Behind The Scenes

A Craftsman Home Kitchen, Pantry, Mudroom and Powder Room Renovation.

In July of 2018 I met with an executive who had just purchased (the ink was barely dry!) a 15-year-old home in a mature but elegant Northern Virginia neighborhood. He wanted the interior and exterior to reflect more of his style.

He also owned a home in Jackson, Wyoming, and expressed great appreciation for the rustic architectural and interior design elements therein. “Why can’t I do that here?” he asked while we walked around observing white painted craftsman columns, chair rail, traditional ceiling crown moldings, transoms, and hollow raised panel doors.

After seeing photos of his JH place, I knew he wanted a masculine type interior quality. I explained to him that we could achieve this by adhering to a sophisticated edgy style that would complement his new home’s style. We could achieve a look that suited him without going too far out on a ledge by “importing” too much rusticity from Wyoming.

I had my work cut out for me as I learned more. My client had never gone through a major remodel. He also was a “take charge” type, and was under the impression that what he wanted to undertake (which was not quite yet determined but as we walked through the house, I could tell it was going to become much broader in scope) could be planned and executed in about 4 months.

The first area we addressed was the kitchen which boasted cherry cabinets with flutes and corbels. Speckled gold/greenish and orange granite tops with 4″ tall splashes did everything to enhance an overdone red theme. “I think we will keep the Kitchen Aid built in refrigerator and freezer,” my client said. “And the dishwashers, if possible. And the wine captain.”

My client then pointed to the Thermador cooktop. I had commented it was “almost new” and did he want to reuse it? He said he wanted a 48″ professional gas range, “something like Wolf.” I asked him if he knew that there were other types of ranges, and threw out some names — La Canache, Ilve, La Cornue– and proceeded to share with him a few images on my phone. He immediately “lit up” with interest.

I would say the range discussion began the real start of the kitchen transformation. This element became the driving force that guided us throughout the rest of process by identifying two main things:

1) a particular look/style
2) an important focal point

As we progressed, I emphasized to him that other appliances drive the design, and that if we were going to go with a unique range, we may need to rethink reuse of existing appliances. I likened the reuse to wearing a new Armani suit paired with Walmart shoes. I recommended he visit the Miele Experience Center at Tyson’s Corner to get more ideas, as well as my appliance person in Chantilly, to check out other gourmet appliances such as Sub Zero.

After these appointments he presented to me a large list of appliances that would make anyone take notice. Clearly, if we were going to do this remodel, we were not going to fool around.

I referred him to a contractor that I had worked with successfully in the past, Will Harvey Construction. I also emphasized to my client that lighting is extremely important, and if wanted the best outcome, that he should engage the services of Annie Bissell of Associated Designers. My client had a friend who was an interior designer — and as other parts of the house had to coordinate with the kitchen, Penny Mickum of Penelope Mickum Interiors was also engaged.

What began as a possible “pull and replace” kitchen remodel now had transformed into all rooms on first floor being gutted and refashioned. The project took a bit over one year to complete even though all of us were working at full throttle. At the end of the project, my client noted: “Now I understand why this took longer than I anticipated, and it was all worth it”. He understood planning and making decisions was not something that could be “forced”. The process was not completely linear, but more three dimensional.

Here are some important improvements we made:

1) Kitchen: Completely gutted. We created three focal points in the kitchen:

  1. the Sub Zero “armoire” in Rift Cut White Oak-Java stain,
  2. the Ilve Majestic range with custom metal hood above (the main focal point).
  3. the main sink with floating shelves to match the island and Sub Zero refrigerator/freezer

2) Pantry: This had been a long walk-in pantry. We opened it up completely and created a run of cabinetry that included panel ready Wolf Warming drawer and Sub Zero refrigerator/freezer.

3) Mudroom: We eliminated the very long “coat closet” and designed two tall units at each end, deep enough to hang coats, with a bench underneath above deep drawers

4) Powder Room: Completely gutted and updated with marble backsplash/wall, wallpaper and new fixtures.

What happens when you have the perfect combination of professionals working together on a remodeling project? Superb results that please a very discerning client.