Kitchen Design & Renovation Clifton VA

Kitchen Design & Renovation Clifton VA

In February 2016, I received a phone call from a lovely lady who had recently moved into her home in Clifton, Virginia with her husband and teenage son.

She said she called me because she reviewed my work and client reviews online, and could tell that I was not a “cookie cutter” type designer.

We met on a February day in her outdated kitchen (see “before” photo above.) She immediately began showing me her collage of inspirational photos. “Wow”, I thought: this is definitely not our standard all-white typical kitchen project.

Aesthetic elements that inspired my client included:

  1. an old wood beam that she and her husband had purchased on a “whim” because of its beauty;
  2. copper elements — a collection of copper mugs that she wanted to display;
  3. multicolored ledgerstone, which was the surround of her fireplace in the Great Room;
  4. blackish steel beams — an industrial element that would provide the structural support required.

We had a clear starting point for the aesthetic elements. But what to do with the awkward kitchen layout?

Directly behind the kitchen was the laundry room, which awkwardly shared the kitchen sink run as you turned the corner to come into the kitchen.

If you look at the before photo below (the sink is not in view because it is on the other side of the room!), you can see that if you were cooking and needed to visit the sink (or vice versa), you would have to cross the room to the other side.

The other element that bothered my client was a single column dividing the Great Room from the kitchen. She wanted to eliminate it. She also wanted to convert the laundry room into a pantry and mudroom.

I examined the rooms’ existing configuration and proposed the following changes. (Any structural or other changes were confirmed and fine tuned by our structural engineer, Rob Fling, and Guy Brannock, Brannock Enterprises.)

  • Relocated the sink to the island;
  • Elongated the shared laundry/kitchen room wall and simultaneously pushed it back away from the kitchen
  • Because my client wanted many appliance conveniences in the kitchen — including a 48″ refrigerator/freezer — we had to shift our thinking. There was not enough room for a 48″ built-in refrigerator/freezer along with the tall micro/single oven cabinet. So I proposed the idea, which appears to be trending nowadays, of substituting a GE 36″ refrigerator in the kitchen and an 18″ Thermador freezer to be located in the pantry.
  • Elongated the main gas range top wall by eliminating the wing-wall on the right and reducing the doorway width into the Keeping Room.

The key aesthetic elements, which involved collaboration with and inspiration from my client included:

  1. Incorporating the wood beam into the hood over the GE Monogram 48″ gas range-top;
  2. Mirroring over the pantry and 18″ Thermador Freezer;
  3. Continuing with the fireplace existing multi-colored ledgerstone theme throughout the kitchen, pantry/mud/laundry mudroom and powder room;
  4. The structural beam would also serve as an aesthetic dividing the Great Room and Dining Room from the kitchen yet still allowing for an open layout concept
  5. Floating shelves and wood countertop in a similar (Oak) wood specie as the wood beam;
  6. LED lighting–strip for wall cabinets and puck for floating shelves;
  7. Copper sink, faucet, pendants, and cabinet hardware;
  8. Engineered quartz for all countertops (except for wood top area).

If you are tired of your current kitchen and looking to upgrade it to suit your current lifestyle and design preferences, give me a call.

I can save you time, money and stress by helping you define and refine your kitchen renovation ideas and your remodeling budget, assisting with the selection of cabinetry, countertops, appliances and all the other fixtures and finishes that go into a new kitchen, and coordinating the delivery and installation of your new kitchen with your contractor or builder.

You can reach me by phone or text at: (703) 801-6402; or by email at: sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.

Planning and Collaboration: The Key to Kitchen Remodeling Success

Planning and Collaboration: The Key to Kitchen Remodeling Success

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

I just received Home & Design magazine’s “Late Spring” issue. I always enjoy opening it and seeing what has debuted lately in the DC/Metro area. What caught my interest this month was the article “Fresh Start“, offering great insight into the reincarnation of a 1950’s split level home in Mclean. The project’s outcome and the tale told therein should be heeded by all homeowners considering the undertaking of a remodeling project.

The photos reveal sequences of tranquil spaces throughout the home; all elements, as can be seen in the photos, take on a fresh airy feel, with each room’s transition into the next as seamless as the one before–including a comfortable relaxed kitchen (my expertise, of course.)

