Kitchen Remodel Lets the Views Shine In

Moving one wall, and partially removing several others, transformed the dark and cramped kitchen in this 42-year-old residence in Potomac, Md. into a bright and inviting social center for its owners who are thrilled with their modern Zen-inspired space. See how.

November 30, 2007
Kitchen Remodel
Products List
Supporting cast

Moving one wall and partially removing several others transformed the dark and cramped kitchen in this 42-year-old residence into a bright and inviting social center for its owners, who are thrilled with their modern Zen-inspired space.

Although the original design for the kitchen included a skylight, it did little to brighten the closed space. With the improved visual connection between the kitchen and adjoining great room, the skylight works with all the glass to bring in the light and the view.  After photos by Yerko Pallominy

"This kitchen remodel was part of a larger overall project that we were doing for these clients," says Chris Landis of Washington, D.C.-based Landis Construction. In addition to redoing the kitchen, the remodeler also completely reconfigured the couple's adjoining main-floor master suite, reversing the bedroom and study locations and adding a spa-like bath and large walk-in closet. The moves finally created a direct connection that links the two areas of the home.

One major design flaw of the original kitchen, says Armin Bondoc, director of design for Landis Construction, was that it was very narrow. "It did contain a center island, but it was not wide enough to function well for the homeowners. With only 13 feet of space to work with, there was not really enough room to give them a larger one."

Because the areas being remodeled in the Potomac, Md., home were side-by-side, Bondoc's solution was to borrow space from the master suite and add it to the kitchen by moving the wall that divided the rooms by two feet. "It was amazing how much of a difference this made in the kitchen," he says. "It allowed us to enlarge the island and reconfigure the arrangement of the cabinetry so that everything works much better for them."

The second element to be addressed was that the kitchen's central location on the main floor was isolated visually from the rest of the home's entertaining space. The living and dining rooms were contained in a single, large combined area that the homeowners use as the great room. Both shared a volume ceiling and a dramatic view of the outdoors through a triangular wall of glass, "but they could not really enjoy this from their kitchen because there was only a single doorway opening connecting the two areas," Bondoc says. "This design also made the room feel dark and closed in."

The new kitchen cabinetry was chosen to complement the homeowner's furnishings in the great room that is now part of its visual space.

By removing the upper portion of the walls on either side of the doorway, the two areas became connected. The remaining half walls were capped with granite counters that match the kitchen's new countertops. Designed with a slight overhang that extends into the great room, these counters can now be used as a serving buffet, snack bar or conversation center. A portion of the full-height existing wall was retained to provide space for a new, commercial-style stainless steel refrigerator. A steel beam wrapped in drywall was installed in the ceiling to provide support for the span where the original wall sections stood.

The variation in ceiling height, now visible throughout the kitchen and entertaining areas because of the expanded views, offers a very dynamic feel, says Bondoc. "The new arrangement definitely brings a lot more light into the interior of the home."

The deep finish on the new cabinetry in the new kitchen was selected to coordinate with the couple's Asian-inspired furnishings in their newly exposed great room. Stainless steel appliances along with door and drawer pulls complement the kitchen's sophisticated contemporary style.

The kitchen's new design features a multi-level island and a pair of elevated snack bars.

The couple each had a personal requirement for the new kitchen, says Bondoc. "One big thing that the husband wanted was a built-in coffee center. The wife, who loves to bake, wanted a workspace with a lower counter height to accommodate her small stature. We were able to give them both."

The coffee maker is incorporated into a new wall of cabinetry that also includes double ovens and a TV niche flanked by a pair of pantries with frosted glass doors. The new island's lower extension is convenient to the ovens as well as a food prep sink.

The kitchen also features a pass-through opening in the wall above the main sink. This lets anyone working in the kitchen see into the home's main entry foyer. "The wife is a clothing designer who works primarily from home, and this allows her to keep an eye on who is entering the home throughout the day," says Bondoc. "On the other hand, those coming in do not have a direct view into the kitchen itself."

The beautifully executed project met all the client's expectations in terms of style and function.



Kitchen Remodel

AGE OF HOME: 42 years
SCOPE OF WORK: Kitchen remodel that was part of a larger project including a master suite and great room

Products List

Cabinets: Aristokraft, Well's Woodworking (custom) Ceramic tile: American Marazzi, Porcelanosa Countertops: granite (Giallo ornamental) Built-in coffee center: Miele Windows and doors: Pella Faucets: Kohler, Grohe HVAC: Bryant Flooring: Atlas Floors Lighting fixtures: Lightolier House wrap: Tyvek Kitchen appliances: Sub-Zero, Ferguson, Dacor Millwork and molding: Architectural Products by Outwater

Supporting cast

To increase the width of the kitchen so that it would accommodate a larger island and the amenities the clients desired, Landis Construction borrowed space from a second remodeling project that involved the adjoining master suite.

The redesigned master retreat featured a separate bedroom and study linked by a hallway and a central, dual-access walk-in closet. By recessing a portion of the kitchen wall into this space, Landis Construction designer Armin Bondoc was able to increase the width of the kitchen by an extra 2 feet without significantly affecting the size of the bedroom or study.

Shifting the wall did pose some significant structural issues, says remodeler Chris Landis. A dropped header, required after the initial demolition, made a portion of the structure visible. A double laminated veneer lumber (LVL) beam supported with two intermediate steel columns was used to maximize the height. The columns themselves were concealed within 3-inch-wide fillers located on either side of the new TV niche in the kitchen.

"Without the structural solution, we would not have been able to achieve our cabinetry and appliance goals," Landis says.

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