February 27, 2023
When designer Anna Gibson and her family moved into their home in Reston, Va. in 2019, she knew they were eventually going to need a major renovation. The main floor had no bathroom, the HVAC was in the middle of the house, and there was not enough space in which to live comfortably and functionally. Gibson, CKBD, owner and chief designer for AKG Design Studio, knew that adding space and remodeling the home to their specific needs would require a larger budget, so she and her husband pulled together their resources to achieve their dream plan for the designer’s own home.
The designer said they spent their money wisely, saving and splurging to stay on track. The overall flooring is a budget-friendly engineered hardwood, and Gibson received certain discounts through her successful vendor relationships – a definite bonus for the trade.
A Kitchen With Equal Parts Aesthetics & Organization
The designer loves to cook, so she needed more function, but she also wanted to create a wow factor so clients can get a firsthand view of her work when they visit her home. The new kitchen is in the same location as the former, but knocking down a wall accommodated a sizable island, and a larger window brings in more natural light.The previous dining room is now home to a bar, where the Scottish husband likes to host whiskey tastings.
In the designer’s own home, blue and black shades dominate the new kitchen color scheme, and the starting point was the quartzite countertop with blue, green, black and gray hues. When Gibson saw the material three years ago, she asked the stone importer to save her two slabs. To provide some contrast, the island also features ready-made, butcher-block countertops installed by the carpenter.
The maple-finished cabinets do double duty with some offering a slab look and others taking on the shaker style for a modern yet soft look. The porcelain tile backsplash also incorporates blue, and the bold wallpaper in the bar, which Gibson said was hard to find, complements all the colors in the kitchen.
“I wanted to add some drama to this area and give it some definition as its own space,” said the designer.
Gibson planned out her storage so that everything from serving dishes, to dog supplies to small appliances has its place. The bar area also features a pantry and a coffee station, and the drawers are equipped with chargers inside, which hide cords and outlets. The island houses a pullout for small appliances, trash and recycling storage, large drawers for pots and pans and a prep sink, which was high on the designer’s wish list. The deeper cabinets on the refrigerator wall store items for baking, as well as everyday things like the toaster, and she also included a cabinet just for Tupperware with rollouts.
The kitchen in the designer’s own home is equipped with a multitude of appliances, the majority of which are connected to make cooking easier and more efficient. Gibson said installing the induction range instead of using gas was a struggle since she had been using gas all her life.
“Our neighborhood didn’t have gas, and it would have been really expensive to add it to our home,” she explained. “I did install the TV-look hood as a statement piece.”
Gibson originally planned on pendant lights over the island, but after seeing the final space, she decided she did not want to obstruct the view of the hood, which is a great focal point. The new design features all recessed fixtures, undercabinet lighting, LED illumination under the island and wall sconces in the bar area – all controllable via Alexa.
Becoming the Bathrooms
The previous primary bath was in a word, tiny, and could functionally only be used by one person at a time. Gibson borrowed some space from the bedroom and was able to add some square footage for a double vanity. She eliminated the tub, and the shower is now large enough for two people. It includes a rainhead and handheld showerhead, which can also be used for cleaning the shower and bathing the dog.
The color scheme here is also blue and black, as seen in the shower floor (penny tile) and wall (4 by 10 porcelain tile) and detail in the glass shower door. A natural quartzite countertop and wood vanity add warmth to the space, and the double vanity includes drawers in lieu of doors, and each features outlets and chargers inside.
With the addition to the home, the designer was able to include a powder room on the main floor, eliminating the need for guests to use the daughter’s bath upstairs or the one in the basement. She turned the stairs in the hall sideways and tucked the powder room in front of them. This whimsical space features a wall-hung vanity, bold wallpaper and some Scottish art for a splash of color.
Designer’s Own Home Adds Accessibility, Wellness & Sustainability
Gibson’s husband broke his foot several years ago and was immobile for several months. She realized the importance of planning ahead for such occurrences, which is another reason the family needed access to a bathroom on the main floor.
The drawer microwave, which is easy to reach, is apropos for living and aging in place. It also offers convection cooking, which Gibson says is easier to use for one with limited movement.
“The drawer comes out, so there is no need to bend over or deal with hot oven racks,”she added. The induction cooktop is flameless, offers a clear hot surface indicator, and there is an auto shutoff if a pot or pan is removed from the surface. The prep faucet is touch-operated and is on the island’s edge for easy reach. Connected/controllable lighting eliminates the need to push buttons in the dark, and a wall outlet features a LED nightlight.
Paying close attention to the health and wellness of her family in the designer’s own home, Gibson installed a hood with a 24-hour vent feature that circulates air even if no one is cooking. Sustainability was also important, and as such she used natural materials everywhere possible, as well as those that can easily be recycled or upcycled at the end of their lifecycle.
When asked about challenges of working on the designer’s own home, Gibson admitted to changing her mind often about every little thing. She even has a stash of her original choices when she ultimately found things she liked better.
“We love our renovation and spend almost all our time at home,” said Gibson. “We never want to leave.”
—By Chelsie Butler
Designer: Anna Gibson, CKBD, AKG Design Studio
Photographer: Mary Pat Collins Photography
Backsplash: The Tile Shop
Beverage Refrigerator: Zephyr
Countertop: Virginia Marble and Granite
Hardware: Top Knobs
Microwave Drawer: Sharp
Wall Sconces: Kohler
Countertop: Taj Mahal
Shower Tile: Floor & Decor
Hardware: Top Knobs
Lighting: Millennium Lighting
Mirrors, Sinks, Toilet: Kohler
Shower Fittings: Delta
Vanity: Home Depot
Faucet & Hardware: Brizo
Lighting: Livex Lighting