Silver Spring, MD — Einstein said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” The owners of this kitchen would probably have settled for less knowledge if only to have the opportunity to look into nature from their kitchen. Nature – in this case a prized year-round garden – was otherwise viewable only from a cramped and functionally challenged sunroom.
Jonas Carnemark, principal and lead designer of Bethesda, MD-based CARNEMARK system + design, Inc., was responsible for the remodel, which was part of a larger overall update.
“[The larger project included] integrating the sunroom into the rest of the house, updating the kitchen, expanding the rear entrance with a mudroom, and reconfiguring the master suite to make room for a larger closet and bathroom,” he remarks.
A Room Repositioned
According to Carnemark, the couple – empty nesters – longed to enjoy their abundant garden through all types of weather. “Unfortunately, their home’s existing sunroom was small and poorly situated,” he says. “In fact, awkward flow meant the space went unused. The clients wanted to integrate the sunroom into the rest of the house, and update their existing kitchen for a better flow.”
Carnemark adds that the biggest challenges centered on the garden. “Adding significant depth to the back of the house would have disturbed its mature plantings,” he continues. “Instead, a tether with floor-to-ceiling glazing now connects the kitchen, sunroom and rear foyer – made possible by building over the exterior stairwell – and provides ample storage. Even better, the sensitive design solution remains largely within the existing footprint.”
Because blowing out the back of the kitchen was not an option, the CARNEMARK team looked for other ways to give the remodeled kitchen a spacious feel. The group looked to maximize every bit of available space within the 240-sq.-ft. kitchen.
“For starters, we discovered a space-making solution right above our heads. Replacing the clunky, exposed soffits with flush steel I-beams required some skilled construction calisthenics,” says Carnemark, “but the resulting smooth ceiling and additional height proved well worth the efforts. The kitchen immediately felt more open.”
Organic forms define the style of the space, including a rich wood table from Spekva that juts from a tidy central island, topped with a Pyrolave counter. A heated large-format tile floor – that simulates COR-TEN (or “weathering”) steel – further integrates the rear half of the first floor and keeps the clients warm underfoot.
Carnemark says of the kitchen: “Here, wood, volcanic and quartz countertops combine with beech and glass cabinetry and earth tones to create a warm, natural palette.”
The homeowners looked to the environment for more than just color inspiration. They also sought to employ sustainable solutions while still getting the visual results they desired.
“At CARNEMARK, we do green a little differently. For starters, it’s been part of our company’s mission and design from our beginning more than 20 years ago,” says Carnemark who, himself, is trained in environmental design and has worked on alternative energy homes in California. “Our team has also tapped into the long-term expertise of Europeans, as energy-saving and environmentally sensitive practices are commonplace there.”
Integral to this was minimizing construction impact. “For the kitchen space specifically, we did not add an addition, therefore did not disturb the earth. We instead worked within the existing footprint,” adds the designer.
Product selections contributed to this overall goal, as well. “We used SieMatic cabinetry, which is a green product by design,” he notes. The honey shade of beech cabinetry is a singular design element that shapes the attitude of the kitchen. Enhancing it further is a contrast of several floating cabinets, also from SieMatic in basalt grey with frosted glass doors. Open wall storage is also featured elsewhere in the kitchen.
“Energy-conservative appliances were installed, as well as new windows that are energy efficient,” continues Carnemark. The appliances include a gas range from Thermador.
Other elements pivotal to the design include fittings from Dornbracht, Silestone perimeter countertops and large-format floor tiles from Porcelanosa.
“The bottom line for us is that good design usually ends up being green design, too,” says Carnemark of his company’s vision for the design process. “CARNEMARK’s approach to designing and building relies on systems that work. Saving energy, time and money works. Reducing waste and mistakes works. Improving the flow, the comfort, the quality of life – that’s what we’re working for. And sustainability flows naturally into all of these goals.”
Similar materials find their way upstairs into the master bath, where limestone, heated floors, glass and neutral paint tones lend a sauna-like atmosphere with all of the comforts of home. A spacious master closet and ample yet cozy bedroom complete the updated master suite.
Design details create practical solutions and visual connections throughout the seamless whole-house renovation. A re-oriented powder room offers more privacy. Large windows maximize garden views. A former window becomes a striking arched opening, allowing sight lines from the living room to the outside.
“Together, practical design solutions and innovative product details combine to open up the once-cramped, outdated kitchen, offering a favorite garden view in the clients’ daily lives,” Carnemark concludes.
For more about this project, click here.