Urban Chic Condo in DC Gets a New Kitchen
Wenworth creates a kitchen design for a couple in Washington DC’s Penn Quarter neighborhood who were looking to downsize.
After living in an older, suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland home for quite some time, this boomer couple was ready to downsize but wanted to do so glamorously. They moved into an upscale condo in the former Hecht’s building at E Street in Northwest DC.
The couple’s unit consists of two floors with a steel and glass stairway leading to the master suite on the second level. The apartment has ample sunlight from east- and south-facing 9-foot-tall windows and a double height living-dining-kitchen space that creates a great room with high ceilings. The kitchen originally consisted of an 8-foot-long run of cabinets with an adjacent 3-foot-wide refrigerator alcove and 7-foot island.
The Kitchen Reimagined
We often see new condos with inexpensive, poorly-planned small kitchens (as was the case with this space), with the thought that condo buyers don’t cook. But many times the opposite is true and newly-built condos need kitchen remodels within the first few years. Furthermore, the couple’s taste in contemporary art was a good indicator of their design preferences and their desire to bring the kitchen up to their high standards.
When the Wentworth team met with the couple for the first time, it was clear the builder-grade cabinets, countertops, and finishes did not fit the spectacular space they had purchased, nor were they happy with the design of the kitchen, aesthetically or functionally. It didn’t take advantage of the high ceilings or the large space and lacked “wow” factors. In short, the kitchen needed design expertise and a total overhaul.
New Kitchen Requirements
To begin, Wentworth developed a design that connected the kitchen with the great room; previously the two rooms felt disjointed. Secondly, since the owners enjoyed preparing meals at home, baking, and entertaining, they requested more:
- Counter space
To accommodate the storage needs, Wentworth explored void spaces around existing columns, bulkheads, and walls and uncovered space inches horizontally and vertically. We also looked at how to use existing space wisely to create the storage the owners wanted and needed, including a place for countertop appliances.
Additional upgrades were needed for the builder-grade appliances, the small and shallow kitchen sink, the unattractive microwave-range hood combo above the range, an ill-fitted refrigerator that stuck out from the wall, and the lack of wall cabinets above the sink that created an odd cabinet layout.
Smart Design Solutions
In terms of the kitchen’s floor plan, we decided on a U-shaped design with expanded cabinet and countertop space, which takes the kitchen from 18 lineal feet to 26 lineal feet. In addition, the kitchen grew vertically, which expanded storage—always helpful in a condo!
Because the kitchen was open to the great room, the Wentworth design team wanted to visually anchor its end of the room and call attention to the unique 16-foot ceiling height. The designers created a recessed niche framed with the same dark-stained cherry wood of the cabinets and a height of 12 feet that aligns with the top of the adjacent windows. The sink base, other base cabinets, oven, and cooktop with Zephyr range hood were placed within the niche. The remaining exposed wall surface was clad in 4 x 12 inch glass subway tile, while stacking cabinets—for storage and aesthetic reasons—created a 12-foot-tall assemblage that fits the niche. The altar-like collection provides a visually pleasing and functional focal point.
Adjacent to the main cabinet area is a second recessed, 12-foot-tall niche with a counter-depth refrigerator and a storage cabinet for trays and platters above. Fixed-cabinet panels, resembling a cabinet, continue the vertical unit all the way up.
Two cabinets below the window, which hold placemats, napkins, table clothes, and other linens, comprise the remaining portion of the U-shaped plan. The 10-foot peninsula with a Silestone composite quartz countertop is fitted with:
- A microwave drawer
- A pull-out trash
- Base cabinets with roll-out shelving for storing heavy countertop appliances and pots/pans
The design team found additional space in an existing concrete column adjacent to the kitchen to carve out vertical storage for pantry-type products and spice bottles. Custom pivot-hinge painted doors make storage unobtrusive in the painted drywall wrapping the column.
For wine bottle and broom storage, our design-build team created a custom fit-out for half of an existing 6-foot-long foyer closet. Within the modified space, a vertical, wood wine rack unit was built to house 32 bottles of wine. Two panel doors that conceal a combo pantry with roll-out shelves and tall vertical broom/mop storage are adjacent to this, all cleverly concealed behind flush pivot-hinge doors.
What was once a cramped, poorly laid out kitchen now fits the condo owners’ urban modern lifestyle and design preferences, seamlessly complementing their open, spacious, chic home. View more photos of the remodel and contact Wentworth if you’re ready to remodel your Washington, DC area home!