a transitional style, with detailed and crafted touches,” adds Almonte.
Throughout the process, he collaborated closely with builder Jason Denny of Denny & Gardner, who helped with the installation of everything, including a full-height ceramic-tiled range backsplash, as well as a wall of tall cabinets, serving as dish storage, food pantry and wine refrigeration.
The counters blend a moodier gray-green ‘Taj Mahal’ quartzite for the island top with a lighter, brighter quartz for the peripheral countertops. Hardware is oil-rubbed bronze on two shades of cabinetry.
“We now have everything we need. Space, storage and clean sight lines,” adds Eben. “Jen and I can cook together, while having sufficient counter space for the boys to eat at, or do art projects, without getting underfoot.”
Found in Transition
The wish list was in place when Vienna-based interior designer Andrea Maaseide of Studio 320 came on board to remodel a small, dark, builder-grade kitchen in a suburban home in Herndon.
“We wanted to expand the kitchen by removing a wall between the living room and the old kitchen,” says the homeowner, who shares the 15-year-old house with her husband and 4-year-old daughter. “We also wanted to update the colors, finishes and appliances in favor of a modern, softer, clean look.”
For three busy months in 2018, Maaseide collaborated rapid-fire on the project with her colleague Phillippa Baker, as well as with Chris Ham of Stonegate Remodeling. Efficiency is tantamount when renovating such an important room.
“Taking down that wall opened everything up, allowing us to increase the kitchen’s footprint, improve storage and add a larger island,” says the homeowner.
New inset-paneled cabinetry in a creamy hue replaced dark cherry wood ones, and in place of black granite countertops, there are now warm, white quartz ones. Though the sink’s location remained the same, the new bank of larger windows increased the flow of natural light into the room. Dated tiles gave way to hardwood floors finished to blend with existing flooring in the now-great-room’s sitting area.
“Being able to do a larger island was key for the family,” says Maaseide, “not only because it provided the extra storage beneath that the family wished for, but it’s also the perfect spot for entertaining, working and eating casual family meals.”
The great room also has access to the grill and patio outside, which was created via an added door.
“We use the kitchen daily for breakfast and dinner, as we love to cook on our new gas stove,” says the homeowner. “It’s really become the gathering place it should always have been.”
Our galley kitchen was so tight and cramped before the remodel,” says homeowner Christina Ledbetter, who loves to cook for her husband, Jared, and three children, ages 4 to 11, and hated her dated galley kitchen in the Burke home. “The backside of the hall closet took up half its footprint, storage was limited and there was only one dim overhead light in the whole space!”
Also based in Burke, interior designer Alison Giese embraced the challenge of updating the kitchen in 2018, enlisting the help of Jason Holsey at Bedrock Remodeling.
In addition to reclaiming the hall closet’s space, Giese replaced a small single window above the sink with a large double one, which not only brought more natural light into the kitchen, but also added visual balance to the existing bay window in the eat-in area. The latter is now home to a custom-designed eat-in banquette.
“Our overall concept was to maintain the galley footprint, but make it feel more visually open and European in style,” says Giese of eliminating all the crowded upper cabinets, except for a custom counter-height hutch designed for large appliances and everyday dish storage.
“I love the look and function of the new marble ledge that runs across the top of the new backsplash,” says the homeowner of the beautifully veined Calacutta Vagli marble that makes up the double feature.
Brand-new, mostly below-the-counter cabinetry from Unique Kitchens & Bath are finished in greige with aged brass hardware. This collaboration was so successful that Giese is now curating a line of custom colors and stains for UK & B. Counters are practical quartz throughout in a high-contrast charcoal hue.
“It’s a highly personalized space that isn’t cookie-cutter,” adds Giese.
Another special feature is the plaster hood that is finished in a lime wash, imparting an aged ‘Old World’ vibe. Though the sink’s location stayed the same, overlooking the backyard, the new apron sink is larger and deeper.
“I get my greatest sense of accomplishment daily from making a scrumptious healthy meal for my family. The kitchen is the heart of our home and the remodel allows us to use it to its fullest potential,” says Ledbetter.