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Dream Kitchens 2012: Modern Counterpoint

A traditional home doesn’t have to mean a traditional kitchen. Here’s how one family created an ultramodern kitchen in a classic Colonial.

Photograph by Maxwell MacKenzie.

Where to Find It

Cabinets: White oak by Bulthaup. Counters: Calcutta Gold marble, white oak, and stainless steel by Bulthaup. Hardware, backsplash, sink, and fixtures: Bulthaup. Refrigerator and freezer: Liebherr. Dishwasher: Fisher & Paykel. Hood, cooktop, and ovens: Gaggenau. Lighting: 3G. Windows: Weather Shield.

When the owners of this center-hall Colonial in DC’s Forest Hills were on vacation, a toilet overflowed upstairs, flooding the entire downstairs and ruining their traditional kitchen. They decided it was a chance to try something new.

“The owners had seen a modern kitchen we inserted into a traditional Craftsman and loved that idea of playing with the architectural vernacular,” says architect Robert Gurney.

Gurney started by combining a series of small rooms—a breakfast nook, kitchen, small alcove, and pantry—into one space, culminating in floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the wooded back yard. To achieve a streamlined, minimalist look, he chose white-oak cabinets by Bulthaup and mounted them flush with the wall, leaving the space underneath exposed.

“This enabled the kitchen to have a much lighter feeling,” says Gurney. “It’s something new, this idea of ‘floating’ kitchens.”

Instead of using a more traditional painted drywall, Gurney installed a series of aluminum panels behind the sink, giving the protection of a backsplash but also bouncing light around the room. Glass doors hidden in the panels store knives and utensils. Gray limestone floors, which are heated with radiant panels, pick up the dark veins of the Calcutta Gold marble on the island and the quartzite around the sink.

George Collins, the project’s general contractor, says that he’s seeing more modern kitchens in traditional homes: “It doesn’t seem out of scale or out of place. You walk into this kitchen and it feels like it belongs.”

Explore More Dream Kitchens ››

This article appears in the October 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

  • Marina Ignatyev

    Love the minimalistic design! I am planning a DIY kitchen remodel right now and this kitchen caught my eye because it has a lot of elements that I plan on using in my kitchen as well. I already got the cabinet doors that are very very similar to these & I love the white countertop. FRESH & MODERN. Great job!

  • Kitchenguy

    There's something about Bulthaup, that always allows me to spot their designs in seconds... In this case, the faucets, the handles and the backsplash. I've featured them in my blog several times (, as this is such a great product!

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