A dramatic “kitchen-centric” first floor interior design solution in a 30-year-old Colonial-style production house will be featured on a “Remodeled Home Tour” sponsored by Sun Design Remodeling on Saturday, March 12.
The house at 7990 Oak Bridge Lane in Fairfax Station is owned by Andrew Smith and Madelynne McCarthy. The residence will be opened to the public from noon-4 p.m.
Purchased by Smith and McCarthy in 2002, the original house was a traditional center hall Colonial with four bedrooms. The couple, now in their late 50s, have occupied the home for 14 years.
While the 4,000-square-foot house (the couple's second) has been satisfactory to the owners in many respects, the first floor's comparatively small rooms, narrow doorways and builder-grade finishes had come to seem dated and cramped as the couple looked ahead to retirement years.
“We wanted our house to be more of personal residence that reflects our tastes,” Andy Smith said. “A place we can really enjoy for another 10 years, or more.”
As longer occupancy became a consideration, the production house limitations seemed glaring.
“The kitchen was space-constricted and pretty drab,” Smith said. “There was a small island with a cooktop that didn't provide a useful working surface. Doors to the hall closet and powder room frequently obstructed traffic at the kitchen archway, which was too narrow. The kitchen clean-up area was too exposed from the family room. Overall, we wanted a more balanced, aesthetically-pleasing interior.”
An addition off the back of house was an earlier space-enhancement consideration.
“We had plans to remove the rear wall and add 800 square feet,” Smith said, “but when we looked more closely at our real requirements this approach didn't make economic sense. Fundamentally, we just wanted a larger kitchen and pantry, and a warmer interior that would work well for entertaining; we weren't sure how to accomplish this.”
A seminar by Sun Design Remodeling last year unveiled to a new way of assessing priorities.
“The program prompted us to explore ideas of re-purposing space within the home's existing footprint,” Smith said. “I suddenly recognized we were getting almost no use from our 200-square-foot formal living room. It was just wasted space.”
Soon after the seminar, the couple contacted Craig Durosko at Sun Design Remodeling for an on-premise meeting.
“A center hall Colonial has long been one of the most popular floor plans in northern Virginia” said Craig Durosko, Sun Design's founder and chairman. “The way people now use their homes, however, has changed dramatically in the past few decades. There's a movement towards open, well-defined, interactive spaces, and departure from interior walls that may not be strictly necessary.”
Durosko sees his role as one of helping owners develop a plan tailored to how they want to use their home in the foreseeable future — one that will also present an appropriate interior design solution.
Once Smith and McCarthy established that the front-facing living room could be incorporated into a broader floor plan reconfiguration, Sun Design's team began re-assigning “use zones” within the existing first floor template.
Several critical decisions followed in rapid succession:
The wall between the kitchen and the dining room would be removed, extending the kitchen by 78 square feet while allowing generous square footage for a walk-in pantry and a new powder room;
The hall powder room would give way to an enlarged and upgraded laundry room/ mudroom linked to the garage and only accessible from inside the kitchen;
All 200 square feet of the old living room would be re-purposed as a distinctively finished formal dining room accessed directly from the new kitchen;
With the cluster of doors between the foyer and the kitchen relocated or replaced with pocket doors, front-to-back access from the foyer is now unencumbered and free flowing, an effect aided by improved sightlines.
Simultaneously, a series of interior design conferences evolved into an inspired collaboration.
“In a finish work elaboration, the details are everything,” Smith said, noting that his enthusiasm for design extends from a lifelong interest in architecture. “Maddie and I had done a lot of research into the kinds of materials, colors and textures we wanted, but Katie Coram at Sun Design really helped us narrow and refine our choices, assembling the pieces into a coherent whole.”
Some highlights of the makeover's interior design solution include:
A custom-designed barn door between the kitchen and the new dining room. While the interior makeover generally explores rustic, early American sensibilities, a glass-and-wood barn door created to specification by Sun Design carpenters is an iconic stand-out that keeps the dining room private as needed while allowing light from the west-facing rear windows;
A dining counter/wine bar situated at the back door accessing the deck. Equipped with a wine rack and wine refrigerator for easy access to the rear deck, the wine bar also obstructs sightlines from the family room to the kitchen sink, making the fireside space a visually-independent entertainment zone.
A food prep island and dining counter. Topped with blue flower granite and equipped with an under-cabinet microwave and a warming drawer, the built-in is positioned for easy access to a circumscribing U-shaped counter completing useful work triangles in several directions.
Six burner gas stove with hood. Designed in black mocha glazed wood, the distressed facing picks up several of the kitchen's rustic themes, including the exposed brick, and flagstone-accented tile flooring which conceals a radiant heating system.
Dining room with coffered ceiling; Wedgwood interior design. In a nod to the 18th-century (Colonial era) sensibilities, the new formal dining room's elegant wall elevations include raised panels, crown molding and wainscoting.
“From room to room, the new first floor explores a lot of style elements in well- balanced combinations,” Andy Smith said, “It's a much warmer, more inviting interior. People will enjoy seeing what we've done.”
John Byrd (firstname.lastname@example.org; www.HomeFrontsNews.com) has been writing about home improvement topics for 30 years.