Your kitchen is the workhorse of your home. It’s where you prepare meals, where family and friends gather for dinner parties or the holidays, where you sneak a late-night treat. It needs to be functional but also a reflection of your personal style—and the four shown here do exactly that. One is a design-driven renovation of a kitchen in a late-19th-century home, and another is a playful addition for a young family. There’s a breezy, modern escape, and a neutral place that provides a sense of calm amid an active lifestyle. They’re different, yes, but they have one thing in common—they’re each beloved in their own way.
Efficiency, storage and something new—those were crucial elements when it came to redesigning Bridget and Mike Morris’ kitchen. The couple purchased their 1920s-era Friendship Heights home in 2005 from Bridget’s parents, who had raised her there. The Morrises, in turn, raised their four now-grown children in the home, mixing old memories with new ones.
“It’s an old home, and we wanted to honor the house,” Bridget says of the renovation, which began in 2020 amid the pandemic. “While my kids have moved on, I love to cook and entertain. We have a large family, and friends in the area, so we host a lot.” She wanted a space with a more modern aesthetic but plenty of efficiency and usability—objectives that were accomplished thanks to interior designer Melissa Cooley of Case Architects & Remodelers, which is headquartered in Bethesda.
A prime example is what Bridget calls “appliance cubbies”—aka counter wall cabinets—which were installed for the toaster and coffee maker. Pullout drawers for pots and pans, a utility cabinet for the brooms, and a cabinet divider for trays also ensured a clutter-free space.
“After raising my kids, I didn’t want to see anything on my counters,” Bridget says. The refrigerator is hidden, too—its panels blend in with the white cabinetry.
The crisp lines are complemented by warm wood tones in the flooring and in the existing reclaimed wood ceilings, which were originally installed by Bridget’s father—and also in the driftwood-stained range hood by Crystal Cabinet Works that was brought in for “visual interest,” Cooley says.
The gold-and-marble backsplash is a textural counterpoint to the smooth hood. Sutton Place champagne-finish cabinet pulls by Atlas Homewares and a gleaming gold light fixture that presides over the peninsula add to the quiet sophistication.
The green hue of the high-top bar chairs was a happy accident, Bridget recalls. “We got rid of all our old furniture, and one thing I didn’t anticipate is once your project is done, you need furniture. That wasn’t the brightest move on my part.” She purchased the chairs on a whim online, thinking they were gray. But when they turned out to be green, their elegant pop of color lent a cool, beachy vibe to the kitchen.
Says Bridget: “I feel like I’m on vacation every day in this beautiful space.”
Pop of color
When Becky Feinberg, 45, moved into a home in Bethesda’s Wyngate neighborhood in 2017, she knew she wanted to make some changes in the future. Built in 1952, the colonial had three bedrooms, one bath and a minuscule kitchen. It was fitting for her family back then—Feinberg would soon give birth to her first child—but when she got pregnant with her second in 2019, she knew it was time for her and her two kids to make the space truly their own.
Feinberg enlisted the help of Michael Rouse, principal architect of D.C.-based MPR Architecture, and Michael Thiede of Bethesda Contracting to help bring her vision to life via a two-story addition totaling about 1,000 square feet. A key component of the project was the new colorful, comfortable kitchen flowing into the family room. For her, it all began with the tile. “I wanted it to be the focal point,” Feinberg says. She was drawn to the dark blue, light blue and orange hues—the latter is one of her favorite colors—of the handmade zellige tiles that she found online at Mosaic House, a design store in New York City. (The tiles are crafted in Fez, Morocco.) “There are dozens of geometric patterns and colors of tiles, and you just mix and match whatever you want,” she says. That resulted in her custom stove backsplash, set off by teal subway tile.
“A lot of modern [designs] nowadays tend to be more stark with the materials; the artwork provides the accent colors,” Thiede says. “But this is the opposite: The materials of the project are the showpieces. People shouldn’t be afraid to bring materials and colors in if it’s done tastefully.”
The design team pulled in lots of neutrals—dark quartz countertops, modern satin nickel pendants, whitewashed oak cabinets, floating shelves—to counter the brighter shades. “Mike [Rouse] had to remind me that everything in the room can’t be screaming,” Feinberg says with a laugh.
The circular hood was selected to soften the harder edges in the kitchen and to let the tile shine through.
A must-have? The island. “I wanted an eat-in, and the island accomplished that,” Feinberg says. “We have almost all of our meals there.”
