A Run-Down Row House Kitchen Is Transformed into a Sophisticated Place to Gather
WRITTEN BY BLAKE MILLER PHOTOGRAPHY BY STACY ZARIN GOLDBERG PHOTOGRAPHY
When designer Breeze Giannasio first saw her clients’ row house located in Washington DC’s hip Dupont Circle neighborhood, she knew she had a challenge on her hands. Though the home had fantastic bones and boasted historic architectural details common in a classic Federal row house, it was run-down and in need of some serious upgrading and renovations. Luckily, though, Giannasio was willing to take on the project and help the couple—who, at the time, had just become new parents—transform the dated house into an open and seamless floor plan that was ideal for a fun, growing family.
Originally two separate rooms, the kitchen was opened up into one room, and the existing fireplace was transformed into a bay window allowing for natural light to brighten the entire space. Though the narrow, long shape of the kitchen may have posed a challenge to some designers, Giannasio embraced it. “Architectural constraints are gifts to designers in that they create the parameters that create design solutions and opportunities,” says Giannasio. “Design doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it solves problems. Here the layout is fundamentally linked to the unique volume of the space: the long, narrow room with lovely, high ceilings.”
Make the Most of It
- Use Every Inch
- “Take advantage of any recessed areas, which can offer a wealth of space in situations where every inch matters! In this kitchen design, there is recessed spice storage behind the stove (behind sliding stone doors) as well as a recessed area built out for a TV near the kitchen nook, but styled here with accessories. Live large and carry your cabinets all the way to the ceiling—you’ll appreciate the storage and the visual drama!”
- Amplify Seating
- “Seating can also be incorporated into circulation areas—we have great bar seating on a long central island along the main circulation back to the eating nook. A banquette (built-in or freestanding as here) is a nice way to economize the footprint of your eating area given that it can back up against the wall leaving more square footage for the accompanying dining table and chairs.”
- Maintain Continuity
- “Having continuous flooring from space to space makes things feel larger. Here the flooring connects from the formal living room and flows directly into the kitchen through two large, historic pocket doors.”
Ample seating was paramount to the homeowners, who wanted the downstairs of the home to exude a more sophisticated aesthetic while the upstairs was denoted as the much more relaxed and casual “kid zone.” To achieve a more formal dining room, Giannasio created an elegant dining area in what would normally be reserved as a casual breakfast nook. In lieu of expected chairs, Giannasio installed a tufted, lavender banquette, which immediately elevated the space. Adjacent chairs upholstered in a sleek geometric pattern complement the modern crystal ball chandelier that serves a twofold purpose of providing functional light and acting as a piece of artwork.
The approximately 300-square-foot space was limited in natural light due to the lack of windows on two sides of the room (typical of row houses). “Light is perhaps the most important facet of successful interior design,” explains Giannasio. “Placement of the kitchen was linked to being on the hunt for natural light. We brought in ample recessed lighting to make sure the space was light and bright. The decorative pendants and chandelier are on a separate circuit so mood lighting is possible in the evening hours.” Beyond that, a color palette of neutral grays, white cabinetry, and a sleek, white cowhide at the opposite end of the kitchen helped brighten what could easily have become a dark space. “I tend to gravitate toward immersive grays with handsome, high-contrast architectural ‘pops’ and a bit of play with color and pattern,” says Giannasio. “All of those elements happened to be a part of this space.” To take advantage of the kitchen’s ceiling height, Giannasio added floor-to-ceiling cabinets and grand windows and doors, which immediately opened up the space.
The final product was exactly what the homeowners wanted in a place they knew they’d spend much of their time in as a family. “While it remains family friendly and extremely functional,” says Giannasio, “I love the fact that we were able to achieve such a sophisticated and tailored look to suit the couple’s pre-child aesthetic.”