Master Design Award Winner

2009 (Fort Atkinson, WI)- Wentworth, Inc. has been named a winner in the prestigious 31st Annual Qualified Remodeler (QR) Master Design Awards Contest. Wentworth, Inc. won GOLD in the Kitchen >$100,000 category.

Sponsored by Qualified Remodeler magazine, the Master Design Awards is the premier
national contest recognizing outstanding achievement in residential remodeling projects in 22 categories. For information visit www.qualifiedremodeler.com.

About the Winning Project
A 1880s, end-unit, brick row house was desperately in need of a new kitchen. The old kitchen had been poorly remodeled in the 1970s and required a complete gutting to the brick walls and floor joists. The homeowners desired a new kitchen that took advantage of views into a newly landscaped rear garden, created a breakfast bar for two, an area for laptops with mail cubbies, and opened the wall between the new kitchen and dining room to make their home more suited to informal living. A rear door was relocated and made taller to suit the new cabinet layout and take-in garden views.

Challenges of this Project

The poor conditions required new framing to make the walls plumb & square, and the narrow space (11’-4” x 14’) required a careful design. The south wall has 12” deep, full height cabinets flanking a counter. A north wall accommodates all appliances, sink, and new casement window. Tight cabinet conditions required that the new rear door be repositioned which also helped with garden views.

Creative Solutions

Careful design accommodates a center island. A cherry counter top distinguishes the island from the adjacent stone countertops. Pendant lighting accents the island and leads the eye to the garden. A 12” deep wall of pantry cabinetry flanks a counter top used for laptops, mail cubbies, and cell phones. The symmetrical design is reinforced with a custom coffered-beam ceiling that accentuates the height and gives panache to an informal space.

Project Results
The overall results are exceptionally well suited to the modestly scaled historic row house. The living spaces now flow front to back – with the kitchen acting as the link to the rear garden and completes the home’s living space. Although a small scale house it now feels spacious. The new kitchen utilizes carefully planned, upscale detailing, that gives the home a sense of understated, practical luxury. All is appropriate.

Creative Solutions

Careful design accommodates a center island. A cherry counter top distinguishes the island from the adjacent stone countertops. Pendant lighting accents the island and leads the eye to the garden. A 12” deep wall of pantry cabinetry flanks a counter top used for laptops, mail cubbies, and cell phones. The symmetrical design is reinforced with a custom coffered-beam ceiling that accentuates the height and gives panache to an informal space.

Project Results
The overall results are exceptionally well suited to the modestly scaled historic row house. The living spaces now flow front to back – with the kitchen acting as the link to the rear garden and completes the home’s living space. Although a small scale house it now feels spacious. The new kitchen utilizes carefully planned, upscale detailing, that gives the home a sense of understated, practical luxury. All is appropriate.


Wentworth, Inc. Honored with Outstanding Award

Washington Spaces Honors Wentworth, Inc. with
Outstanding Award in the Best of Remodeling Competition.

Washington Spaces magazine named Wentworth, Inc. of Chevy Chase, Maryland, the Outstanding Recipient in the Washington Spaces Best of Remodeling Competition, in the category, interiors less than $100,000. The winning project is featured in the summer issue of Washington Spaces magazine.

About the Project
The winning design was a small but integral part of a first floor addition to a 1970s Colonial style home in Potomac, Maryland. Sometimes a small addition makes a big difference. This was the case for the 4’ x 30’ addition on this single family home. The existing narrow kitchen, small breakfast area, and screened porch did not fit the family’s needs. The homeowner requested a new larger kitchen with an island, a mud room with ample storage, and a breakfast space with banquette seating for six. The one-story rear addition made a significant difference in the home’s livability and functionality. The new addition was appropriately sized to maximize the interior space and work with an adjacent back patio.

The client requested an expansion of their kitchen and breakfast room but the addition’s size was constrained by an existing brick retaining wall. A steel beam and intermediate steel column were installed to open up the rear wall. The column was concealed within a new partition with a punched-opening that visually links the kitchen and dining areas.

Creative solutions include enclosing an existing screen porch as a mudroom with a service sink and cubbies. A bay window at the kitchen sink expands the depth of the counter top. Floor to ceiling windows at the breakfast area flood the room with natural light and are integrated with the custom banquette. Exterior stucco-like cladding gives the addition the appearance of a bay.

The four foot addition improves function and aesthetics. The homeowners feel the design achieved more than they had hoped for: breakfast room, kitchen with island, mud room, and improved rear facade. White painted cabinetry, glass cabinet doors, dark gray granite countertops, oak floors, and hip pendant light fixtures will remain functional and stylish for years to come.


