Ada Fernandez Johnson and her husband, Michael Johnson, are busy attorneys with three active children, but they always make dining together a priority, even on weeknights. “Ninety percent of the time we eat as a family, so having a comfortable informal dining space is very important to us,” she says. When they decided to remodel the kitchen of their home in the Martin’s Additions neighborhood of Chevy Chase, this feature was top of mind.
The couple enjoys cooking, but the layout of their old kitchen had always bothered them. They didn’t need more square footage, just a more efficient setup. They enlisted kitchen designer Nadia Subaran, co-founder and co-owner of Aidan Design in Silver Spring, to improve the room’s awkward G-shaped floor plan. Working within the existing footprint, she made dramatic changes, such as eliminating all of the cabinetry on the back wall and dropping the windows to bring in natural light and expand views of the backyard. She also added an 88-by-48-inch island with a sink, dishwasher, trash receptacle and counter seating for three.
A large professional range was very important to Michael. In order to fit a 60-inch-wide Wolf unit, the designer elongated a wall, eliminating a desk area and shifting the opening to the pantry.
The linchpin in the new plan’s success is the dedicated family dining area. “They absolutely wanted a freestanding table, and didn’t want to be limited to island seating,” Subaran says. At first glance, the bay window was the logical spot, but that would have meant reducing the size of the island in order to accommodate a 54-inch round table. Instead, Subaran designed a 48-inch bench attached to the end of the island and floated the pedestal table in the middle of the room. It saves floor space, and the Johnsons can fit up to seven people, two of them on the bench. “Initially, the decision was space-driven, but it ended up becoming a major design element in the room,” Ada says.
Annie Elliott, owner of Washington, D.C.-based Bossy Color, helped her longtime clients make the room feel as much like a living space as it does a kitchen. The unique color palette blends warm and cool tones in the woods, metals, marble countertop and hand-painted tile backsplash. “The gray cabinets give it a sense of subdued elegance,” Ada says. Brass cabinet hardware pops against the gray and coordinates with the Jonathan Adler Puzzle Chandelier over the table.
Cream and red fabrics on the dining chairs and the bay window seat cushion and pillows pull the entire look together. The cheery cotton prints were stain-treated for durability and easy cleaning. “We wanted this room to be beautiful,” Ada says, “but, most importantly, to be functional and fit the way we live.”