I’m in before-and-after mode this Labor Day weekend, especially since this kitchen project in Alexandria’s Hollin Hills neighborhood is such a dramatic transformation. Kitchen and bath designer Brian McGarry helped the owners go from here:
To here, much more in keeping with the Hollin Hills Mid-Century vibe:
More on this specific project in a moment. First a note about Brian, with whom I had a delightful phone conversation this morning: Like most of us in the post-Great Recession world, he’s gone into business for himself after he was laid off from Custom Crafters Inc. when it fell victim to the economy and went out of business in 2009. He’s worked for himself full-time since January 2010, he he reports that it’s the best thing that ever happened to him.
“I don’t have to be in somebody’s showroom all day, or commute anywhere, ” he says. He also gets to work full-time with his wife Robin. “If my wife and I want to take a walk at 2 o’clock, we can take a walk at 2 o’clock!” But then again, if a client wants to meet at 7:30 a.m. before her working day starts, he’s there, too.
(Small-world tangent: Brian and Robin met years ago working at the Washington Design Center, where I now work as marketing director.)
Back to the project at hand: The clients wanted to modernize the space (obviously), and increase its efficiency. They liked the color grey, but the rest was up to Brian.
First, he got permission from the Hollin Hills board to take out a window so he could stack major appliances in the corner:
Now, something from the fridge can go directly into the microwave or oven. And the stack, with its lovely glass-fronted cabinets, makes a huge visual first impression, flanked by those huge windows on either side.
And although the before and after couldn’t be more different, he did echo the old look, replacing the ugly fake-brick backsplash here,
With a glowy reflective glass tile from Architectural Ceramics, here:
And let’s not forget storage options — lots of them:
Brian worked with Fina Construction on the project. Robert Fina lives in Hollin Hills, and understands its unique architecture and how those 40s- and 50s-era houses were built, so he is the go-to guy for almost all remodeling jobs there. I just perused his Web site, and visually speaking, I can see the work is fantastic. Here is another kitchen Robert worked on in the neighborhood:
I love how the original plate-glass windows are preserved in these projects — all that glass that architect Charles Goodman incorporated is one of the neightborhood’s most distinctive elements.
But back to Brian. We first “met” via email when I was doing the Washington Spaces blog and he submitted an adorable condo kitchen from Penn Quarter. I’ve had these more recent photos tucked away since I did a story for the Washington Post last summer about the production designers for Sex in the City and Mad Men, who grew up together around Hollin Hills (read the story here).
“It’s a great neighborhood,” Brian says, noting that he now has a few Hollin Hills projects under his belt. “Those homes really inspire me — they’re so cool.”