When I spent time in Lorraine Wallace’s Kalorama kitchen in 2011, the work space seemed perfectly functional: clean white cabinets, some natural light, a generous run of countertop. She had just published the first of her three cookbooks, “Mr. Sunday’s Soups” — the title refers to her husband, “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace — which became a bestseller.
But a cook is all too aware of her own kitchen’s limitations. In this case, cabinet doors were fraying, appliances were not up to par, and Wallace wanted more elbow room where her large family tends to gather informally. The couple does a lot of entertaining as well, so Wallace needed a kitchen that could handle catering on a grand scale.
The renovation began in 2012 and stretched over nine months, in part because of the relocation of a support beam and a bathroom. The kitchen’s design now flows seamlessly with the rest of the 1927 house, including an adjacent butler’s pantry. “Yet it has all the modern bells and whistles,” she says.
New items in the 15-by-20-foot room include two SubZero refrigerators; two Miele dishwashers; a Wolf range with hood; a Dacor wall oven with microwave and warming drawer; two sinks with Rohl faucets; and Dutterer custom cabinets. Wallace stood firm when the builders pushed repeatedly for installation of an island; instead, she found an early 19th-century French baker’s table made of pearwood, which has given Wallace the casual, gracious “hangout” place she was after.
Besides the table, here are four other ways that Wallace made the space work for her:
Repurposed countertop material: Leftover honed marble was fashioned into a 6-by-32-inch shelf near one sink and window. Wallace displays family artwork there, keeping it above the fray.
Painted switchplate covers: Her friend Louis Shields of Hastening Design Studio in Middleburg suggested the idea and did the trompe l’oeil himself after the plain plastic switchplates were in place. He matched the veins in the marble backsplash so effectively that the outlets seem to disappear.
Pot filler: Even if Wallace didn’t make soup for 20, as she often does, she would still appreciate the feature, which she says she uses once or twice a week.
Customized pantry: What was a utility closet became the place where Wallace keeps boxed and canned goods, countertop appliances and cookbooks within easy reach, yet out of sight. She also made room for a pot rack and nixed a pantry door. “I can grab and be on my way,” she says.