A Contemporary Kitchen Story
(Based on a Dishwasher)
Renovation by Gilday Renovations
In 1969 two attorneys put down roots by purchasing a charming, colonial home in Chevy Chase. The dreams of renovation started immediately. “I had been talking about re-doing the kitchen since the day we bought the house,” says the homeowner. The homeowners found themselves drawn to a more contemporary-style family room addition on the house but the kitchen remained untouched until two years ago when a major appliance gave up the ghost.
“We had a portable dishwasher that finally died and was no longer fixable,” says the homeowner, “we were not going to buy another portable and you couldn’t install a built-in dishwasher without doing the entire kitchen.” The homeowners put in a call to Rosemarie R. Howe, of Rosemarie R. Howe Interiors, based in the District, who had worked with them on some smaller projects in the past.
“The old kitchen looked like it should have been in the Smithsonian,” says Howe, “and they wanted to do something more contemporary.” Howe knew the kitchen was beyond the help of an interior design spruce-up and she recommended the homeowners to Gilday Renovations in Silver Spring.
Architect Robert Laird of Gilday, paid a site visit and saw potential for reconfiguring the room. “There was an extra pantry space in between the kitchen and the dining room,” says Laird. “It was fairly large and separated by a non load-bearing wall.”
Images by Kenneth Wyner
The butler’s pantry wasn’t conveniently located but it was being put to good use. “We had a second fridge in there, storage for platters and dinnerware but whatever you needed was always in the next room,” says the homeowner. The plans called for the removal of the butler’s pantry with everything in the space finding a new home in the updated cabinetry.
The design team also envisioned better people-flow with the addition of a screened-in porch. “Originally we had a set of French doors opening out to a set of stone steps that lead down into the back yard,” says Laird. “The homeowners wanted the doors to open wider so we found these aluminum sliding doors where the three panels can be stacked in front of each other.” When the weather cooperates, two of the sliding panels are opened which extends dining and entertaining options for the space.
The homeowners also had an island on their wish list, one element that exacted a compromise. “It was a design challenge,” says the homeowner, “there’s no seating at the island because if we did that there wouldn’t be room for the table and chairs.”
The table and chairs were staying put since they are original Saarinen, that were collected then painstakingly restored. The other major elements of the room were also carefully selected for specific reasons. “The slate we used for the flooring is not easily found any more, says Howe, “but it was picked because it matches what’s in the addition.”
Design by Rosemarie R. Howe Interiors
Dark cherry cabinetry and granite countertops reflects the feel in the addition. Stone selection was accomplished via a ladies shopping day at the warehouse. “That was really, really fun,” says Howe, “you go to a huge building that’s like an airport hangar where a giant machine comes over and picks up the slabs. You chose your slab, then you chose what part you want for your countertop.”
The simple looking backsplash also found it’s way into the kitchen with a story. “We started looking at glass for budgetary reasons but the homeowner doesn’t like the color green,” says Howe. Since even clear glass has a green tint the design team experimented with painting the wall different colors and then putting sheets of glass in front of it till they achieved just the right look.
The homeowners moved out for seven months while the work was being completed and had a few concerns about how the new room was going to work especially in terms of the storage lost from demolishing the butler’s pantry. “We were dubious and it was an issue,” says the homeowner, “but we actually had space to spare.”
Everybody has their own favorite parts of the project, the architect’s is located outside. “There was a set of stone steps leading up to the back door, we were able to preserve those by designing the new porch so it would come right to the head of the steps,” says Laird.
“The porch gave them a new way to use the house,” says Howe, “it’s a family home for the next generation and it works.” The warmth and utility of the space also rings true for the people who use it everyday. “I like the way it looks and it’s a pleasure to cook in,” says the homeowner. “All the appliances work and it’s an efficient space. After we moved back in, for awhile I was afraid somebody was going to show up and make me go back to old kitchen.”
Text and images originally appeared in the October/November 2009 issue of Chesapeake Home Magazine.
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