At first, Kirsten Kaplan’s clients just wanted to remodel their outdated kitchen, she says, recalling what sparked the complete overhaul of this five-bedroom, 6,847-square-foot Fairfax home. “But when they realized that the open-plan first floor meant the kitchen design would be a very visible and beautiful feature of their home,” says the design professional, “they decided to broaden their scope and to ask for our help”.
Kaplan of Haus Interior Design became involved in the project in April 2020, along with Dynamic Renovation Contractors and Larry Rosen of Jack Rosen Custom Kitchens. Rosen’s job was made for him: the previous kitchen had stained cherry cabinets, dark granite countertops and a strange double island (two counters at different heights, the lower one containing the stove) taking up much of the formerly tiled footprint of the kitchen.
“There were also large cabinets at the entrances to the ‘room,’ which gave a closed appearance,” Rosen adds.
The homeowners, who are empty nests, were looking for a kitchen where they could comfortably entertain their children, grandchildren and friends, and the design team gave them just that. The new space features white painted cabinetry, a large center island with a stained wood base and countertop sink, and a custom range hood for the new range, which has been relocated to a boundary wall.
“The sculpted island detail provides the perfect response to the swooping hood,” Rosen says of the craftsmanship. “Kirsten’s selection of hanging pendants gives the island its sense of space.”
The first level flooring has been unified by removing the kitchen tile and replacing it with the same rich stained oak used elsewhere in the open floor plan.
Next to the kitchen is a hexagonal veranda and a large recessed room with high cathedral ceilings. The kitchen dining area acts as a bridge to the two spaces. The front of the house has a formal living room and dining room which are open to each other through cased openings, and the dining room is visible through the kitchen.
Decor previously had a red and gold palette, traditional furnishings, minimal architectural details, and ornate window treatments.
“Our clients decided that 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 piece,” Kaplan explains. “The day we took down the overworked window treatments was one of the best days on site!”
Taking inspiration from the kitchen’s high-contrast palette (white cabinetry paired with darker elements, such as the stained wood island base and black metal lanterns), Kaplan formulated a neutral palette of taupes, of grays and creams, punctuated by darker accents. . For customers who prefer neutral decor, Kaplan says, “It has power and will never go out of style. I also find that the larger the project, the more comfortable clients feel with neutrals that unify all spaces, while providing a common backdrop for rich textures, art, and lighting.
For example, in the formal living room, two Chesterfield sofas upholstered in silver gray velvet chenille with nailhead trim are paired with dark taupe leather armchairs, all set around a hexagonal shaped wooden cocktail table. The cocktail table plays on the shape of the veranda for continuity of pattern and geometry.
“Before our involvement, the lanai was barely used and served as random storage space, despite its lovely backyard views and abundant natural light,” Kaplan says. “We decided to highlight the room by adding a bespoke ceiling beam design, placing a pendant in its center and arranging the furniture plan [around] this. This dramatic transformation brought the room back to life and made it a special place to enjoy the sunlight and morning coffee.
Because the owners have grandchildren, the upholstery fabrics are not only chic, clean-lined and transitional in style, but also durable and hard-wearing to age well.
“One of our challenges was to make the large, two-story room feel more scale and intimate,” Kaplan says. “We achieved this by adding classic box molding throughout, a limestone fireplace and appropriately sized furniture to fill the expansive 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 itself, and because it’s used for special family occasions, Kaplan has made bolder choices, like wrapping its walls in a moodier neutral wallcovering enlivened by a diamond pattern. This motif is also repeated in the X trim of the custom glass-fronted dresser and the subtle wood inlay of the dining table. But the star here is the gorgeous bird-patterned textile on the backs of the dining chairs, giving the room a neutral flight and making it anything but boring.
“Once we decided to emphasize the corners of the house and add reinforced molding to the ceiling and walls, we subtly transposed these shapes into the overall décor,” Kaplan explains. “Almost every room contains furniture and fabrics with obvious geometric references to architecture.”
For example, the grid pattern on the dining room chairs references the wall moldings added to the adjacent family room. It’s subtle, but it’s there, creating a home that sings with neutral continuity with points of interest at every turn.
This story originally appeared in our May issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.