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President of Winn Design creates a French, provincial kitchen in his McLean home

After more than 20 years of running his own design-build firm, Michael Winn turned his attention to his family’s home in Northern Virginia.

kitchen with white countertops and grey cabinet
Michael Winn designed his family’s kitchen with a timeless feel that included an imported oven from France, and paired it with modern touches like a space age-looking chandelier. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

When Michael Winn—the man behind the eponymous design-build firm Winn Design—and his wife bought a Cape Cod in McLean as newlyweds 14 years ago, their intention was to renovate it. More than a decade and two kids later, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to design and build a brand-new home. The original house, it turned out, had some structural issues, so down it came. In its place is a 6,000-square-foot, timeless French provincial stunner with every design decision carefully thought out.

“We were in a ‘the cobbler has no shoes’ scenario,” says Winn. “I do this for a living,” yet their own home wasn’t meeting the family’s needs.

This post originally appeared in our October 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here, and for more home content, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

The family likes to entertain, so one of the most important rooms during the design-build process was the kitchen. In the original house, the kitchen was closed off—making dinner parties, and even family meals, a challenge.

“We really wanted to have a kitchen that was more open, the heart of the home, more open to the living space,” says Winn, “that we could entertain in, have kids all crammed onto the island and a place where we could put out trays of food and enjoy time with our guests while we’re cooking.”

Mission accomplished. The new kitchen opens to a family room (with 9-foot-tall windows looking out onto the backyard, allowing for ample sunlight) and a screen porch. Like the rest of the house, the kitchen takes its cues from a French provincial style—but cleverly includes hidden touches that offer modern amenities.

A calming gray palette (thanks to Farrow & Ball paint in Lamp Gray) sets the scene, with gray cabinets running up to the ceiling and anchoring the quartz-topped island. The focal piece of the kitchen, a black Lacanche oven and range, was imported from France. “It is very, very analog,” says Winn. “There’s nothing digital, no modern element to this.”

Because that serves as the kitchen’s focal point, says Winn, they decided to hide away any signs of modern cooking. A Miele convection oven and coffee maker, as well as a separate full-size fridge and freezer, sit behind gray paneled cabinetry. A custom-made oven hood made of white oak and finished in white stucco also adds a French feel to the surreptitiously modern kitchen.

But, not all signs of of-the-moment design are tucked away. A brass, circular chandelier from Le Deun Luminaires in Paris suspended over the island gives an almost striking, space-age feel to the space.

With two kids, now 7 and 9, the couple didn’t forget about function either. Hidden storage under the island acts as a place to stash toys and other kid-friendly supplies. A mudroom and a walk-in pantry off the kitchen also add function.

The family moved back in to the house last summer, ready to welcome guests to their timeless—yet modern—new kitchen.

michael winn standing by sink
Michael Winn (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

Design Philosophy
Winn says, “We tried to make [the house] timeless. The elements of the house that we knew would be difficult to change—the cabinetry, the windows, millwork, the doors—we wanted to build them in a way that wouldn’t become dated.”

Renovation Frustration
“We bought the house with the intent of doing a deep renovation, but quickly found it made more sense to take the house down,” he says, noting that they found some structural issues in the original house when they embarked on the design process.

Favorite Feature of the Room
A breakfast room is tucked away next to the kitchen and “it’s where we have all our family meals. It has 7-foot windows, which provide great light and views of the landscaping.”

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