A former chef, David Calhoun takes immense pride in his kitchen.  “It’s the perfect kitchen for parties,” he says. “And it’s really fun.” As the third set of owners of this 1930s-era home, David and his wife, Jane, felt a need to update and expand the 800-square-foot kitchen to a space where they and their children could be “all together, all the time.”  They drew up some ideas on a napkin and presented them to architect Peter Doo, whose final plans called for removal of a support wall to create a space for dining and entertaining, as well.  “The contractor thought we were crazy at first,” Calhoun explains, “but it turned out great and looks fantastic.”

Deep yellow walls complement the gold flecks in the New York Catskill granite that forms the countertops. With three sinks, four dishwashers, three ovens, an enormous stovetop and full pantry, the Calhouns’ kitchen is made for entertaining. The oversized island in the central part of the kitchen allows David and Jane to cook together without tripping over each other, while the 200-year-old Irish farm table, cushy sofa and plasma TV near the fireplace provide places for guests to mingle.  The kitchen area and deck just outside function “like an indoor/outdoor living room,” says David.  During warm weather, the four sets of French doors are thrown open to allow a flow between indoors and out. And entertaining in the space comes naturally. “The kids don’t ask what’s for dinner,” says Calhoun, “they ask who’s coming for dinner.”

Peter Doo, Grimm and Parker Architects, 301-595-1000; Trish Houck, Kitchen Concepts (cabinets), 410-461-3510; Paul Liddard, Lidco Construction, 410-235-8800.

Little Italy

When the renovation of this kitchen began, Jay Huyett of Studio 3 Architects knew one thing had to go: the plastic laminate cabinets. “The old kitchen didn’t have much character ,” he explains, “and the old-fashioned plastic laminate only made things worse.” To transform the tone and style of the kitchen and give it some contemporary chic, he selected cherry cabinets with stainless steel handles from Italian cabinetmakers Snaidero. “European cabinetry is more like furniture,” Huyett says, explaining why none of the cabinets touch the ceiling, and why two stand-alone glass-fronted cabinets float above the stove.

Other additions that create the room’s sleek new look are the stainless steel appliances— including a Décor stove and 48-inch Subzero refrigerator/freezer— and a cherry island shelving unit that extends into the living space and granite countertops. A limestone backsplash was installed to complement the neutral tones of the walls and warm color of the wood. And, to further enhance the Italian feel of the kitchen, the owners installed a built-in Miele espresso machine. Recessed lighting controlled by a dimmer tops off the room’s ambience, allowing the homeowners to cook in a well-illuminated space or dine in quiet elegance.

Jay Huyett , Studio 3 Architects, 410-268-0227; Studio Snaidero, Washington Design Center, 202-484-8066.

Party central

The owners of this Federal Hill townhouse know that it’s not the size of the kitchen, but how you use it.  With this in mind, they hired architect Patrick Sutton to redesign their kitchen to maximize space for entertaining and create a view of the beautiful pink roses trellised in their yard. Sutton’s solution was to switch the family room and kitchen, then open up the new space with marble, stainless steel, a six-foot square window and lots of storage space.

Brazilian cherry floors and accents over the window give the room a splash of color, while the stainless steel backsplash above the stove and pantry adds a sleek modern touch. Marble countertops, which climb up the back wall and around the window, were chosen for their durability, given that the couple’s love of entertaining extends to late-night dance parties on the counter in front of the massive window.

The couple loves to cook, particularly for friends, so the room had to be able to handle a small crowd. The large cooking area, which includes a six-burner range and an oversized oven, combined with a refrigerated wine rack and an extra sink, means this city couple can prep for a rollicking celebration, or a quiet dinner for two, at the kitchen’s charming island.

Patrick Sutton Associates, 410-783-1500; Arnie Wallenstein, Wallenstein Construction Inc., 410-356-6781; Badolato Granite, 410-235-9452.

Clean slate

For Nancy Cohen, the key to kitchen happiness is simplicity and function. She needed a space where working around her three teen-age sons, three large dogs and new husband, Randy Goodman, would be easy. With the amount of traffic and use that her kitchen gets, she “didn’t want to go berserk” with over-decorating. Cohen, the owner of the Eddie’s of Roland Park markets, along with architect Laura Thomas and contractor Mike Holle, worked to create a larger, airy space with simple, classic style.

