Invest In The Details: How A Maryland Home’s Kitchen + Bath Kept A Historic Vibe


mayrland kitchen with blue cabinets and copper pots

In a Maryland home by Lilse McKenna, shown here and on previous page, the kitchen features custom cabinetry painted in Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue and Benjamin Moore’s Ivory White. A House of Rohl pot filler sits above a Lacanche range while Hickory Chair stools upholstered in Holly Hunt leather round out the decoration.

pantry with copper sink

Waterworks’ copper sink and fittings adorn the prep area. The architectural scheme is by Michael Elfenbein Design.

floral bathroom in benjamin moore silken blue

The primary bathroom follows the same guiding principles as the kitchen. Vaulted ceilings and antique wide-plank flooring throughout connect the spaces. In the water closet, McKenna added paneling painted in Benjamin Moore’s Silken Blue to complement Bennison Fabrics’ showstopping Wheat Flower. To create the feeling of an old historic bedroom that had been converted into a bath, the designer included antique etched hurricanes with custom brass and mahogany backplates.

bathroom with antique wood chest as vanity

As much as the designer wanted to fabricate a new vanity for the bath, nothing was turning out quite as well as the 18th-century chest she had found, which fit snuggly into the footprint of the room. She added a marble countertop and backsplash, along with fittings and a sink. The chest’s beautiful original finish was kept as is.

blue bathroom with copper tub

An old-fashioned copper Waterworks tub adds to the narrative that this was once a small bedroom original to the home that had been adopted as a bath over time. Placing the piece away from the wall and installing the fittings directly into the floor contributes to the authentic feel.

“I love the challenge of putting together kitchens and baths, and I really interrogate my clients about how they live in these functional rooms,” says New York-based designer Lilse McKenna, who explains that a lot of wasted space can accumulate if the needs and wants of clients are ignored. For a home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that dates to 1750, investing in the details—everything from the materials and hardware to the finishes and fittings—allowed the renovated kitchen and bath to maintain its historic feel while still embracing a new and elevated scheme.

Where did you start? It was very important to the clients that when embarking upon this renovation, we paid homage to the heritage of the home and brought in elements that felt authentic and even patinated. Cue the tongue-and-groove walls, antique ceiling beams, butcher-block style countertop and pine flooring that we dyed instead of stained in keeping with 18th-century ethos.

The kitchen island is beautiful! We hung the custom Ann-Morris pot rack to make it feel like an older kitchen, but it really grounds the entire space and balances out the massive island. I also like the collected feel of mixing metals; here we used antique copper pots, brass lighting and fittings, and a treated stainless-steel hood. Some may have rules about finishes but I always just go with what feels right in the space.

Talk to us about this extra sink? The homeowners cook and entertain constantly and needed two sinks and dishwashers, so we added a prep area with a charming, hammered copper sink and painted cabinetry. This allows for a bit more storage, so things feel less cluttered. Everyone always ends up in the kitchen and I strive to make sure the details here are just as beautiful as in the rest of the house.

Click through the slider above for more details on the update of the home’s kitchen and bath.