A kitchen remodel in a Maryland home manages to maintain the integrity of the mid-century modern aesthetic while giving the kitchen added functionality, a layout suited for contemporary living, and a fresh new look.
Interview with the kitchen designer: Shawna Dillon of Studio Snaidero DC Metro
What were the main issues of the old kitchen that the client wanted to change?
When this mid-century modern home was built, the trend was for the kitchen to be more like a “service area”, secondary to the public spaces of the house. As a result, the old kitchen felt like an afterthought. Well, things have changed and the client wanted to give the room much more importance and turn it into a true living area.
What were the client’s “musts” for the kitchen remodel and how did you go about fulfilling those wishes?
The client has exquisite taste and a real eye for design. She wanted to restore the home and honor the original mid-century modern details while adding contemporary touches and improving the functionality of the space. There were several items the client had on her list:
1) Adding a kitchen island.
To make room for it, we moved the walls back 2 feet. This greatly improved the function and traffic pattern of the space. The new configuration allows for a gathering space and seating around the island.
2) Avoiding a cabinet-heavy look.
To this end, we opted for a very modern trend in kitchen design, replacing most of the upper cabinets with open shelves.
3) Maintaining the mid-century palette of the old kitchen and creating a “nature feel” that would go with the open treehouse look of the house.
For the cabinets we chose the Snaidero CODE door style in Arctic White Glossy Laminate and Cinnamon Walnut Matte Wood. The white of the cabinetry, paired with the white Caesarstone and glass backsplash, lightens things up to contrast the dark expanse of mahogany wood on the ceiling. The reflective high gloss and glass surfaces help expand the limits of the room, reflecting the beautiful outdoors back into the interior space. The walnut accent cabinetry keeps the room from feeling too sterile and is a nod to the original mid-century casework.
4) Adding a dry bar to the living and dining area without blocking the windows or interfering with the view beyond.
To accomplish this, we designed a dry bar concealed as a walnut credenza off the dining room. This piece houses the client’s formal china and crystal as well as a 24” wine storage unit. We went with a model that looks like furniture and doesn’t distract from the treehouse views.
5) Replacing the original hood – a huge professional style double vent that was quite a heavy eyesore and a mismatch with the open and airy design of the house (you could see the steel chimneys raising up to the ceiling from every corner).
We replaced it with the BEST Cirrus ceiling mounted hood and the client’s builder did an amazing job repairing the beautiful ceiling, removing all traces of the old hood.
What was the main challenge of the kitchen remodel and how did you solve it?
All of the interior and exterior walls only go up to just below 7' and then there is glass extended up another 3' to the mahogany ceiling. This means you can stand in the bedroom on one end of the house and see the beautiful wood ceiling clear through to the other side of the house.
It was a challenge to maintain an 82" height on the cabinets, especially considering that the refrigerator was 84" tall. The original cabinet layout had the refrigerator extend 2" above the adjacent cabinetry. For the remodel, we brought the top of the cabinets up, in front of the glass frame, which gave us the extra 2" we needed without blocking the glass.
What made Snaidero CODE the perfect cabinetry choice for the project?
This mid-century modern home, designed by architect Ulrich Franzen, is located in a secluded wooded area on private Gibson Island in Maryland. It is one of the only contemporary houses on the island, certainly the only one of its kind. The eco-friendly CODE, with its simple and clean lines, worked well with the modern, open, treehouse-like aesthetic of the home.
As a designer, what is your favorite part about this kitchen and why?
I’m in love with how everything came together as a whole on this project. Nothing stands out to demand your attention, or interrupt how you view the space and the surrounding landscape. It is all very cohesive, as if it was placed there by nature. That is a testament to the client, who envisioned a kitchen remodel that would honor the mid-century modern aesthetic so sincerely.
- Cabinetry: Snaidero CODE in Arctic White High Gloss and Cinnamon Walnut Matte Wood
- Backsplashes: Back-painted glass
- Countertops: Caesarstone, Pure White
- Dishwasher: Miele 60cm Diamond Fully Integrated
- Hood: BEST Cirrus Ceiling Mount
- Cooktop: Miele 42” Gas
- Ovens: Miele 60cm Convection
- Steam Oven: Miele 60cm CombiSteam
- Microwave Oven: Miele 60cm
- Refrigerator/Freezer: Sub Zero 550 in stainless steel (from the previous remodel in the early 80’s!)
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