Modern Twists on the Traditional Kitchen

Hail navy—bold color puts a fresh face on this Matthew Quinn-designed cooking and gathering space.

The classic kitchen is evolving, designer Matthew Quinn says, and it's a beautiful thing to see. Modern traits have emerged, but elegant bones remain at the forefront—and that's why the shift feels natural and welcome. The best of what we've always loved is still here, gorgeous as ever.

white and blue kitchen with wood floor and red accent rug
Emily Followill

That's clear in this kitchen that Quinn designed for Cindy and Charlie Stamp in McLean, Virginia. "The homeowners have very traditional taste," Quinn says. "They wanted well-defined rooms that create backdrops for their art and antiques."

pastel red chairs at counter top in kitchen
Emily Followill

Bucking the open-plan trend, Quinn worked with builder Bob Guaglianone of Novella Homes to set in place plank walls with gracefully arched doorways capped in molding, delineating the kitchen from the adjoining living room and sunroom. A coffered ceiling nods to classic architecture but with a twist—Quinn made the coffers shallow and painted the beams white for a clean, updated look.

Likewise, the cabinetry harks to traditional style, but with cleaner lines and a lower height that respects the ceiling beams and crown molding. "Clean cabinetry lines and the kitchen's overall neutral envelope let Cindy's art, rugs, and the navy blue range pop," Quinn says. "It's all about editing and balance."

dining area next to white kitchen
Emily Followill

White-painted plank walls and cabinetry celebrate the enduring allure of the white kitchen, as they also serve as a canvas for cheerful daubs of Cindy's favorite colors, blue and pink. "It's a white kitchen, but it's not," Quinn says. "It's the evolution of the traditional kitchen we love."

The blue of the showpiece range repeats in pantry cabinets painted in Benjamin Moore's "Hale Navy." The bold hue speaks to modernity, as do the black-framed windows on the range wall. Art pieces, part of Cindy's collection, continue the modern aspect, as does the marble slab serving as a range backsplash, along with Cindy's colorful rugs, and her choice of pink fabric for the counter stools.

"There's a lot of pink, but the kitchen doesn't feel frilly or fancy because the blue and black hues balance it," Quinn says. "Everyone feels comfortable."

elegant dark blue liquor cabinet
Emily Followill

Collected pieces—ceramics and antique lamps, in addition to art and textiles—and Quinn's melding of traditional and modern, masculine and feminine, bold and subdued, give the kitchen an inviting feeling of age and substance.

"This kitchen is new, but it felt lived in two hours after Cindy and Charlie moved in," Quinn says. "It shows that it's good to take some chances—include a navy blue range—but keep that timeless feel that's so appealing. When you walk in and immediately want to sit down and have coffee, that's true comfort."

Kitchen designer: Matthew Quinn, from his book Quintessential Kitchens and Spaces, Vol. 2

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