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A Subtly Detailed Kitchen in Stainless and Wood for a DC Artist and Her Family

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A Subtly Detailed Kitchen in Stainless and Wood for a DC Artist and Her Family

March 9, 2018

When artist Roxana Alger Geffen and her family moved into a Victorian-era townhouse in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, DC., the house had an awkward configuration, but they tried to make it work. Specifically, the kitchen and living room were located on the second floor, so although the artist was able to set up her studio space on the entry level, the first floor served mostly as a “pass-through on the way to the heart of the house.”

Tired of living in a house with so much wasted space, Geffen hired architects Catherine and V. W. Fowlkes of Fowlkes Studio to reconfigure the entire house—and finally move the kitchen to the first floor. Doing so, says Catherine Fowlkes, eliminated unused dead zones and “reactivated all the spaces in the house” almost immediately. And though the homeowners wanted a modern kitchen, it needed to complement the house’s Victorian detailing—so Fowlkes designed a space with an “elegant yet hardworking” mix of materials, stainless steel and bleached walnut included.

Photography by Brandon Webster, courtesy of Fowlkes Studio.

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Above: The back wall of the new kitchen extends beyond the room’s original footprint; it’s part of an addition that cantilevers over the townhouse’s side yard. The blue print on the wall is a photograph by the homeowner, and the coral piece is a Joan Miró lithograph.
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Above: The clients wanted to make sure they ended up with no unused space: They did away with a rarely used formal dining room, and placed the dinner table (Mörbylånga from Ikea) in the center of the kitchen instead. French doors at the end of the kitchen open onto a new balcony that leads to a stair to the backyard.
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Above: Fowlkes “softened the walls” with a Venetian plaster finish in a custom putty color, and paired it with honed Caesarstone countertops in Calcatta Nuvo. Both materials wrap inside the windows, “rather than dying into window trim.”
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Above: “We experimented with mixing cabinet materials,” says Fowlkes of the stainless steel and bleached walnut surfaces. The steel was polished, “to give it its softness,” and wrapped around the drawer and cabinet fronts. Cabinet pulls are Workshop Handles in brushed brass from Anthropologie.
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Above: To the left of the range is a small utility closet.
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Above: The clients wanted more storage in their new kitchen than they had previously, so Fowlkes added a full-height wall of storage cabinets. The team was able to reuse several appliances from the previous kitchen, including the dishwasher and fridge. (“You can see we allowed for a taller future fridge by adding a removable panel above,” says the architect.)
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Above: A wine fridge (also salvaged from the original kitchen) is stacked above a new microwave drawer and steel-fronted storage drawer. The door at right leads to a walk-in pantry.

Fowlkes thickened the threshold between the kitchen and the living room next door in order to accommodate a utility closet, pantry, and powder room. They used lower paneling to protect the busy walkway, with room above for hanging artwork.

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Above: In a small nook at the end of the kitchen, Fowlkes installed high shelves to allow for a flexible-use area underneath; it’s sometimes used as a “mom command center” with a desk, and other times as a lounge space with a stuffed chair.
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Above: The new addition has standing seam metal paneling and cantilevers over the side yard. A new balcony and stair allows access between the kitchen and backyard.

Remodeling a kitchen? Start with our Remodeling 101: Kitchens guide to Choosing Countertops, Refrigerators, and Ranges & Ovens. For more cabinetry inspiration across our sites, see:

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