At first, Kirsten Kaplan clients just wanted their old kitchen remodeled, she says, remembering what led to the complete remodel of their five-bedroom, 6,847-square-foot Fairfax home. “But when they realized that an open plan first floor meant that the kitchen design would be a very beautiful and visual feature of their home,” said the professional design designer, “they decided to expand their scope and ask for our help.”
Kaplan of Haus Interior Design participated in the project in April 2020, along with dynamic renovation contractors and Larry Rosen of Jack Rosen Custom Kitchens. Rosen’s work is cut out for him: The former kitchen had cherry-stained cabinets, dark granite counters, and a quaint double island (counters at different heights, the bottom has the range) taking up plenty of tiled kitchen space.
“There were also tall cabinets at the entrances to the ‘room,’ which created a closed look,” adds Rosen.
The homeowners, who are empty settlers, longed for a kitchen where they could comfortably entertain their children, grandchildren and friends, and that’s exactly what the design team gave them. The new space features white-washed cabinetry, a large central island with a stained wood plinth and counter basin, and a custom shade for the new collection, which has been relocated to a perimeter wall.
“The island’s sculpted detailing provides a perfect response to the swoop of the hood,” Rosen says of the craftsmanship. “Kirsten’s choice of hanging pendants gives the island its sense of space.”
Flooring on the first floor was standardized by removing the kitchen floor tiles and replacing them with the same richly stained oak wood used elsewhere on the open floor plan.
Outside the kitchen is a hexagonal sunroom and a large terraced room with soaring cathedral ceilings. The dining area in the kitchen acts as a bridge to both spaces. The front of the house has a formal living room and dining room open to each other through sheathing openings, and the dining room can be seen through the kitchen.
The decor once had a red and gold palette, traditional furnishings, simple architectural details, and ornate window treatments.
“Our clients decided none of their existing furniture could be salvaged to work with the new design aesthetic, and we were tasked with selecting new lighting, furniture, rugs, wall coverings, window treatments and accents for each room,” Kaplan says. “The day we removed the stressful window treatments was one of the best days on the site!”
Taking cues from the kitchen’s high-contrast palette (white cabinets paired with dark elements, like the stained wood island base and black metal lanterns), Kaplan crafted a neutral palette of taupe, gray, and cream, punctuated by darker accents. For clients who prefer neutral décor, Kaplan says, “It has a staying power and will never go out of fashion. I also find that the larger the project, the more comfortable the clients will feel with neutral colors that unify all the spaces, while providing a common backdrop for rich textures, art, and lighting.” “
For example, in the formal living room, two tufted chesterfield sofas in a silver-gray velvet chenille with nail-head trim were paired with dark leather armchairs, all set around a hexagonal wood cocktail table. The cocktail table plays up the shape of the sunroom for continuity of style and geometry.
“Before our engagement, the sunroom was seldom used and was used as a random storage space, despite its beautiful backyard views and abundant natural light,” Kaplan says. “We decided to make the room stand out by adding a custom ceiling beam design, placing a pendant in the center of it, and organizing the furniture scheme [around] He. She. This dramatic transformation brought the room back to life and made it a special place to enjoy morning sunlight and coffee.”
Because homeowners have grandchildren, soft furnishings are not only chic, clean, and transitional style, but they’re also durable and hardwearing to age.
“One of our challenges was making the large two-story room feel more intimate and intimate,” Kaplan says. “We achieved this by adding classic moldings throughout, a limestone fireplace, and appropriately sized furniture to fill the spacious room and make it inviting.”
An oversized double chandelier also lowers the ceiling height and fills the vaulted space.
Meanwhile, the dining room is a gem in its own right, and because it’s used for special family occasions, Kaplan made some bolder choices, like covering its walls with a moody neutral wall covering enlivened with a diamond pattern. This pattern is also repeated in the X-trim on the custom glass-fronted china cabinet and in the delicate wood inlay on the dining table. But the star here is the beautiful bird-patterned fabric on the backs of the dining chairs, which gives the room a complete neutral and makes it boring.
“Once we decided to accentuate the corners of the house and add the reinforced ceiling and wall moldings, we subtly carried these shapes into the overall décor,” Kaplan says. “Almost every room has furnishings and drapery with clear geometric references to the architecture.”
For example, the grid pattern on the dining chairs suggests wall moldings added to the adjacent family room. Subtle, yet present, it creates a home that sings of neutral continuity with points of interest at every turn.
This story originally ran in our May issue. For more stories like these, subscribe to our monthly magazine.