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Sleek Modern Home in Washington, DC

The owners of a charming circa 1930 modified Cape Cod style stone house in Washington, DC had a cramped 12’ x 12’ kitchen, remodeled several decades ago, opening onto the central hallway. The walls of a small hallway closet intruded into one corner of the room. A load bearing header cutting across the room could not be eliminated. With the kitchen bounded by the dining room, breakfast room and a short passage leading out to the garage, expansion was not in the cards. The challenge was to integrate a chef’s kitchen designed for socializing into the existing space. After some deliberation, the closet function was relocated and we were able to reclaim that corner, but there was still the problem of how to fit more storage, bigger appliances, and better work space into 144 square feet without making it feel crowded.

With these constraints, the solution that emerged keeps the room’s existing cabinetry footprint, but places the new Wolf 36” gas range so the adjacent peninsula becomes both a generous sized prep surface as well as accommodating counter height seating on the hallway side. Moving the range allows symmetrical wall cabinets to flank the sink and frame the window, with two sets of three doors sleeved by a flush face frame on top and both sides. The sink countertop, done in Caesarstone’s Pure White quartz, extends down to the floor on both ends in a waterfall, creating a similar sleeve housing the base cabinets and integrated Miele dishwasher, projecting out from a shallower base cabinet and top at one end and an equal depth narrow broom closet on the other. Both the sink wall cabinetry and the range and peninsula are done in white with simple, elegantly quiet framed flat panel door and drawer fronts, the carefully placed minimalist modern brushed nickel knobs and pulls from Colonial Bronze. Elongated white glass tile from Architectural Ceramics, set in a running bond pattern, lines both walls and extends to the ceiling behind the range. These two entirely white elevations bring a luminosity to the previously dingy kitchen. The crown molding was eliminated from the ceiling line, further opening the space visually.

The Wolf range sits beneath a starkly modern custom designed hot rolled steel hood, sloping out to the left and front but chopped straight down by the load bearing header on the right side, reinforcing the line of the peninsula front extending into the room. At the bottom of the hood, a gleaming stainless steel hemline peeking out is a foil to the raw steel’s industrial patina, as it houses the recessed stainless exhaust insert.

Directly across the room, in stunning contrast, the remaining wall is dominated by a grand mahogany armoire with birds-eye maple raised panels, done in a Georgian revival style inspired by the work of Stanford White in the late 19th century, accented by oversized wire wrapped brass pulls of modern design. The armoire conceals a Sub-Zero integrated refrigerator and freezer column, and includes a food pantry cabinet with a microwave on one of its shelves. The effect is like a feature piece in a museum gallery, appropriate to the homeowners’ discriminating tastes in art and antiques. The wall around it is dramatically painted a very dark green.

In adjacent breakfast room, from which the armoire is fully visible through a wide arched opening, an outdated wet bar is supplanted by a cantilevered walnut server that seemingly floats out from a surround of slab front cabinets painted white to match the wall into which it is set flush. Echoing the theme of the sink wall in the kitchen, the doors and drawers of the walnut server are set inside a sleeve of walnut with a beveled face frame. The server and surrounding cabinetry are absent of hardware, making them functional modern sculpture. Along with the formal traditional armoire and the edgy industrial hood and professional range, a fascinating design dialog activates and distinguishes this subtly eclectic and otherwise restful space. The owners are thrilled with its unique style, excellent function, and sociable personality.

Working with adventurous and trusting clients, Scott Stultz designed the project. He also conceived and designed the Stanford and Academy series used here, for Premier Custom-Built, who fabricated the cabinetry. The project was executed to perfection by Federalist Builders of Washington, DC.

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