When architect Robert Brennan was called to the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Nancy Sachitano and Paul Andrews, he felt right at home. That's because a few years before, the principal of Brennan + Co. in Baltimore had designed an addition to the 1950s ranch that included a family room, master suite, and garage. The traditional design of the addition matched the existing house. For this kitchen remodel phase, the couple wanted a more contemporary look.
“Paul and Nancy had always collected Art Deco furniture and art. They wanted this remodel to reflect that modernism,” Brennan says. Sachitano also wanted to improve the layout. “I wanted to walk in the front door and see into the backyard,” she says.
To create this open sightline, Brennan removed the walls between the living room and dining room, as well as between the dining room and kitchen. And he was able to remove the original basement stairs — which were wedged between the kitchen and dining room. He also shifted the wall between the dining room and the adjacent bedroom. All of this provided much-needed square footage for the new open kitchen/dining room.
To provide access to the patio, Brennan replaced the window in the dining room with a sliding glass door. To maximize the light, Brennan decided to create what he calls a “reverse shed” by cutting a notch in the roof and adding a transom above the door. Sachitano gives Brennan and his team kudos for coming up with this idea. “I could not visualize this,” she says, “but it is one of our favorite things. The kitchen has no windows other than that.”
Contractor Tomasz Jaworski, owner of IP Construction in Bethesda, Md., reframed the roof above that area to create the opening. “It's a neat design,” he says. “I like Brennan's designs —it makes for exciting work.”
WORKSPACES Sachitano and Andrews both have large families, and guests who like to help out during meals, so they needed the kitchen to have multiple workspaces. “We now have four separate spaces where people can work at the same time,” Sachitano says.
The cooktop and nearby counter and the island countertop are set at a height of 32 inches — about 4 inches lower than those in the rest of the kitchen. This aids in prep work and is more comfortable for Sachitano, who is 5 feet 1 inch tall.
The island has a prep sink and is large enough for two cooks to work at the same time. “Everything I need is right there,” she says. “A shallow drawer that holds knives, the refrigerator is behind me, and I have pantry space on both sides of the refrigerator.”
Opposite the main cooking area, near the sliding glass door to the patio, is another work area that also doubles as a perch for guests. Brennan created a shallow run of cabinetry that narrows to ledges that provide a transition to the dining room. The wider section holds an oven. “Nancy wanted more counter space, so we moved the kitchen into the end of the dining area,” Brennan says. “We don't use it very often, so it's fine in that location,” Sachitano adds, adding that visitors often mistake the oven for a television.
Brennan chose to top the narrow wood-panel ledges with glass to maintain an open look while providing a place for guests to help or watch meal preparation.