In just 3 1/2 months, Cohen had a stylishly practical kitchen that incorporated her low-frills theme. Hardy unpolished granite countertops are surrounded by cream-glazed maple cabinets with satin nickel handles. All of the appliances are stainless steel, right down to the toaster oven. The six-burner Décor stove and the warmer tucked into the large central island give Cohen plenty of space to cook and entertain. The walls were painted slate blue for a calming effect.

Slightly off the main cooking area, the breakfast nook— with its sturdy Pottery Barn furnishings and beautiful view of the wooded back yard— was created by removing part of a rear wall and installing large double-hung windows. Cohen also added an Italian blue-frosted lamp above the table for a touch of color.  “It’s easy and comfortable,” Cohen says of the room. “When my sons have friends over and they make a mess, all I have to do is wipe the table down. I don’t have to worry about ruining something special.”

Mike Holle, Concept Construction Co., 410-625-2400; Mill Valley Kitchens (cabinets), 410-366-1655; Crampton Lighting Design, 410-494-4477;
Laura Thomas, Melville Thomas Architects, 410-433-4400.

French Open

One of the challenges facing designer Mary Jo Higginbotham was giving this enormous kitchen an intimate look and feel. “It’s harder to make rooms feel warm and cozy when they’re so big,” she says of the new home’s kitchen and dining area, which boasts 10-foot ceilings and hardwood floors. Higginbotham worked to transform the empty expanse into an inviting family kitchen by infusing it with a French-country feel.

In the cooking area, the wallpaper— a pattern from Ralph Lauren called “Basketweave”— complements the neutral tones of the tumbled-marble backsplash. The refrigerator and a full-sized separate freezer stand side-by-side beneath heavy crown molding and custom-made corvels with grapes, and a vegetable drawer is within easy reach. Wrought-iron bar stools, UbaTuba granite counters, and a professional-quality Viking range complete the efficient space.

In the dining area, a custom-painted table and chairs upholstered in fabric by Schumacher continue the French-country theme, and an eight-foot-long window seat provides added seating for guests, or a place to snuggle up with a good book. The carpet is a replica of one used in the Kennedy White House. Roosters of all shapes and sizes— salt and pepper shakers, ceramic pitchers, trivets and jars— add the perfect finishing touches.

Mary Jo Higginbotham, 410-472-6827; Valley Framing & Fine Arts (artwork), 410-666-5433; New Freedom Upholstery, 717-235-6636; Hagerstown Kitchen (cabinets), 301-733-2939.

Taste of Tuscany

“I spend a lot of time in Italy and I wanted a Tuscan feel in this room,” explains Baltimore public relations agent Amy Elias, whose Roland Park kitchen recently got a complete overhaul. With only two months to gut and rebuild the room, Elias, interior designer Jay Jenkins and kitchen designer Stu Dettelbach completely changed the layout of the counters and appliances.

They dropped the ceiling over the new cooking space to give the kitchen an air of intimacy, installed a gas line for Elias’ stove—the only gas range in the neighborhood— and added new lighting, cabinetry and appliances. The walls and ceiling were painted a warm brick-red, and lighting designer Bob Jones brought in an ornate pinecone chandelier to hang over the custom-made alder table. 

Elias’ dream kitchen also features an expanse of UbaTuba granite that forms the countertops and makes for a beautifully durable work space. New maple cabinet faces, painted then glazed to create a furniture-quality product, were installed over all of the appliances.  “I wanted all my appliances hidden,” Elias explains. Even the KitchenAid mixer and ice cream maker are hidden on shelves that pull out and up to waist level when they’re needed.

The adjoining dining area accommodates a large hutch that houses Elias’ extensive collection of exotic cooking oils, though the wallpaper in that area has a familiar look for Elias. “It’s the same pattern that I had in my old house,” she explains, “I loved it so much that I had to have it again.”

Jay Jenkins, Alexander Baer Associates, 410-727-4100; Stu Dettelbach, SD Kitchens, 410-653-1309; Jones Lighting, 410-828-1010.

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