What’s Cooking? Three local designer kitchens with great tastes.


Kitchen trends come and go, but the best ones have a practical edge that endures. In late fall, when the approaching holidays present the best reason in the calendar for renovating, kitchen design gets a little sharper. We’ve combed the region for a few new kitchens that infuse utilitarian ideas with fresh style. Each responds to its owner’s dream of having a special place to cook and spend family time. We think they have staying power.

Before hurricane damage forced Annapolis architect Wayne Good to remodel his cottage on St. George Island in St. Mary’s County, he was a passionate cook with a secret ambition to have a restaurant-grade kitchen. He met the challenge of building it inside a corner of the 750-square-foot house by combining high-tech culinary industry materials and original wood the local waterman
recycled to build the place 100 years ago.

His first step: think outside the kitchen triangle of range, fridge, sink. “I wanted a big cooking area so I got the fridge and oven out of the way in a separate pantry,” he says. The real work takes place at a six-burner cooktop against a wall spanned by an 11-foot-long copper hood and backsplash. Stainless steel open shelving topped with stainless prep surfacing flanks the cooktop. “I have an antique Italian copper and tin skillet that inspired the mix of metals,” says Good.

A 3-foot-long stainless steel sink and backsplash hanging off the adjacent wall incorporates a dishwasher drawer and connects to an espresso center with lower shelves holding all Good’s basic clear glassware and white dishes. The recess for a drainboard beside the sink is deep enough to wash oysters and vegetables. The center dining table is an antique drafting table that Good topped with a slab of Carrara marble and rigged to raise higher for use in prep, baking and candy making.

Kitchen details

Size: 157 square feet
Building materials: Original heart pine flooring. New board-and-batten walls; Smith & Orwig, 410-275-2339.
Countertops, sink and shelving: Custom-fabricated stainless steel, http://www.custommetalsofvirginia.com
Copper hood: Fabricated by Smith & Orwig.
Storage: Open shelving “to see and use everything,” says Good. “With cabinets, you forget what you own.”
Lighting: Bare 75-watt light bulbs plus LED built-ins for under the copper hood; over-sink wall mounts, restoration http://www.hardware.com
Island: Antique cast-iron drafting table with new 500 pound Carrara marble top. Eames wire chairs, http://www.hermanmiller.com
Cooktop and griddle: Viking, http://www.vikingrange.com

Trish Houck of Kitchen Concepts helped a Guilford couple renovate this 1920s-era kitchen based on their wish to have a sofa in the room. “Comfort was really important,” says the wife and mother of two, whose input on every design choice resulted in a totally personalized space for her family.

Architect Laura Thomas’ family room addition paved the way by integrating kitchen and gathering functions into a single room—drawing inspiration from an ’80s concept of the kitchen as the living room in which you cook.

“After Johnny Grey designed the unfitted kitchen for Smallbone in the U.K., furniture-like cabinets became a mainstay of kitchen design in the States,” says Houck, who came in after Thomas to add both function and style. “Appliances disappeared behind panels, and kitchens became a place to spend much more than mealtimes.”

This kitchen takes Smallbone’s prototype in a new direction. Instead of mixing cabinet colors and styles for a look that grew over time, its woodwork is streamlined and painted a single, soothing color to unify the big room.

The wife who knew she’d tire of a trendy look wanted a simple backdrop with clean-lined mouldings, a subtle interplay of tones and no over-island pendant lighting obscuring the family room view. “Our kitchen is such a lively place, I needed the serenity of simplicity,” she says. “Gray is great because I can change the look with the accent colors of different linens, flowers and holiday decorations. It always feels fresh.”

Kitchen details

Size: 600 square feet, including family room
Flooring: Travertine stone with thin grout line for a museum-floor look.
Cabinet color: Houck’s stock color, “Weimaraner,” to match the floor tile.
Cabinet style: Flat-panel with beaded inset, popular in the 1920s butler’s pantry.
Countertops and backsplash: Statuary marble and white subway tile.
Island: Curved for ease of conversation. “Onda” kitchen stools from Design within Reach, http://www.dwr.com
Lighting: In place of pendants, Leucos “Ony” low-voltage down lights with Murano glass trim, http://www.leucosusa.com
Range: Six-burner, http://www.subzero-wolf.com
Designer: Trish Houck, Kitchen Concepts, http://www.trishhouckkitchens.com

Designer Lauren Hurlbrink has a cardinal rule when it comes to her clients’ kitchens: Don’t be afraid to remodel to keep pace with a growing family. She used the same philosophy when upgrading the galley kitchen of her own 1913 Ruxton home 10 years ago when her three children were all under the age of 6. And she revamped it this year because the fridge couldn’t handle the demands of their now-teenage appetites. Instead of indulging in a grand makeover, she retained the kitchen’s sound working layout and concentrated on getting a new look with some cost-saving changes.

“I started by gutting the island to add two refrigerator drawers and an icemaker,” she says. “The slab of granite I found for the new countertop is an eye-catching room focus.” She economized by retaining the perimeter’s Corian countertops and developing a new gray-and-yellow color palette. Gray, “the new neutral,” is a foil for the “positive” yellow she introduced as a lacquered finish on the breakfast room walls. She extended this yellow punctuation to the back walls of cabinets and new chair upholstery.

Hurlbrink saved on cabinet replacement by changing out door styles and hardware. She replaced brushed nickel plumbing fixtures with livelier chrome and brought in more chrome sparkle with new over-island lanterns and a drum-shade chandelier in the breakfast room. Finally, she discovered a round breakfast table was a better fit than her rectangular model to accommodate their odd number of five family members.

Kitchen details

Size: 330 square feet; breakfast room, 187 square feet
Flooring: No rugs underfoot; original bare wood for a streamlined look that’s easy-care.
Paint colors: Breakfast room walls, “Van Gogh Yellow” (2070), Fine Paints of Europe. Kitchen walls, “Stonington Gray” (hc-170), Benjamin Moore. Island, “Benjamin Moore Gray” (2121-10).
New cabinet door fronts: Mix of Shaker flat-panel on island and glass neo-classical mullions on opposite cabinets.
Countertops: Corian “Platinum” http://www.corian.com
Backsplash: Silver Cloud granite, Universal Marble & Granite Inc., http://www.umgrocks.net
Lighting: Recessed at perimeter, chrome chandelier with drum shade; over-island lanterns from http://www.circalighting.com
Cooktop: Six-burner Thermador
Designer: Lauren Hurlbrink, http://www.laurenhurlbrink.com

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here