A designer helps a couple update the kitchen with an efficient layout and custom details like a walnut-topped peninsula
Bryan and Heather Kurey looked at their dysfunctional kitchen and considered moving into a new home. The aging oak cabinets, oversize breakfast area and lack of countertops didn’t create a welcoming space for a couple who love to cook. But they soon realized that most of the homes they considered buying also had kitchens that needed updating. The couple looked at photos on Houzz and other sources and became inspired to remodel what they had.
They hired designer Lisa Quina, who had helped them renovate other areas of the late-1930s home in Arlington, Virginia. Quina relocated appliances, added windows, enlarged an opening to the family room, improved storage and used local artisans for custom details that add character. Now the family enjoys a brighter kitchen that combines classic, industrial and modern design elements to better reflect its style and love of cooking.
Before: This view of the former kitchen shows the tight layout, basic oak cabinets and limited countertops, as evident next to the sink shown here. Previous homeowners installed the blue-brown tile, resulting in an uneven floor. A freestanding wood table provided some extra work
There was also an oversize breakfast area (see “before” floor plans below) that took up valuable floor and wall space that could be better used for storage and expanding the layout of appliances. The door seen in this photo leads down to the basement.
After: This shot was taken from about the same angle as the previous photo. The refrigerator and tall cabinets occupy the place that once contained the sink and dishwasher.
Quina expanded the size of the opening to the family room on the right for better flow between spaces, and she relocated the sink and range to the same wall on the left, where a door to the backyard once stood.
Off-white walls with beige undertones (Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams), crisp white trim (Extra White by Sherwin-Williams) and pure white Shaker-style cabinets (Simply White by Benjamin Moore) create a bright and open feel. A new walnut peninsula and walnut floating shelves provide a dose of warmth. “Because we were going away from oak cabinets, we never considered going with a wood finish for the cabinetry,” Quina says. “But the clients also didn’t want the kitchen to be all white, so that’s why we brought in wood accents.”
Dark gray 12-by-24-inch porcelain floor tiles replaced the former blue-brown tile. “I think what we like most is the color contrast it provides with the white on the cabinets and walls,” Bryan says.
The open doorway to the left of the fridge leads to the dining room.
Quina added the ceiling beam to the left of the range to mirror the existing beam on the right. “We considered getting rid of the existing beam entirely but instead decided to add the one on the left to frame where the range was going to land so it would look like it had always been there,” she says.
Quina also added the window to the right of the range to match the existing window of the same size to the left. “The range needed to be centered to create symmetry, and we didn’t want to condense all the appliances there,” Quina says.
Glossy, crackled blue-green scallop tiles create a statement backsplash behind the BlueStar range. “With the linear nature of this house, we needed tiles with movement,” Quina says. The custom range hood is black steel, which complements the matte black cabinet hardware.
The long non-operable window features a deep metal sill. “This window was a way to add light in a modern and fresh way,” Quina says. “It creates a wonderful focal point.” (Since this photo was taken, Bryan and Heather added a red maple tree outside the window for privacy.)
The custom walnut floating shelves were made from wood salvaged from a local boat. Durable gray quartz countertops add contrast to the cabinets and complement the dark gray porcelain floor tiles. “We do a lot of batch cooking on the weekends, so having that long countertop makes things much easier,” Bryan says.