November 1, 2019
Designer Michael Winn, the founder of Falls Church, Va.-based Winn Design + Build, originally was looking at a fairly straightforward project. The clients’ home was outdated, and it did not reflect their personality or aesthetic preferences. Instead, they wanted the kitchen to feel more functional and have a contemporary design. This common request turned into a more complicated issue when the design team dove into this project.
The owners of this home were nervous about starting their first-ever renovation, and according to Winn, they knew they’d need extra hand holding during the process.
“During the first project meeting, the owners were adamant they did not want an open floor plan and that under no circumstances would they consider removing any walls,” said Winn, adding that his firm was chosen for this tricky project because of a recommendation from the clients’ friend.
After surveying the space, the design team felt they needed to try to convince the owners to remove a wall between the kitchen and dining room to realize their desired ambiance. This turned out to be one of the owners’ favorite decisions.
“Their one ‘sacred cow’ was the wall between the kitchen and dining room, which they were adamantly against removing,” explained Winn. “We delicately walked them to the solution, which eventually convinced them that it was necessary to achieve their project goals.”
Even with the wall removed between the kitchen and dining room, the firm’s biggest challenge was still the lack of space. Three walls couldn’t be moved because of what was on the other side – a stairway, a bathroom and the backyard. Instead, the team decided to use a white palette and install a large patio door leading to the yard outside to maximize light.
“People tend to live off of the back of their homes, and so projects that engage the backyard tend to be more successful,” said the designer. “In this case, the patio door helped make a smaller kitchen not feel quite so small.”
A Minimalist Palette
For this smaller space, the team chose a monolithic, white color scheme for both the cabinetry – a flat-panel, Euro-style door – and the countertops, including a waterfall edge on the new island. This unadorned color is contrasted by minimalist black hardware, a black-matte sink faucet and a natural gray stone backsplash, which appears both behind the range wall and on another break in the cabinetry on the adjacent wall.
In addition, the new stainless-steel appliances – including a prominent range hood – stand out from the white cabinetry. Two fun pendants above the island help to tie it all together with swirling black metal around a long white encasement.
Additional updates included adding recessed lighting, replacing all of the millwork, air-sealing and insulating throughout and updating the hall bathroom, which also served as both a guest bathroom and the main bathroom for their son.
“Because there is no powder room and this bathroom serves multiple purposes, we wanted it to be functional but also consistent with the aesthetics of the newly renovated kitchen,” said Winn.
Carrying off the nearby kitchen’s minimalist palette, this small bath got a refresh with a dark wood vanity, the same white countertop featured in the kitchen and updated fixtures. For a hint of character, a three-dimensional gray tile was used in the shower/tub combo, which also has built-in niches for added functionality.
“I really like how the shower wall tile turned out,” said Winn. “This was our first time working with this material, and I thought it added a lot of visual interest with the changing angular shapes and shadows.”
Designer: Michael Winn, Winn Design + Build
Photographer: Stacy Zarin Goldberg
Cabinetry: Rutt Handcrafted Cabinetry
Hardware: Atlas Homewares
Pendants: Lamps Plus
Tile: Pental Surfaces
Towel Warmer: MrSteam