A Passion for the Craft

By Bruce Wentworth, AIA

Craftsmanship, and a passion for woodworking, is a wonderful combination to have in a carpenter. This is the fortunate talent for Steven Barnard, Wentworth, Inc’s production manager. Not only does Steven enjoy constructing and supervising our client’s remodeling projects…he loves to spend free time at his home shop creating custom items fabricated from exotic woods. Bowls, trays, ball point pens, and custom home accessories are examples of his craft work. The man knows what he likes.

Three of his recent projects illustrate his attention to detail and creative use of modern tools to fabricate items with old world charm.

Cake Platter
A circular platter, fabricated from a South American wood called Jatoba, has pie-crust scalloping (often called flutes), and is elevated on a turned-base. The wood is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Cherrywood although it is not from a cherry tree. What looks like a hand chiseled flute pattern on the surface of the platter was actually created with a guided router and box core bit. To index the flutes he used an old 40 tooth saw blade with a small strip of ¼” plywood to create the ratcheting system. The flutes were router cut with a box core bit and took forty repetitive passes. The base, turned on a lathe, was made of 70 pieces of wood and glued to form the segmented round base with a flared plinth.

Custom Crown Moldings
Custom moldings are something we frequently need when remodeling older homes. Many of Wentworth’s remodeling projects are for older, often historic, homes with crown molding, base, chair rails, and plate rails being altered that are no longer available as stock catalog items. Steven’s wood working skills make it possible to quickly replicate old moldings without resorting to an expensive private millwork shop with long lead times. A recent project involved alterations to a 1880s Queen Anne residence on Capitol Hill. Because the oversized crown molding was to be painted a Poplar wood was utilized. Poplar strips were glued up as thick lengths of lumber and ripped to size. Using the old molding sample, the profile was traced onto the new wood to determine which of the router bits should be used, and in which order, to replicate the molding profile. All of this was run on a router table at his home shop.

Custom Stair and Newel Posts

A recent project in a small older urban townhouse required that our carpenters build a custom stair and railings. This new stair replaced an existing winder staircase that had been poorly built. Every tread was a different size to fit the tight space. Treads, risers, railing and newels were all custom oak work. These newels were also built by Steven using a lathe along with good eye and hand work.

Remodeling older homes is more complicated than building new. It requires integrating the new and old, and understanding how older buildings were assembled. A carpenter who understands these issues, is able to replicate the old, and has a passion for custom work is an essential ingredient to a successful remodeling project. Wentworth’s remodeling clients benefit from Steven’s technical skill and experience because it reduces cost on custom details, speeds the process, and makes the project fun.


A Custom Painted Floor

By Bruce Wentworth, AIA

Painting your wood floors is a wonderful way to give your home variety and create a custom look. If you keep it simple it can be a cost effective way to enhance your old wood floors. If you want a more refined, detailed look it will cost a bit more.

A recent design problem involved oak floors for a kitchen and adjacent dining room. The kitchen was being remodeled with a new 9’ wide opening to visually link the dining room and gain natural light from the south facing room. Custom mahogany cabinets, and dark gray limestone counter tops, were a dressy touch for the new kitchen. The design dilemma was how to handle the wood floor finish. The homes’ existing oak floor had a medium dark stain - but continuing the stain color into the kitchen did not provide visual contrast with the cabinets; it would have been muddy. And changing to a lighter stain would have looked odd against the existing dark oak floors. Solution: paint the wood floor. Paint provided a natural break from the existing stained oak floors, and a color compliment to the new kitchen cabinets.Of course, once paint was selected we had to decide upon the color and pattern. Without too much agony, a light gray neutral color was selected because it worked well with the gray limestone counter top and complemented the mahogany cabinets. I was fortunate to know Maxine Cohen who had experience with painted floors. I knew that painting a monolithic gray would not suffice – so with the idea of a two-tone gray floor, I prepared several drawings with subtle striated patterns.

Conceptually it is a rectilinear pin wheel; a small rectangle, in a solid gray, placed as the center of the pinwheel, around which a large rectangle and a large square are placed. The square and the rectangle are differentiated by the differing widths of their stripes.

The pattern creates a gentle visual movement on the floor and never feels dead. Maxine made three test mockups to get it just right and cleverly cut rubber squeegees with different size slots (like combs) to create the stripped patterns. It worked like a charm…but took seven days to paint. The long days of taping the pattern, painting, and letting it dry to implement the detailed design was worth it - as the evidence shows.


