Dream Kitchens: A Ranch House Gets a Lofty Look and Lots of Light

By: Mary Clare Glover

Removing the eight-foot living-room ceiling made the space feel much more open. Photograph by Judy Davis

Donnie Phelps’s brick ranch home had a lot going for it. He bought the kit house from Lowe’s for $12,000 in 1975 and built it himself on the farm where he’d grown up—a scenic setting near Winchester with a pond, woods, and views of the Allegheny Mountains.

But the house had become outdated and drab. “It had an old-fashioned living room that no one ever went in and a small kitchen,” says Phelps’s wife, Kathleen Cregan. “We really wanted to open the space up.”

The couple hired Winchester-based Reader & Swartz Architects—known for offbeat, modern designs—to breathe new life into the kitchen and living room.

To create a loft feel and to make the space more visually interesting, the eight-foot living-room ceiling was removed, exposing the trusses underneath. New, larger windows bring in lots of natural light.

Cregan wanted the kitchen to be modern but not off-putting. She chose bold colors for the walls and minimalist furniture and appliances to create a clean, uncluttered atmosphere.

Architect Beth Reader says the biggest challenge was trying to transform the space visually without expanding the house. “It’s a common problem,” says Reader. “You have this architectural box—how do you make it more enjoyable and interesting to be in?”

Where to Find It

Refrigerator: Cabinet-Depth Euro-Style Stainless by Jenn-Air.

Stove: Double Oven L Series in Classic Stainless by Wolf.

Cabinets: Quality Custom Cabinetry in New Holland, Pennsylvania.

Cabinet installation: Round Hill Design Studio in Round Hill, Virginia.

Cabinet design: Maureen Limon of Fresh Air Designs in Winchester.

Stools: LEM Piston Stool from Design Within Reach.

Kitchen light fixtures: MonoRail and pendants by Tech Lighting.

Living-room light fixtures: Kable Lite by Tech Lighting.

Living-room ceiling fan: Altus by Modern Fan Company.

Living-room and dining-room flooring: Bamboo by EcoTimber.

This article first appeared in the October 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.