Local Design Studio Updates Kitchen to Accommodate Child with Down Syndrome

Local Design Studio Updates Kitchen to Accommodate Child with Down Syndrome

Dream Kitchen on H Street

Sunflower Bakery has a special mission to train young adults with disabilities in pastry arts and hospitality. Its Executive Director gives VIP a tour of the kitchen that was recently transformed by Vita Lucia Design Studio to accommodate her 14-year-old son with Down syndrome.

story by  Angela Lutzker

photography courtesy of   ANDREA GOLDEN


As consummate entertainers, foodies and the parents of two growing children, Jody Tick and Curtis Elmendorf make constant use of the kitchen in their H Street Corridor home. But in as much as they utilize the space, it wasn’t quite working for their needs.

Jody has a long career involving food. She spent 15 years as a top executive for the Capital Area Food Bank and is now the executive director at Sunflower Bakery in Rockville, Maryland, which has a special mission to train young adults with disabilities in pastry arts and hospitality. At home, she and Curtis share a passion for cooking and spending time with their children, which, over time, made a kitchen renovation high on their to-do list. After deciding it was finally time to take the leap into the chaos of having their kitchen torn apart and rebuilt, they enlisted the combined expertise of contractor Cornelle Smith and DC area interior designer Angela Lutzker. Cornelle is the owner of CBS Design Development Group, LLC, while Angela is the founder and principal designer at Vita Lucia Design Studio as well as a childhood friend of Jody’s.


There were, of course, some non-negotiables for the new kitchen. For starters, they wanted it to suit entertaining family and friends, offer adequate storage and, most importantly, accommodate their love of cooking and baking with their two sons. To make this possible, the kitchen needed to be adapted for their 14-year-old son with Down syndrome so he could work in the kitchen independently. Regarding aesthetics, the couple wanted to respect the architecture of their 1911 home while incorporating modern elements that aligned with the design style throughout the rest of the home.

It was important to Jody and Curtis that the original tin ceiling was kept, as it was one of the very features that made them fall in love with the home. Painting the tiles white maintained them while giving them a refreshed look that ties into the design of the new space.


Seating was also key. The new design includes counter stools at the center island and a cozy nook with a banquette near the window. Creating the new banquette required the removal of the pantry wall, which also uncovered the only exterior window, bringing much-needed natural light into the room. Above the banquette, a drop ceiling with recessed lighting was retained to avoid perforating the tin ceiling. New pendants over the island and under-cabinet lighting add to the illumination and offer the perfect amount of light.

Adding visual interest and texture to the kitchen flooring is a timeless, handmade Saltillo tile that almost didn’t arrive in time for installation. Matte black Shaker style cabinetry is contrasted by the natural wood of the island, banquette seating and newly built hutch, which pays homage to the home’s original hutch and also provides a showcase for heirloom glassware. A new quartz counter and backsplash offers a low maintenance, beautiful and durable surface for the family’s many adventures in cooking and baking.


As close as the relationship is between Jody and Angela, this project is naturally a personal one for Angela. Over the years, she has developed a system for determining all the functional needs and aesthetic preferences of her clients, but Angela's personal knowledge of Jody and Curtis gave her unique insight into the couple's needs, priorities and vision. Making the collaboration even more seamless, there is a common love of historic architecture, appreciation for combining antiques and handmade items with modern furniture and accessories and a passion for truly personalizing a home. The kitchen renovation was the perfect example of all three.  The new space is one that Jody and Curtis can envision enjoying for years to come.

For more design inspiration, visit Vita Lucia Design Studio at www.vitaluciadesignstudio.com.


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