At first, Kirsten Kaplan’s clients just wanted to remodel their outdated kitchen, she says, recalling what sparked the complete redesign of this five-bedroom, 6,847-square-foot Fairfax home. “But when they realized that the open-plan first floor meant that the kitchen design would be a very visible and beautiful feature of their home,” says the design pro, “they decided to broaden their scope and seek our help.”
Kaplan of Haus Interior Design became involved with the project in April 2020, along with Dynamic Renovation Contractors and Larry Rosen of Jack Rosen Custom Kitchens. Rosen’s work was cut out for him: The prior kitchen had stained cherry cabinets, dark granite counters, and an odd double island (two counters at different heights, the lower one containing the range) taking up much of the kitchen’s once-tiled footprint.
“There were also tall cabinets at the entrances to the ‘room,’ resulting in a closed-off appearance,” adds Rosen.
The homeowners, who are empty nesters, craved a kitchen where they could comfortably entertain their children, grandchildren, and friends, and that is exactly what the design team gave them. The new space features white-painted cabinetry, a large central island with a stained wood base and counter sink, and a custom hood for the new range, which was relocated to a perimeter wall.
“The sculpted detail on the island provides a perfect response to the swooping hood,” says Rosen of the craftsmanship. “Kirsten’s selection of hanging pendants gives the island its sense of space.”
Flooring on the first level was unified by removing the kitchen floor tile and replacing it with the same rich stained oak used elsewhere in the open floor plan.
Off the kitchen is a hexagonal sunroom and a step-down great room with soaring cathedral ceilings. The kitchen’s eat-in area serves as a bridge to both spaces. The front of the house has a formal living room and dining room that are open to each other through cased openings, and the dining room is visible through the kitchen.
The décor previously had a red-and-gold palette, traditional furnishings, minimal architectural detailing, and ornate window treatments.
“Our clients decided none of their existing furnishings could be salvaged to work with the new design aesthetic, and we were entrusted to select new lighting, furniture, rugs, wall coverings, window treatment, and accents for every room,” says Kaplan. “The day we pulled down the overwrought window treatments was one of the best days on site!”
Taking cues from the high-contrast palette in the kitchen (white cabinetry paired with darker elements, such as the stained wood island base and the black metal lanterns), Kaplan formulated a neutral palette of taupes, grays, and creams, punctuated with darker accents. For clients who favor neutral décor, Kaplan says, “It has staying power and won’t ever go out of style. I also find that the larger the project, the more clients feel comfortable with neutrals that unify all of the spaces, while providing a common backdrop for rich textures, art, and lighting.”
For example, in the formal living room, two tufted Chesterfield sofas in a silver-gray velvet chenille with nailhead trim are paired with dark-taupe leather armchairs, all set around a hexagonal-shaped wood cocktail table. The cocktail table plays off the shape of the sunroom for continuity of pattern and geometry.
“Before our involvement, the sunroom was hardly every used and served as a space for haphazard storage, despite its lovely views of the backyard and abundant natural light,” says Kaplan. “We decided to highlight the room by adding a bespoke ceiling-beam design, placing a pendant at its center, and organizing the furniture plan [around] it. This dramatic transformation brought the room back to life and made it a special spot to enjoy the morning sunlight and coffee.”
Because the homeowners have grandkids, the soft furnishings are not only chic, clean-lined, and transitional in style, but also durable and hard-wearing so they’ll age well.
“One of our challenges was making the two-story-high great room feel more appropriately scaled and intimate,” says Kaplan. “We achieved this by adding classic boxed molding throughout, a limestone fireplace, and suitably sized furniture to fill the vast room and make it inviting.”
An oversize double chandelier also brings the ceiling height down and fills the vaulted space.
Meanwhile, the dining room is a gem unto itself, and because it’s used for special family occasions, Kaplan made some bolder choices, like wrapping its walls in a moodier neutral wallcovering enlivened by a diamond pattern. That pattern is also repeated in the X-trim on the glass-fronted custom china cabinet and in the subtle wood inlay on the dining table. But the star here is the beautiful avian-patterned textile on the backs of the dining chairs, giving the room’s neutrality full flight and making it anything but boring.
“Once we decided to highlight the angles of the home and add reinforced ceiling and wall moldings, we carried these shapes subtly into the overall décor,” says Kaplan. “Nearly every room contains furnishings and fabrics with obvious geometric references to the architecture.”
For example, the grid pattern on the eat-in 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 ran in our May issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.