• Gurney’s visually seamless kitchen design still has to function, so he masked electrical outlets by having them pop up out of the island’s surface. Roll-top doors hide countertop appliances, and custom-fitted butcher blocks slide to where they’re most neeed.

    Credit: Paul Burk

    Gurney’s visually seamless kitchen design still has to function, so he masked electrical outlets by having them pop up out of the island’s surface. Roll-top doors hide countertop appliances, and custom-fitted butcher blocks slide to where they’re most neeed.

robert m. gurney, faia, architect, alexandria, va.

After two days of tough choices, the jury unanimously cheered for this “perfectly done” kitchen renovation in which “nothing [was] out of place.” The monoculture of cabinets provide ordered storage while disguising nearly every appliance. Stainless steel accents highlight the room's linearity. A contrasting palette of light and dark enhances crisp detailing. Seamless maple floors and unbroken ceiling planes “provide a clear connection to the rest of the house,” says Robert M. Gurney, FAIA.

Exaggerating the island's length generates plenty of room for the home's occupants, a family of five, to gather without overcrowding. The substantial marble-topped surface also visually anchors a space that Gurney calls “the heart and soul of the house.” If the island is the anchor, then floor-to-ceiling steel-and-glass doors are sails that sweep kitchen views through the family room to green acres beyond. The pivoting panels, “a big part of the whole design,” feature black steel framing in “the style of [Piet] Mondrian,” Gurney says.

In addition to their good looks, the doors acoustically separate the kitchen from the family room without blocking light. They certainly captured the jury's attention. “The doors really add to the architecture,” said one judge. Echoed another: “The doors really make the design.”

  • Gurney’s visually seamless kitchen design still has to function, so he masked electrical outlets by having them pop up out of the island’s surface. Roll-top doors hide countertop appliances, and custom-fitted butcher blocks slide to where they’re most neeed.

    Credit: Paul Burk

    Gurney’s visually seamless kitchen design still has to function, so he masked electrical outlets by having them pop up out of the island’s surface. Roll-top doors hide countertop appliances, and custom-fitted butcher blocks slide to where they’re most neeed.

principal in charge: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect
project designer: Claire L. Andreas, Associate AIA, Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect
kitchen consultant: Alison Tilley, Bulthaup Corp., Washington, D.C.
general contractor: SugarOak Corp., Herndon, Va.
engineer: Tony Beale, Advance Engineers, Fairfax, Va.
interior designer: Thérèse Baron Gurney, ASID, Baron Gurney Interiors, Washington, D.C.
project size: 630 square feet
site size: 5 acres
construction cost: Withheld
photography: Paul Burk Photography