Preservation Cafe Comes to Cleveland Park

The Cleveland Park Historical Society (CPHS) kicked off their first-ever Preservation Café symposium at the Ardeo restaurant on the evening of April 28, 2009. www.clevelandparkdc.org

Architect, Bruce Wentworth, AIA, was the invited guest speaker at the event which hosted 52 CPHS members. The event focused on several of the residential architectural styles found in the Cleveland Park Historic District. The architectural styles chosen for discussion were: Colonial Revival 1880-1955, Queen Anne 1880-1910, Tudor 1890-1940, Bungalow 1905-1930, Art Deco 1925-1940, and Shingle Style 1880-1900. Each of the styles was illustrated with photos of houses from Cleveland Park photographed by the architect.

An Italianate Style home (circa 1872) was illustrated as the first house restored by Mr. Wentworth more than 25 years ago. Photos represented numerous architectural details; window & door hoods, clapboard, and other architectural details, restored. Mr. Wentworth recently put his survey of residential architectural styles in the DC metro area on line at www.AskTheArchitect.org allowing a wider community to research and identify their own homes period and style.

The evening’s presentation was followed by a Question and Answer period during which time Mr. Wentworth addressed questions from CPHS members about their own historic homes.


Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Legacy Keeps On Giving

By Bruce Wentworth, AIA

The 50th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s death (April 9, 1959) is a milestone for anyone who cares about residential architecture, and an appropriate occasion for me to reflect on his vision and enduring influence. Wright’s personal residence-- “Taliesin East”-- in Spring Green, Wisconsin (near Madison) was a renowned landmark when I was growing up in suburban Milwaukee, and his famous school was nearby. Locals spoke his name with respect, honored that a person of his international stature shared our understated but lovely countryside.

When I was five, my parents decided to look for a family home just outside Milwaukee, and happened upon a contemporary that was inspired by Wright’s ideas: open floor plan, high vaulted ceilings, stone and wood construction. Awestruck, I asked my mother who ‘draws’ these houses? To which she responded “an architect”, “Then that’s what I want to be,” I replied. Afterwards, my mother mentioned Wright’s name often, and I began finding books about his work. That experience—aided by a sand box, tinker toys and building blocks-- set me on the path that eventually led to my career choice.

Throughout the 1950s, Wright’s work completely captured the public imagination. He became the virtual symbol of the notion that architecture can express social progress. Newspapers and magazines exulted in his design for America’s modern art Mecca: New York City’s Guggenheim Museum. I later learned that Wright had resided at the Plaza Hotel while in the city, and even developed an interior design for his suite.

Despite a turbulent personal and professional life fraught with financial ups and downs, Wright enjoyed a long and prolific career. He designed more than 1,100 homes and buildings of which 532 were actually constructed. His contributions to architecture (and social theory) ranged from ‘organic architecture’, the Usonian home, and the Prairie School of design to ‘Broadacre City’, a pioneering experiment in modern urban planning.

How Americans live today has been fundamentally shaped by Wright’s designs and lifestyle concepts. The Usonian home—a simple, rectangular form stripped of unneeded adornment—become the prototype for a futuristic egalitarian structure that sublimely marries form and function. Plans called for a moderate, inexpensive structure of about 1,200 square feet that features an open floor plan, built on a slab with radiant heat, no basement, a carport instead of a garage, no interior trim, no plaster, no gutters or downspouts, and no painting. In essence – a low-cost, perfectly balanced, yet small house that would require minimal maintenance.

Notably, Wright’s Pope-Leighey house (circa 1940) in south Alexandria perfectly illustrates the maestro’s vision. The economy of scale, use of natural materials, and glass walls inviting visual continuum with nature are all in evidence. Clerestory windows provide natural light along with privacy. Solutions are crisply articulated, highly functional and beautiful.

By the time of his death in 1959, at the age of 92, Wright had become internationally known. Still, 50 years after his death Wright’s core ideas still guide our designs, and our thinking.

Let us know how Frank Lloyd Wright has influenced you.


The Luxury of Space

By Bruce Wentworth, AIA

It is a rare occasion when a client has too much space. But it does happen. And this was the case for a recent remodeling project involving a Master Bathroom. The happy homeowner’s are a couple with two small children and a spacious townhouse.

Their circa 1980s home needed an updated master bathroom that utilized the existing space properly and took advantage of a spectacular city view from its fourth floor vantage. Although the existing bath’s space was ample, it was inefficiently arranged, cheaply built, and lacked the aesthetic appeal desired by the homeowner.

The space had several challenges. A south facing wall of glass included a large window and sliding-glass door that lead to a narrow balcony. The spectacular view from the fourth floor bathroom was sacred, but lacked privacy and suffered from hot southern sun. Additionally, there was too much space to properly place all of the bathroom functions in one room adjacent to a wall of glass. Sensible design required that the bath be reconfigured and zoned for functionality.

