It’s the perfect space to age in place and host their four kids
A recently retired couple from Chevy Chase, Maryland, hired Charles Warren of Teass \ Warren Architects to help them shop for a new home and then renovate it. The catch? They didn’t want to stray from the neighborhood where they raised their four children.
In the summer of 2019, a midcentury-modern house just a mile from their redbrick Colonial caught their eye. “The light struck us when we walked into this house,” one of the owners says. Charles, too ,was immediately impressed. “The house had good midcentury bones, a good footprint, and was structurally solid,” the architect says.
While the team didn’t dramatically alter the layout, they took down the walls in the main living space to create an open floor plan. “We need to host our large family—our kids are marrying and having their own kids—for holidays, but we didn’t want a separate dining room,” the homeowner says. It was also important that everything looked tidy.
Charles designed a large, modern kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space. “It’s a wide U-shape with a center island,” he says. Generous passageways ensure that the couple can age in place, which was a major requirement for the home, overall.
To ensure the spaces always look their best, Charles captured square footage from the carport and created a butler’s pantry that does double duty as an office. The narrow swathe includes a sink, a dishwasher, a fridge, and a secondary pantry, along with pocket doors, to hide any mess. “In the evening, we sit in the living room and look across the beautiful, open space,” the owner says. “This kitchen has made our lives easier.”
Kitchen location: Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.
The before: The kitchen was self-contained rather than integrated with the living and dining areas. “We could see the possibility of it all being a large, open space, though it took a very large piece of steel to achieve it,” the owner says.
The inspiration: A blue, white, and rustic wood kitchen designed by Blakes London.
Square footage: The kitchen itself is about 320 square feet and the pantry is 150 square feet.
Budget: “This is the house we will spend the rest of our lives in, so we allowed ourselves to spend money on the things we really wanted, on the main floor,” the homeowner says.
Cabinets: The base cabinets are quarter-sawn red oak with a custom, whitewash glaze for a rustic effect. The towers are painted in Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore, as are the glass-front upper cabinets. “Not having uppers looks pretty, but seems very impractical,” the owner says. “All I think when I see open shelving is dust. I like things put away and tidy.”
Hardware: To maintain clean lines, the team opted for push latch doors on the base cabinets, which the owner acknowledges took some getting used to. The others sport Emtek knobs and pulls with a brushed nickel finish. “Brass spoke to me as being way too trendy,” the owner says. “I wanted it to be timeless.”
Counters and backsplash: Polished Caesarstone quartz tops the counters along the perimeter and runs up the walls behind the sink and the range. “We didn’t want to overdo it by adding another material for the backsplash,” Charles explains. The island countertop is also quartz, but with a raw concrete look.
Floors: For a natural look that doesn’t sacrifice durability, the crew treated the character grade white oak with Bona Traffic Naturale. The butler’s pantry boasts Brazil black slate tiles by Daltile with a natural cleft finish. “It’s a durable material with some softness that blends with the bluestone outdoors,” Charles says.
Lighting: Barn Light Electric Company globes grace the kitchen. An orange pendant by Troy RLM provides a pop of color over the desk in the butler’s pantry. The pair of wood slat pendants by Secto Design casts beautiful shadows in the dining room at night.
Appliances: Miele appliances match the kitchen’s modern styling. Panel-ready refrigerator and freezer columns integrate seamlessly into the wall of cabinetry where there is also a steam oven for proofing dough. “I started baking bread before it became popular during COVID-19,” the owner says.
Stools: The McGee & Co. stools have rustic oak seats and an airy metal base.
Dining table: Local woodshop Abernethy Sticks fabricated all the cabinetry and crafted the custom dining table from wild cashew imported from Costa Rica.
Most insane splurge and sneakiest save: Custom cabinets were both a splurge and a save. “Custom cabinets are expensive, but here they were more economical than semi-custom ones because of all the features we incorporated, including an appliance garage and the spice cabinet on the endcap, to the left of the range,” Charles explains.
The best part: “At the time I thought it was frivolous, but I love my touch faucet,” the owner admits.
What I’d never do again: The owners rave that the kitchen turned out exactly as they’d hoped, though Charles recognizes opportunity for fine tuning. “I would have given a little more depth to the upper cabinets as they are a bit undersized for large platters,” he says.
Final bill: They ran about 30 percent over the initial estimate for the kitchen. “We decided to bring the cabinets to the ceiling, which added a significant chunk of change,” Charles adds. The move not only provides more storage, but reinforces the sloped architecture of the roofline.