Center hall homes have undeniable appeal—they’re balanced and symmetrical, with rooms that are clearly defined. This Washington, D.C., colonial had yet another thing going for it: It overlooks the city’s Rock Creek Park—leafy, scenic national parkland that’s unbuildable.
Yet this house, a 1980s cookie-cutter take on the colonial, wasn’t exactly capitalizing on its great situation. "Each room seemed independent, and there was no flow through the house," says architect Jane Treacy. "You entered and exited from the same point, feeling trapped in each room, which made the house feel small. What’s more, the place didn’t take enough advantage of having a national park in the backyard.
Here’s how the design team opened up the home to establish clear sightlines throughout and create a dream kitchen with zones that speak to every possible function a kitchen needs to perform.
The Kitchen Drove the Entire Remodel. It was the motivator for opening up the house and clearing sightlines throughout. The project team started by designing a 10-foot-by-40-foot addition in the back of the house that would maximize parkland views. By adding 10 feet to the rear of the house, the eating area was enlarged, and a visual connection to the outside was established using low-E windows for the 40-foot span of glass wall.
Sightlines and Flow Drove the Floor Plan. "When you have three kids, you end up getting a lot of people coming over to your house," observes Treacy of playdates. For an active family, visual connections between the rooms was key. Now, "when you come in the front door, you have a sense of a whole way out of the house," says Treacy.
Zone 1 The curved island is what you see when you walk in the front door. A prep space topped with stainless steel and finished with Wenge veneer, it has an integral sink, storage drawers, and an undercounter fridge. There’s a 4-foot distance to the wall oven, making the island a close landing spot for hot dishes, with a distance that’s sufficiently wide for two cooks to work in at the same time. The island’s curved side draws traffic into the kitchen while diverting it away from the cooks’ space.
Zone 2 The cleanup island, topped with quartz composite, is where the secondary sink and dishwasher live. The sink—which is where active cooks actually spend most of their time—has a plum view of the outdoors, and there are stools on the other side of the island for hanging out.
Zone 3 The computer desk is for kids and grown-ups because this is a family house. "The whole idea was about flow for an active family and getting all components for living housed on this floor," says Treacy. The workplace feels cozy yet not hidden: it, too, has prime views of the park. Incorporating an area like this into the kitchen allows for homework, bill paying, and emailing in a space that’s open yet organized.
Zone 4 The breakfast table, which looks out onto the woodlands, offers one of the best views in the house. Because the table is set in a corner, there’s also a good view of where the kids play. From here, sightlines extend back through the living room and clear to the front of house.
Zone 5 The fridge and the appliance wall are an independent area of the kitchen. Designing a separate "machine zone" that includes pantry storage both above and below the ovens means that all sides of the larger curved island can be well utilized by multiple cooks at once.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.