Home & Style

At Home With Design Pros: Steve Lawlor

What do local architects and interior designers put in their own kitchens? Bamboo floors, aluminum stools, and a 14-foot island.

Steve decided to build a light-filled kitchen in his otherwise traditional rowhouse. Photographe by Judy Davis/Hoachlander Davis Photography.

This 1870s Capitol Hill rowhouse had been converted into a three-unit apartment building. “It was an incredible house,” says architect Steve Lawlor, “and no one was touching it because it required so much work.”

Though he had helped design dozens of award-winning projects around Washington, Lawlor had never created something from scratch for his own family. He and his wife, Susan Ades, director of exhibits at the National Zoo, decided this was their chance.

For Lawlor, an avid cook, the most important space was the kitchen. He put it in the back of the main floor—formerly a bedroom, porch, bath, and closet—because that area faced the sun and looked out onto a towering walnut tree and two-story carriage house.

Throughout the rest of the home, Lawlor took pains to restore period details. But in the kitchen he wanted to create a contrast.

Bamboo floors, quartz countertops, and aluminum stools set a modern tone. New floor-to-ceiling windows and a raised ceiling open the space to the back yard. A 14-foot island with stainless-steel end panels anchors the room. Lawlor placed the range, stove, and refrigerator opposite the island—a setup he calls “incredibly efficient and very social.”

The kitchen has become the family’s favorite space—where they eat dinner every night and the kids do their homework. Lawlor and Ades have hosted winetastings and cheese-making demonstrations around the island and have cooked elaborate meals for friends.

“This kitchen is so airy and open,” Lawlor says. “There’s a sense of breezy freedom when you’re inside it.”

Want to recreate Steve's kitchen in your own home? Here's were to find it.

Range: Viking 36-inch six-burner
Wall oven/microwave: Dacor Millennia series
Cabinets: Christiana Cabinetry from Kitchen and Bath Studio
Backsplash: Precious Gems glass mosaics from Best Tile
Countertops: CaesarStone Desert Limestone
Stools: Aluminum swivel stools from Crate & Barrel
Lighting: Lightolier (recessed), Flos (pendant)
Floors: Bamboo from Teragren

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

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