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At Home With Design Pros: Kevin Walker

What do local architects and interior designers put in their own kitchens? A vertical wine rack, awning-style cabinets, and a farm-style sink.

Kevin and Kelly Walker used chalkboard paint to create an unusual backsplash.
When Kevin and Kelly Walker bought an early-1900s Victorian in Winchester, Virginia, their first mission was to overhaul the kitchen. The tiny space—160 square feet—hadn’t been renovated in 35 years. Kevin, an architect at Reader & Swartz Architects, and Kelly, a health educator, had a budget of $25,000. Kevin did the demolition himself, including tearing out a wall of built-in cabinets that closed the kitchen off from the dining room.

To replace the lost storage, they built shelves and a vertical wine rack around the existing chimney flue and added a cabinet with glass doors for cookbooks under the island. In the dead space above the kitchen cabinets, they repurposed old radiator cover boxes by turning them into awning-style cabinets that open vertically. Choosing a range with downdraft ventilation meant they didn’t have to make room for a hood. Another money saver was the backsplash, which Kevin and Kelly created with chalkboard paint. Along with adding a whimsical element, it’s a convenient spot to jot down grocery lists and phone messages.

The Walkers love the kitchen’s mix of old and new. Stainless appliances and splashes of red feel modern; butcher-block countertops and a farm-style sink evoke the home’s history. “You have to be creative in a small space like this,” says Kevin. “No corner went unused.”

Dishwasher: Maytag
Refrigerator: Kenmore
Sink: Ikea Domsjö double bowl
Faucet: Hansgrohe single-handle pullout kitchen faucet (Allegro E Collection)
Backsplash paint: Rust-Oleum Magnetic Primer and Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Paint
Floor finish: Minwax ebony stain (two coats); water-based satin finish by Bona Traffic
Countertops: Boos butcher block (Rock Maple, edge grain) with Boos Mystery Oil finish

This article first appeared in the October 2010 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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