A Modern Kitchen For A 1950’s Split-Level

Designed & Built by

Kitchen with View to Dining Room
Kitchen with View to Dining Room

View As Enter From Foyer
View As Enter From Foyer
The kitchen in this 1950’s split level in Washington, DC had been updated once in the 1980’s.  It was overdue for another update — this time, a more modern style central to the house and with better connection to the outdoors.  Among other items, the wish list included:

A Powder Room on the Main Floor
A Second Sink
Moving non-cooks out of the workflow
Better placement for the dishwasher — so you didn’t need to close it to put away dishes
Better natural light while preserving privacy and security
A Pantry
A Dining Room that could be either formal or informal
4 burners and a grill with a 36″ cooktop
A whole-house multi-media system
Exposed trash & recycling containers — since several members of the family seemed to only use them if they could see them.
To better use the seemingly wasted space taken up by 2 doors off the kitchen — one into the old dining room and one that led to the foyer.

We were able to satisfy the full list — all within the existing footprint.

The Kitchen cabinets are a combination of Zebra wood on the island and a natural alder elsewhere.  We used a deep walnut on the toekick to blend in with the darkly stained oak floors and to make the cabinets appear as if they float.  The pulls are all stainless steel bar pulls that are easy on aging hands and won’t catch on clothing.  The counters are honed absolute granite.

Sliding Wall Allows The Dining Room To be Isolated From the Kitchen
Sliding Wall Allows The Dining Room To be Isolated From the Kitchen
A sliding wall between the dining room and kitchen allows the homeowners to close-off the dining room when they’re entertaining non-family.  The three panels are most often pushed all the way to the outside wall (1st and 2nd images).  The panels are sized to be the same width as the island to give more visual separation without cutting off all light (image above).  Another sliding door — this time a pocket door — can separate the kitchen from the foyer (picture below; next to the ovens).  The door usually fits in a pocket next to the pantry.

Pocket Door Separates Kitchen From Foyer
Pocket Door Separates Kitchen From Foyer
The second sink is on the non-cook’s side of the island.  The husband and children can make sandwiches and snacks without getting in the way of the cook.  It’s also useful for chopping vegetables during holiday meals.

Miele Modular Cooktop Components Allow 4 burners and grill in 36" Cabinet
Miele Modular Cooktop Components Allow 4 burners and grill in 36″ Cabinet
The cooktop, above, is a modular Miele unit that allowed us to combine 4 burners and a grill within a 36″ cabinet — providing more useful storage space in the island.  Two open areas in the island — a center area on the non-cook’s side and a smaller area next to the cooktop allow exposed trash and recycling that’s still largely tucked away out of view.
We took the area formerly used by wide picture windows and replaced them with patio doors — a triple in the dining room and a double in the breakfast area.  A solid “back” door was replaced with a single glass door.  We doubled the width and increased the height of the windows over the sink area.  We actually reduced the amount of wall space devoted to glazing while dramatically increasing the natural light.  All windows and doors are triple-pane, low-e, argon filled for comfort.  Security bars on some of the old windows could be eliminated by using laminated glass for safety and security.
One end of the old dining room is divided into a new powder room, a pantry and an alcove in-between with a small desk for re-charging cell phones or notebook computers.  The powder room, below, has a honed granite sink that coordinates with the countertops and porcelain mosaic tile in a band around the room that coordinates with the new facing on the fireplace.

New Powder Room
New Powder Room

Floor Plan "After"
Floor Plan “After”
Floor Plan "Before"
Floor Plan “Before”

Kitchen "Before"
Kitchen “Before”
All images courtesy of Braitman Design/Build
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2 thoughts on “A Modern Kitchen For A 1950’s Split-Level”

  1. We like to have a consultation on how to merge the desire of having modern living space with old furniture. We would like to know if our current furniture (traditional oriental style) would be able to fit any of the plans you have, or if we will need new furniture.

  2. Alice – The answer is “ABSOLUTELY”. Just look at the dining table in the background of the the image to the right — it’s a very traditional dining room table with ball feet and high-backed traditional chairs. Here’s a little larger image or go to this link.

    It’s expensive to remodel and that’s often not the time to also invest in new furniture. The key is to pair down! Keep furniture that makes a statement and don’t confuse the statement with a lot of knick-knacks. Re-upholstering with the right fabric can make even Victorian lines fit within modern homes.

    If you have more detailed questions, please contact me through my website – https://www.braitmandesign.com/contact.htm

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