Text by Charlotte Safavi
Interior designer Katy Anderson took one look at her client’s 1990s kitchen and knew exactly what she had to do to transform it into something fresh and lovely while staying on budget.
“The layout worked very well for the space,” Katy says, noting the original kitchen’s U-shaped design, which also featured a center island. “By keeping the existing cabinets and more recently updated appliances, we were able to stay on budget; we could really focus on the decorative side and a handful of practical updates.”
Homeowner Susan Neely, who shares the Chevy Chase, Maryland, home with her two adult children, entrusted Katy with plenty of leeway to exercise her creativity and was also open to pragmatic solutions. “Susan wanted to replace the black granite countertops, but she was concerned about using marble because it’s a softer stone and requires care,” says Katy. “Her daughter, Eve, is also a serious cook and didn’t want to fuss with maintenance.”
The family selected Cambria quartz countertops, which are virtually indestructible, easy to clean, and pleasing to the eye. To complement them, an off-white ceramic faux brick tile was selected for the backsplash, with a crackle finish lending both an Old-World vibe and a cottage-style feel. “Of course, we repainted the cabinets. They were white before but yellowed and dingy,” says Katy. “The new white is a soft one, with a glossy finish to reflect light and brighten the kitchen.”
Katy also incorporated a brass-tone wire-mesh backing to the kitchen’s glass-front cabinets on either side of the new white porcelain sink, and she replaced all the original hardware with a combination of brass knobs and pulls. The brass touches scattered throughout the space tie the existing gold-tone lanterns into the design scheme in a thoughtful manner.
A pop of bold color comes from the kitchen island’s base painted in Farrow & Ball’s Calke Green, and the countertop’s deep, linear overhang provides plenty of dining space. “One of the easiest and biggest changes was taking the old balloon shades off the windows and adding crisp Roman shades in a fresh floral pattern in our color scheme,” says Katy.
The clean-lined window treatments also allow more natural light into the kitchen, which only has paned windows along the wall above the sink. “My favorite redo was adding a pair of floating wood shelves to a lower cabinet that had become a bit of a catchall,” Katy says of a unit of cabinetry with a refinished wood countertop and wallpapered niche. “I was able to design a beautiful space that can double as a bar or buffet, as well as create display space for the homeowner to showcase her cookbooks, art, and objects.”
The same stained oak countertop is carried over to an adjacent desktop area, which is furnished with a comfortable chair slipcovered in green. Other refreshes include reupholstering the barstools in a striped Perennials fabric, which is stain resistant and low maintenance.
“Katy really made the right design choices for our family—the kitchen has become the heartbeat of our home,” says Susan. “We have breakfast, lunch, and casual dinners at the island. Eve, who took her cooking to meteoric heights during the pandemic, turns on the music and works her culinary magic.”