May 15, 2015
There has always been an innate connection between the garden and the kitchen. Whether the landscaping complements the indoors with an eating area or simply adds to the view, a great outdoor space often seeps into great kitchen design. In the case of this Great Falls, Va., home though, the backyard’s dramatic landscape and the home’s collection of contemporary art clashed with a formerly cold, colorless kitchen.
“A description of their existing kitchen sounded fine on paper – contemporary slab doors, granite countertops, island with cooktop – but the cook felt isolated and the angled island made the kitchen feel uninviting,” said designer Meghan Browne of Chevy Chase, Md.-based Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath, who worked in collaboration with Washington, D.C.-based Treacy & Eagleburger Architects. “They wanted a brighter space with room for guests to gather and increased counter space for multiple prep zones.”
To start off with a brighter design, the team eliminated cabinetry on the back wall of the kitchen to allow for floor-to-ceiling glass with 8-ft. sliders. With these walls of glass, indoors and outdoors seem to transition seamlessly into one another. By opening up the kitchen to the dining and living room, the space also looks out on more of the outside property. The only problem was removing the load-bearing wall.
“We had to instead have a supporting post in this area, so we built it into the island to give it a sense of purpose,” said Browne, adding that the island was turned and made larger so that it was in proportion with the larger space and faced the view of the koi pond.
All of the support posts are wrapped in wood veneer to match the existing exposed wood beams and tongue-and-groove decking on the ceiling. The new post’s attached island, topped with two different slabs of granite, makes obvious its dual purpose as both a cooking space and eating area. On each side of the island, waterfall ends ground the piece and show off the stone veining.
The lighter type of granite continues on the L-shaped eat-in counter that borders the cooktop and repeats on the tabletop in the banquette area. For the most used places, like the counter directly around the cooktop and on the sink wall, the darker granite was chosen.
“It’s hardworking and easy to clean,” said Browne, also pointing out the frameless cabinets that help maximize storage. “The doors are easy to care for too, with a melamine finish around the sink and island area.”
The cabinets draw from the original post-and-beam construction, which sets the tone for clean lines. Equipped with channel hardware, the sleek cabinet doors and base pulls require no extraneous hardware to break up their façade. One wall of appliances also has steel doors for another clean aesthetic. Instead the eye goes to the pops of eclectic art now prominently hung in the kitchen.
“The homeowners display their wonderful contemporary art collection throughout the house and wanted to include it in the new kitchen,” said the designer. “We took inspiration from their artwork and sculptures to create a layered and nuanced space that flows into adjacent rooms.”
To further connect the space, the cabinet finish echoes the tones of the stone patio “almost as if it were one large space,” said Browne. “Replacing the back wall with glass really helped this – obliterating the separation of indoor and out and bringing in lots of light and beautiful views.”
Designer: Jennifer Gilmer and Meghan Browne of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Chevy Chase, Md.
Architect: Treacy Eagleburger Architects, Washington, DC
Photographer: Bob Narod
Backsplash: Back painted glass by Hutchison Glass, Jessup, MD
Countertops: Stella Notte and Cambrian Antique Granite
Microwave Oven: Miele
Refrigerator: Miele Sink: Kohler