Plenty of light was also key (Rouse remained true to the body of the home by using more traditional window elements), as was the screened porch that was added off the side of the kitchen. A pass-through window to the porch allows Feinberg to serve her kids outside. It’s a clever touch that speaks to the playful, family-friendly design of the space. “We spend 98% of our time here,” Feinberg says. “It’s so easy to use.”
As for the former kitchen? It’s now the powder room.
Barbara Winnik knew her home was a gem long before she moved in. She lived around the corner from the circa-1892 abode—one of the first homes built in Chevy Chase Village—for 11 years before making it her own in 1994.
“I love this home,” says Winnik, who enjoys entertaining and cooking. The kitchen was in good shape when Winnik moved in—it had been refinished in the late ’80s—and she later added her own touch with a black-and-white-checked floor. That floor, which got old and began cracking, was what jarred her into kicking off her recent renovation.
“It was like, Wait, what? My kitchen isn’t nice and new?” she recalls thinking. So in 2020, Winnik tapped Matt Covell, founder of North Bethesda-based Structure, and Chevy Chase-based interior designer Gerald Smith to bring the kitchen into the 21st century, while also staying true to the historic character of the home.
The goal of the project, which also included transforming a porch behind the kitchen into a new sitting room and mudroom (and renovating the powder room), was to create a practical but statement-making place where Winnik could host gatherings for her friends and family. A few walls were removed to update the floor plan, and design-forward elements were brought in. Among them was a large custom hood that Winnik initially wanted in white; Smith convinced her to go with rolled steel. It turned out to be the perfect match for her BlueStar range, which she loves using to prepare meals. It’s a “thrill,” she says, to cook in the new space.
The monochromatic scheme continues throughout, with white Wood-Mode cabinetry, quartz countertops and a quartzite oven backsplash.
A pièce de résistance is the custom island. It boasts a curved, built-in, two-person banquette, upholstered in a gray-and-reddish-orange pattern for color and softness. Three midcentury elongated bubble pendants from Design Within Reach hang over the island. “They take the kitchen to another level,” Winnik says. “They’re simple but design-driven.”
Apart from the visual impact, the kitchen is highly functional. “[The counters are] very easy to clean up,” Winnik says. “I’m probably a messy cook, but you can’t tell because there are so many places to put things away.”
A coffee bar includes a drawer stocked with Keurig pods, plus refrigerator and freezer drawers for java accoutrements.
The renovation also included the addition of a lovely bay window over one sink. And in a nod to the home’s history, one of the original stained-glass doors was retrofitted for the pantry—a modern classic, indeed.
For Adam and Amy Eisner, updating their kitchen was largely about simplicity and maintaining order amid their busy day-to-day existence.
“Our lives are chaotic,” says Amy, the mother of three teenagers. “There’s always sports equipment and things everywhere. So I wanted the kitchen to be fairly neutral.”
The couple, now in their mid-40s, purchased their home in the Bradley Park neighborhood of Bethesda as a spec house in 2008; while they had no input on the customization, it fit their needs at the time. But as their children got older and their lifestyle changed, they wanted to make it more reflective of their family dynamic and of their personal flair—contemporary, light and airy.
“We wanted it to be soft and minimal, and avoid anything that felt overdone,” says Bethesda-based interior designer Julie Geyer, who notes that the former kitchen had a darker design aesthetic.
Rather than completely overhaul the kitchen, many of the original elements were retained and updated. The wood cabinetry was in good condition, so a fresh coat of white paint, as well as some detail changes (think cleaner lines and updated hardware) from Mark Amero of Kensington-based Ovation Renovations gave it a modern boost.
The red-oak floors, formerly stained orange, were sanded and re-stained and are now a deep brown.
The country vibe of the eat-in island had to go. “That was not our style at all,” Amy says. Geyer worked with Amero to flatten out the island’s edges and make it more streamlined; a quartz countertop and dove-gray paint finished that transformation. And while the original appliances remained, the walls were updated with sleek white subway tiles to add brightness and light, further assisted by circular pendants and sconces in polished nickel and black tones.
To offset what Geyer calls the more “sterile” vibe, she wanted a warm color for the dining set. So she sourced a table with a wood herringbone top and an iron base from Moe’s Home Collection and teamed it with leather West Elm chairs.
The overall effect is minimal but lived-in—a welcoming, usable space for entertaining that the Eisners adore. “We have the great feeling of something new that we were able to design for ourselves,” Adam says, “but it is also familiar to us.”
Kristen Schott is the editor of Philadelphia Wedding magazine and a freelance writer living in Alexandria, Virginia. A native of Orange County, California, Schott is an avid runner and wine enthusiast.
This story appears in the September/October 2022 issue of Bethesda Magazine.