“Beautiful materials and insightful choices” inspired the judges to award this transformation of a tight, traditional 1980s kitchen into one suiting a contemporary-leaning family.

The kitchen had been enclosed by a peninsula and overhanging cabinets, closing it off from the adjacent breakfast room. The remodeled space is organized around a larger island that creates a clear work surface and guides the transition from kitchen to vaulted eating area. A shadowed arch (not shown) against the framed entry-way adds texture and depth.

A cantilevered shelf breaks down the island's scale — “very cool,” said the judges. They also liked the grouping of high cabinets on the interior walls, preserving windows and leaving the exterior wall “for hanging art and fixtures, as opposed to being lined with cabinets,” they said. Even the light rail won accolades for its subtle doubling as a cornice.

A mixture of sleek and warm natural materials makes the space feel both modern and welcoming; these include brushed aluminum and dark wood cabinets; stainless steel and limestone countertops, and Venetian plaster walls. Discreet storage solutions include an appliance garage and a walk-in pantry.

Category: Kitchen remodeling, over $100,000

Location: Washington, D.C.

Contractor: Bowa Builders, McLean, Va.

Designer: Stephen Vanze and Daniel Porter, Barnes Vanze Architects, Washington, D.C.

Interior designer: Ernesto Santalla, Studio Santalla, Washington, D.C.