With marble countertops, a rustic wood-topped island, and a farmhouse sink, you might not guess that this kitchen is in a new home in Bethesda overlooking the Capital Crescent Trail. “We didn’t want it to feel too ‘new house,’ ” says one of the owners. “We really wanted that lived-in European look.”
Designers say many homeowners prefer kitchens with a seamless mix of old and new, especially in brand-new homes. Anthony “Ankie” Barnes—whose firm, Barnes Vanze Architects, oversaw the project—says the key to creating this look is choosing permanent pieces that are classic and timeless, then layering in edgier elements that can be replaced as trends evolve.
“We’ve got antique, reclaimed wooden beams but also ghost chairs at the breakfast table,” says Barnes. “The feeling is quietly sophisticated with a modern touch.”
The owners wanted a center island that had the look and feel of a working kitchen table. Barnes placed a distressed walnut top on turned legs, offering seating for three while disguising the storage and utilities below. “My preference is always to make islands seem lighter, more like furniture,” he says.
On the cabinets, clean-lined, flat-panel doors lean modern, but traditional knobs and hardware keep them from being trendy. A banquette covered in a contemporary outdoor fabric provides seating at a breakfast table, and a glass chandelier and Lucite chairs almost disappear into the view of the woods beyond.
Though some of the marble and wood will eventually show wear, one of the owners says that’s part of the appeal: “A kitchen is meant to be used and lived in. If it looks like an old French kitchen at some point, all the better.”
This article appears in the October 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.