The Cheng family’s kitchen remodel included a baking station with an antiqued-mirror wall. Pictured from left: John, Megen, Ashley and Emma. Photo by Michael Ventura.


Rise and Shine

When Megen and Ashley Cheng moved from a townhouse to a single-family home in the New Mark Commons community in Rockville, the 7-by-10-foot peninsula-style kitchen seemed like an upgrade for the couple. But eight years, two kids and one big dog later it felt way too small. “My husband likes to cook, I love to bake, and the kids like to help,” Megen says, “but there just wasn’t enough space for all of us to be in there at the same time.”

The Chengs love their walkable neighborhood, which has a pool and is close to Rockville Town Center, so moving wasn’t an option. Remodeling was. They turned to Kirsten Anthony Kaplan of Haus Interior Design in Rockville, and she suggested removing an interior wall and incorporating the old dining room to create an expanded kitchen with a breakfast nook. Kaplan recommended Stephanie Fried of Jack Rosen Custom Kitchens, also in Rockville, and contractor Dave Costopoulos of Dynamic Renovation in Silver Spring, to complete the team.

The Chengs loved the look of a center island, but there wasn’t enough width due to a large HVAC return in the wall between the kitchen and living room. Relocating it would have been prohibitively expensive, so the design team turned the problem into an asset. They highlighted the obstacle by wrapping it with cabinets for a dedicated baking area. “There are always glitches in projects,” Kaplan says. “That’s what makes it challenging and fun.”


In the new, more spacious layout, the sink, range, dishwasher, refrigerator and primary storage cabinets line the perimeter of the room. Wood shelves, supported by metal brackets, appear to float across the windows. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.


A custom baking station is perfect for Megen, who bakes at least once a week and always makes special decorative cakes for the kids’ birthdays. “She needed a place to spread out and roll dough, so we gave her a 25-inch deep countertop,” Fried says. The base has storage drawers and a pullout trash cabinet. All of her baking supplies are kept in tall, 12-inch-deep pantry cabinets, the bright red mixer stays on the counter, and the wall oven is right around the corner.

“We wanted to differentiate the station from the rest of the kitchen, so we used navy blue, which is a very popular accent color,” Fried says. An antiqued-mirror wall behind the baking station reflects light from the windows and pendants down onto the prep surface. “It’s a gorgeous accent piece,” Megen says, referring to the blue cabinets, “and it feels really open because there are no cabinets above.”

The new kitchen’s overall style reflects the Chengs’ modern sensibility, but it’s classic enough that they won’t have to redesign it anytime soon. For the big items, they kept things simple. They chose Shaker-style cabinet doors, installed solid-white quartz countertops, and refinished the original 2¾-inch oak floorboards in a natural tone.


The kitchen’s new informal dining space, with a chic banquette, acrylic ghost chairs and an oversize brass pendant light, provides a strong visual focal point from the front entry. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.


They dressed it up with decorative lighting, hardware, and fabrics on the banquette. “Megen had a great Pinterest board with touches of satiny aged brass,” says Kaplan, who chose the metal for the hardware on the blue cabinets on the wall opposite the sink, the light fixtures and the faucet. She tempered the gold tones with flat black hardware on the white cabinets in the rest of the kitchen.

The Chengs have a formal dining room, but wanted an eat-in kitchen for everyday meals. The designers tucked an L-shaped banquette into an existing bump-out on the exterior wall. “We can fit four to six kids on the bench for snacks,” Megen says. The beverage refrigerator is within reach, so it’s easy for kids to grab a drink without entering the cooking area. “The kitchen has truly become a space that we can all enjoy,” Megen says.