Even as the DC restaurant scene booms, the kitchen is still the most important room in Washington homes.
Marika Meyer of Marika Meyer Interiors and Nadia Subaran of Aidan Design collaborated on this upgraded kitchen, which features monochromatic white cabinets, walls, and backsplash, as well as an adjacent workstation.
Despite the fact that Washingtonians are dining out more than ever, local architects, designers, and real estate experts report that the kitchen is still the most important room in the house. As a result, more renovation energy and funds are poured into it than any other space. Using top-of-the-line appliances and high-end materials, the owners of today’s luxury homes are prioritizing functionality with a sleek, modern aesthetic.
“DC used to be a conservative and traditional market, but in recent years home buyers or renovators have wanted more modern and European looks—sleek, simple, but elegant,” says Mert Bakan, founder and president of Stona (3210 Grace St. NW, 202-885-9933), noting that white, gray, and dark chocolate palettes are most popular.
A white kitchen with warm wood accents by Marika Meyer Interiors, GTM Architects, and Ventura Group.
A clean, perhaps even monochromatic aesthetic, Bakan adds, is imperative for a luxe look: “When it comes to high-end kitchens, everything should blend in… flooring, appliances, fixtures, lighting.”
“White, white, white” is still the (non-) color of choice, according to Lisa Magee, director of project development at Case Design/Remodeling (4701 Sangamore Road, North Plaza Ste. 40, Bethesda, 202-556-2273), but now in updated materials, such as “painted and high-gloss white cabinets; white quartz, marble, and quartzite; and more white backsplashes than ever before.”
Julia Walter, showroom manager at Boffi Georgetown (Cady’s Alley, 3320 M St. NW, 202-337-7700), says the most sought-after items right now range from metallic lacquers and aluminum cabinet fronts to natural stone countertops in dark, warm palettes and wood with special effects.
“New thermofoil color cabinetry, and the ability to take a stained wood cabinet and integrate it with a color, transforms a space into a new, modern gem,” adds Bruce Wentworth of Wentworth Inc. (8555 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, 240-383-1227).
“The kitchen has become more than a place to cook. It’s become a multiuse space with dining areas.”—David Benton
Beyond aesthetics, the American Institute of Architects’ 2014 Home Design Trends Survey, released in April, reports that last year’s kitchen design and renovation focused less on cooking convenience and more on making the space ideal for gathering, entertaining, and daily activities—and that trend is evident locally.
“Function is priority,” says David Benton, a designer with RA Spaces and an architect at Rill Architects (4833 Rugby Ave., Bethesda, 240-479- 7047). “Clients are really thinking about how they use their kitchen. It’s become more than a place to cook. It’s become a multiuse space with dining areas.”
One feature that Washingtonians request to make their kitchens more versatile is a “command center”—an electronic working/charging station. Nationally, 50 percent of Trends Survey respondents reported an increase in command centers in 2014, compared to just 37 percent the previous year. Requests for dual islands, another amenity of flexibility, increased by 6 percent last year, and they’re popping up in local homes.
A modern rendition with open display storage by Bruce Wentworth of Wentworth Inc.
“[These] allow two cooks to be working without crowding each other, guests to mingle around one island while the host is working at the other island, or a child to do homework while the parent prepares a meal,” says Jaime Mazerski, a dream-kitchen consultant with Fretz (9204 Berger Road, Columbia, 866-987-2123). Today’s version of the island, she adds, often includes a beverage center close to the family area, alleviating the need for family members to walk to and from the refrigerator—saving energy to boot.
Modern storage has also become important. Open shelving as opposed to cabinets, for example, gives the kitchen a much more airy feel, with room for display, says Wentworth. Benton agrees. “Kitchens are looking less kitcheny and utilitarian,” he says, “and more like furniture.”
Today’s consumers are more educated than ever about design and renovation processes and materials. Websites like Houzz and Pinterest not only give them ideas for customizing each element of their homes; they also provide avenues for research, allowing homeowners to go full speed ahead into any project. “People are looking for faster results,” says Magee. “Usually when clients call me for the first time, they want their new kitchen done yesterday. With the real estate market booming like it is, people want to invest in their homes, [and] the kitchen is the most rewarding place to invest.”