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Although large, this family living space has a sense of intimacy – which makes it a favorite gathering place for friends and family

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Large kitchens present their own challenges for designers. As well as providing an efficient work triangle, large kitchens need to be warm and welcoming – as befits their status as the social heart of the home.

To create an inviting space in this 20-year-old colonial house, designer Jennifer Gilmer opted for a mixed palette of natural materials, which includes lightly stained cherry cabinets.

"The kitchen needed to have a crisp, old-world look, to complement the rest of the house," says Gilmer. "However, it couldn't be overdone, or underdone. Choosing a simple door style with a little detailing provided just the right note."

Gilmer paired the cherry with a hand-painted and glazed island and hutch-style cabinets. Both the island and hutch feature traditional plank board, which provides a simpler, more streamlined look than beadboard. The country look is further defined by the decorative moldings and display cabinets at either end of the island.

A large hood above the hearth-style cooking center was designed to fit the proportions of the space. It also enhances the sense of intimacy – as do the new beams that crisscross the ceiling.

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"The beams help to bring down the scale of the room and the 10ft-high ceiling," says Gilmer. "They feature a mix of natural wood and painted finishes, similar to the cabinets. To have used only natural wood would have been overpowering."

Natural wood does make an appearance elsewhere, however. The island and hutch countertops feature distressed walnut, which has a patina that matches the new walnut flooring. To maintain the warm, inviting ambiance, the appliances, including the microwave, are integrated into the cabinetry.

Other special features of the kitchen include refrigeration drawers and a climate-controlled wine nook in place of a former butler's pantry.

First published date: 30 December 2008

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Credit List

Builder Shaw Contracting Company
Flooring Walnut by Universal Floors
Cabinetry Custom cherry with Old Mill doors by Premier
Hardware Hettich
Countertops Coral Reef granite from Artelye Marble and Granite; distressed walnut from FreeState Timbers
Backsplash Custom design tiles from Architectural Ceramics
Refrigeration Sub-Zero
Range Wolf
Microwave GE
Ventilation Thermador
Sink and faucets Franke
Dishwasher Miele
Kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath (Chevy Chase, MD)
Architect Teresa Ann Nyberg-Grim
Interior designer Kris Fisher, Model Home Interiors Inc