Storage is often problematic in old houses, but solutions are rarely as innovative as those in this 1920s home, whose configuration lacked adequate cabinet space, natural daylight, and room for cooking, dining, and socializing. The result is “warm and inviting,” the judges said.

Part of a whole-house renovation, the kitchen illustrates how sensitivity to scale, detail, and organization can immeasurably improve interior space without extending exterior walls. (Some interior terra-cotta walls had to be reinforced with steel posts and lintels.)

The kitchen was relocated from a dark, cramped room on the side to the larger living room in back, with a new 12-foot-wide bay window providing generous sunlight and views to the yard. This left little room for wall cabinets, so custom cabinetry was designed to create concealed storage and match the detailing of the original house.

For instance, the wall between kitchen and dining was deepened to improve both rooms' proportions. On one side of the doorway, the wall's “found” storage space contains a pull-out, two-part food pantry that is 8 feet high and capable of supporting 500 pounds. The other side conceals a small broom closet and the refrigerator.

In the kitchen proper, open cabinets keep frequently used items handy and help the room feel more open. Beneath overhead dish storage, the island combines open and closed storage to conceal the microwave and more.

The judges also liked the coffered ceiling and its thoughtful organization of light and function. Project architect Devon Perkins said the ceiling was divided into three sections, with the recessed lights carefully aligned in the narrow side panels. “Giving a nice sense of order to the lighting is important,” he said. “Complicated myriad recessed lights … never look good.”

A variety of well-chosen natural materials tie the project together. “The checkerboard cork is great,” the judges said of the floor; it also defines the kitchen space and, as with all cork, is soft and sound-absorbent — a plus for the family's two young kids. A seamless stainless steel counter, sink, backsplash, and drainboard leave no joints to collect germs.

Category: Kitchen remodeling, over $100,000

Location: Washington, D.C.

Contractor: Barry Swartz, Barmark Construction, Gaithersburg, Md.

Designers: Ralph Cunningham and Devon Perkins, Cunningham/Quill Architects, Washington, D.C.