A 1962 midcentury-modern house in Chevy Chase sat vacant for years before its new owners worked with the architecture firms Fowlkes Studio and Assembledge+ to renovate the home. The family wanted to give it a 21st-century feel while honoring its roots. In the kitchen, that meant leaning into clean lines and walnut elements—“not uncommon in midcentury houses,” says architect VW Fowlkes. The walnut on the upper cabinets and island, both by Ferris Custom Cabinetry, has veins of honey, gold, and black, which tie into the ebony bottom and wall cabinets painted Sherwin-Williams “Iron Ore.”
To add to the simplicity, Fowlkes went sans-hardware on the upper cabinets and opted for minimalist, barely-there DP3 tab pulls by Mockett on the lower ones. Crisp white elements come in via Caesarstone quartz countertops and, on the walls, thin bricks painted white, giving the illusion of actual exposed brick. Meanwhile, dark-bronze windows and a glass swing door take advantage of natural light and frame the outdoor greenery, creating a cohesive flow between kitchen and the outdoors.
Architect Eric Colbert expanded and updated the previously cramped kitchen of his 1940s Friendship Heights Colonial alongside the design/build firm Four Brothers. An addition brought increased square-footage and versatility, splitting the kitchen into two distinct parts separated by the original exterior’s exposed brick. The new section, encased in glass walls and a skylight, features a backlit floor made of frosted glass, white cabinets, and white quartz counters. Meanwhile, the preexisting space is much more dramatic than its counterpart, with matte black lower cabinets and black steel upper cabinets custom-designed by Colbert and built by Four Brothers, plus black-stained floors and gray quartz countertops. An old crank-out casement window in the prior kitchen inspired the black, multi-paned cabinet doors, which are made with a pebbled chicken-wire glass.
The two areas also serve separate purposes: The lighter add-on is for washing dishes and cleanup, while the original, darker part is for messy prep work and cooking. Says Colbert: “The opposing white and black are symbolic statements about function.”
Sallie Lord, owner of the design firm GreyHunt Interiors, worked with longtime clients to refresh the kitchen of their Great Falls home. The owners had rented it out for years, but when they moved back in, they decided it was time to say goodbye to its dated, Tuscan-style palette of rusts, creams, and browns. Lord went for a high-contrast look of blacks and whites: The lower cabinets got a coat of Sherwin-Williams “Caviar” and are connected visually to the white upper cabinets thanks to the quartz countertops. Touches of chrome in the range hood and Visual Comfort light fixtures elevate the clean, modern feel.
What appears to be a black-and-white tile backsplash is actually a painted stencil design, which Lord has in her own home. It’s sealed with a top coat and glass—after all, keeping the aesthetic practical was important. “This is a true task space for this family,” says Lord. “They cook a lot and entertain frequently.”
Anything but Basic
When a family of four relocated from New York City to this Palisades new-build, they wanted to add depth and intrigue to the existing blank-slate kitchen created by the developer. “The basic, all-white space left much to be desired,” says interior designer Zoe Feldman of Zoe Feldman Design. So she upgraded the aesthetic with black paint, striking light fixtures, and high-contrast stone.
Feldman went for Benjamin Moore’s “Black Beauty” on the cabinets and walls. To keep it from feeling cave-like, she paired the inky color with white Calacatta Gold marble extending from the countertops to the backsplash and white-oak hardwood floors. Feldman added an extra dose of warmth via the burnt-orange-and-wood pendant lights by Allied Maker that hang over the island, as well as the gold-tone cabinet hardware from Top Knobs. Meanwhile, “Osborn” adjustable arm sconces by Olde Brick Lighting over the kitchen windows blend in with the walls, upping the dark drama. “This home has traditional bones,” says Feldman, “so painting it black modernizes it, elevates it, and makes an impact.”
This article appears in the October 2023 issue of Washingtonian.