So, besides the beautiful pictures (all illustrating that these particular homeowners love the color blue), what caught my interest? The following excerpt, which echoes perfectly what I embrace when working with my clients:

“The renovation process was remarkably smooth, which Leggin (the architect) and his clients attribute to the seamless collaboration of the design team early on. ‘They met every two weeks for six months to discuss the vision for the plan,” says the husband. ‘It was a totally collaborative process.”

Bingo. They began early. They included several design experts. The homeowners engaged themselves fully with the experts, thereby ensuring that the end result was what they wanted.

To read the full article, “Fresh Start: A Talented Design Team Transforms a Mundane McLean Split-Level,” click here.


Sandra Brannock has designed beautiful and functional custom kitchens for clients throughout Northern Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC region. For more information about Expert Kitchen Designs services, call Sandra direct at (703) 801-6402 or email sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.

Oakton VA Custom Kitchen Makeover

Oakton VA Custom Kitchen Makeover

Oakton VA Custom Kitchen by Sandra Brannock Expert Kitchen DesignsThis proverbial Double Income No Kids (DINKs) couple were tired of their depressing kitchen. It offered no place for friends and family to gather and the cooking area was cramped into the corner. The dark oak cabinets and drawer boxes falling apart when opened further increased the overall frustration and feeling that “this kitchen is hopeless.” At their wits’ end, they made a path my door.

When this couple first came to me, it was obvious that the budget was a big concern. They had listened to advice from many others spanning the subjects of costs, remodeling frustrations, and how to achieve the look they wanted. They were understandably confused and unsure which way to turn.

We sat down together and discussed their expectations. I educated them about the cost elements for their kitchen, including cabinetry choices (which are typically the biggest material cost factor in a kitchen remodeling project). Our conversation immediately eliminated their fear because now they knew what to expect and were ready to embark on the kitchen the remodeling journey.

The first step was to take one last look of what they had endured for years. (Can you imagine anyone trying to do dishes in that very small double bowl sink while someone was taking the pie out of the oven?)
Oakton VA Kitchen Before Remodeling by Sandra Brannock Expert Kitchen Designs

The second challenge for them was deciding upon their style. My second meeting began by visiting their home to solidify this. We discussed other elements in their house that they liked—the furniture, artwork, and color scheme. I asked them: “What makes you feel good?”. After some productive dialogue, CAD drawings and finish comparisons, we settled on a design scheme. We hired a reputable remodeling contractor with whom I had worked.

Here is the final outcome:

Oakton Virginia Custom Kitchen Design by Sandra Brannock

I cannot end this story without giving out thanks to the fabulous remodeling contractor who was exacting in his attention to detail.

What did it cost?

The total cost for this kitchen remodeling project was $46,700.

Fauquier County Kitchen Remodel

Fauquier County Kitchen Remodel

This circa late ‘70s /early ‘80s kitchen became the main focus for a husband and wife, both married for a second time. The short story: for a brief time, this was his “bachelor” pad before he met her. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and homes merge together with his home as the main residence. Her “mission”? Update the kitchen!


The “before” picture (left) reflects most of the elements that required change. After the kitchen design was completed, a complete kitchen demolition was required as “everything must go” (including the washer and dryer!)

New appliance, cabinetry, countertop, floor/tile, fixtures and a new kitchen window were installed to ensure the space was completely up-to-date.

The kitchen’s most important functional design objective was to open it up to adjacent family and dining rooms. This required removing the lower eastern and southern walls.

Voila. We incorporated the following:

  • Kitchen Aid appliances
  • Full overlay Shaker door-style Cherry cabinetry.
  • Engineered Oak floors matching the same in dining room and family room to allow for continuation of the space.
  • Mission type lights over the L-shaped island allowing informal gatherings as family and friend linger in the family and dining room.
  • Recessed lights and under cabinet lighting throughout.
  • All lights have dimmer switches in order to transform task and general into ambient lighting.
  • The most unique piece: a suspended wall cabinet with glass and Mission mullions on all four sides with lighting in the interior.

Overall cost of this project including labor and installation: $80,000.