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.

By: Kathleen Bridges

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.”

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