The luxury kitchen: From top to bottom


You know luxury when you see it. Opulent finishes, gleaming fixtures, fine detailing; a  perfectly articulated aesthetic. Yet what you see doesnt always carry the lofty price tag youd imagine. Sometimes, in fact, spaces that have high end written all over them are the result of a careful, value-conscious process, that, nonetheless, produces generous spaces, big effects even a butlers pantry.

Consider, for instance, a new 200-square-foot kitchen just completed in a 40-year-old Alexandria colonial.

Owners Bob and Marla Boulter, having grappled with the idea for years, decided it was time to embrace the showplace luxury kitchen of their dreams. They had been stockpiling and had thought a lot about the kinds of features that would support the style and ambiance they were seeking.

The rub, of course, was money. Even a hang the expenses celebrity kitchen has to be reined in somewhere. So the Boulters were searching for practical ways to get the best of everything, while staying on top of line-items costs.

Thats where David Foster of Foster Remodeling Solutions came in. A Fairfax County native whose been remodeling homes for 25 years, Foster opened a showroom at his Lorton offices a decade back, establishing relationships with some of the nations best known manufacturers of appliances, materials and building supplies. Subsequently certified as a dealer, Foster typically buys supplies below standard wholesale then passes the savings on to his remodeling clients.

Under one roof
Its all about creating efficiencies, Foster says. Our system enables customers to select finish work ideas and explore concepts with one of our designers, all in the same day if they wish. The all-under-one-roof project management then generates a string of incremental cost advantages that make the construction phase more affordable.

For example, the Moen classic gold faucets the Boulters saw at Fosters showroom would have cost far more retail; so would the Kohler plumbing fixtures, the crown molding and the oak wood flooring. 

But, just as importantly, the couple had other business with Foster no showroom could accommodate it. They wanted their showcase kitchen neatly tucked into a new three-story addition, complete with 12-foot by 13-foot, second floor office loft that looks down into the open kitchen, and an 162-square-foot lower-level exercise area designed to accommodate a future sauna.

Moreover, to make the addition a reality, Foster would have to partially remove the all-masonry bearing wall on the homes rear elevation, installing a T shaped steel beam that both supports the existing second floor and provides generous access to the new addition.

Challenges of this sort give homeowners pause. But for Foster its was simply the second phase of a substantial whole house make-over his firm had commenced for the Boulters five years back with the completion of a 3 three-level sunroom/master bathroom wing.

Now plans called for enlarging the earlier addition an exercise in phased, long- term property development which Foster has championed.

We have quite a few clients who want us to upgrade and enlarge their home in stages over a decade or more, Foster notes. They respond to the improved living benefits of one phasesay, a new master bedroom suite then start thinking about an addition to another part of the house. Too meet this kind of need, weve become conversant in all kinds of dialogues aimed at keeping the big picture efficiently on-track.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, all the details of a classic upscale kitchen converged in a series of meetings between owners and designers.

Oak planks, tied into the existing flooring, were chosen to define the new kitchens generous expanses and textured warmth, an ambiance pleasingly bathed by day in the natural light streaming forth from a rear floor-to-ceiling Palladium window.

Heritage cabinets, granite counter tops and a ceramic tile backsplash provide appropriate touches to a French country style interior that features a 36 inche, 3-burner commercial grade range and vent hood. The stainless steel combination microwave and convection oven are both functional and an alternative textural accent. By contrast, the built-in refrigerator faced with panels that match the kitchens neutral color scheme, disappears snuggly into the soft atmospherics.

At the ceiling, crown molding ties the space together. A built-in glass-faced china cabinet above a butlers pantry provides a staging area steps away from a formal dining room. General and task lighting combined with low-voltage under cabinet lights are both functional and elegant mood-setters.

In short: a celebrity would be happy here. And Life Styles of the Rich and Famous doesnt even have to know the cost is less than the effect.

John Byrd is with Home Fronts News. He can be reached at