From Online Remodeling Book Chapter 11: “A Modern Kitchen on Capitol Hill”
A refrigerator by the back door,
cheap flooring, dark false ceiling
beams, dated materials, and
undersized cabinets were some of
the issues in the existing kitchen.
One recent remodel in Capitol Hill turned out to be, quite literally, close to home—or at least, a former home. I had once lived right around the corner, on another side of the same block. I walked my dog for years past this very house, then owned by a friend of the current owner, automatically noting the exterior details as I strolled by. The house, I knew, was a brick Queen Anne design, a classic style for the neighborhood. Meeting the client at her home (as with many couples, I worked primarily with one spouse), I learned more about what set this Capitol Hill project apart.
The homeowner told me that her career took her overseas so often that she had learned to “plan for impermanence.” The house was a case in point. She had bought it from her friend a decade earlier, but had only lived in it once for nine or ten months between assignments, renting it the rest of the time. She and her husband, who was about to retire, looked forward to living there, and to the alterations that would make it a more pleasant home. But with her chosen career, nothing was certain, something that the project needed to respect. She emphasized, for example, that the new kitchen should include neutral, natural earth tones, ensuring that the house would be suitable to sell, or perhaps to rent to more upscale tenants, should the need arise.
The new open and
modern kitchen design
In addition to improving the worn-out kitchen, her main goal was to open up its connection to the dining room, creating a sense of flow from the front to the back of the house. She also wanted the kitchen to take better advantage of the view of the back garden, which was being redone after high winds split a big tree. She was looking for understated, low-key elegance, “smart casual” arrangements suitable for informal entertaining.
She loved the heart pine floors and the original banister of the living room stairway, and she wanted the new kitchen to work with these and other elements of the historic interior. As we talked in detail, I learned of some other requirements. Besides feeling lighter and more modern, the new kitchen needed to provide space for laptops, cell phone chargers and the mail. It also needed to be a friendly space, with room for the couple to enjoy breakfast or morning coffee.