The design team agreed that the new layout would have ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces to be more practical. The public space, opening onto the master bedroom with double doors, was placed near the window wall with a free-standing sculptural tub so bathers can enjoy the city view. A double-sink vanity, furniture-like with a mirror and over-mantle feature, provides an aesthetic and functional focal point. The large wall visible upon entering the space was enhanced with applied panel moldings and two tone paint colors. The public area’s ample space also accommodates an upholstered bench and a cheval glass mirror. The simple arrangement and ample space feel luxurious. Privacy and sun control are provided for with a wall of sliding louvered panels.

The bath’s smaller, private space was placed behind a new wall. Separated from the public space, by a frosted-glass pocket door, this smaller private area accommodates the toilet and a large walk-in shower stall with a built-in bench. Large scale porcelain wall tile and horizontal bands of glass mosaic wall tile enhance the shower. Linked to this private space is an existing ample sized walk-in closet that allows the homeowner to exit to their bedroom.

Success is measured with a happy client. Aesthetically and functionally the master bath has changed their home for the better. The project is a testament to the importance of a good space plan zoned with public and private spaces. Where else can a homeowner enjoy a view of the Washington Monument while soaking in their tub?

Bruce Wentworth, AIA, an architect and contractor, is the founder of Wentworth, Inc. a residential design-build firm offering architecture, interiors and construction. 240-395-0705 x 100. www.wentworthstudio.com


NARI Honors
Wentworth, Inc.
With National CotY Award

Chevy Chase, MD, April 1st, 2009The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) named Wentworth, Inc. of Chevy Chase, Maryland, the 2009 National CotY Grand Award winner in the category Residential Exterior Under $100,000.
click photos to zoom
Wentworth, Inc. (www.wentworthstudio.com), founded by architect Bruce Wentworth, AIA, is residential remodeling design/build company located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The firm specializes in architectural design and remodeling of older urban homes. Wentworth, Inc. was named 2009 National Contractor of the year (CotY) in the category of Residential Exterior Under $100,000 by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Each year, NARI members from across the country submit their best remodeling work to be considered for the National CotY Awards. The National CotY represents the best in the remodeling and design-build industry across the country.

Wentworth, Inc. was presented the award at NARI’s Evening of ExcellenceSM on March 28 at the Sheraton Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia. The Evening of ExcellenceSM is widely considered to be the premier event of the year in the remodeling industry, and was attended this year by more than 250 of the industry’s elite. Wentworth, Inc. received the Grand Prize award in the category Residential Exterior Under $100,000.


Mary Endres
Wentworth, Inc.
P 240.395.0705 x108

Bruce Wentworth
Wentworth, Inc.
P 240.395.0705 x100


(photos available)


Wentworth, Inc. earns Six NARI Metro DC Capital COTY Awards

NARI METRO DC Honors Wentworth, Inc. With Six Capital CotY Awards

Wentworth, Inc. (www.wentworthstudio.com), a residential remodeling design/build company located in Chevy Chase, Maryland was honored with six 2008 Contractor of the year (Coty) awards from the Metro DC chapter of the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI). Each year, Metro DC NARI members submit their best remodeling work to be considered for the Capital CotY Awards. The Capital CotY represents the best in the remodeling and design-build industry in the metro DC region.

The honors were announced at the 2008 Metro DC NARI chapter’s annual awards banquette, January 24, 2009. Wentworth, Inc.’s awards included two Grand Prizes and four Merit awards:

· Residential Addition under $250,000: Grand Prize

· Residential Kitchen over $150,000: Grand Prize

· Residential Interior $250,000 and under: Merit Award

· Residential Bath $30,000-$60,000: Merit Award

· Residential Kitchen $50,000 to $100,000: Merit Award

· Residential Exterior Specialty Merit Award

Wentworth, Inc., founded by architect Bruce Wentworth, specializes in the design and remodeling of older urban homes. Previously, Wentworth, Inc. has won five Capital COTY awards, for a total of eleven awards in the past three years:

· 2007–Grand Prize—Residential Interiors

· 2007–Honorable Mention—Residential Kitchen

· 2007–Merit Award—Residential Addition

· 2006–Honorable Mention—Residential Kitchen

· 2005–Merit Award—Residential Bath

“These awards are a tribute to the Wentworth, Inc. employees for their expertise and collaboration on every project.” -Bruce Wentworth, AIA

Candice Carver
Wentworth, Inc.
P 240.395.0705 x108
F 240.395.0707


(photos available)


Garden Walls Come First

My garden is the place I come at the end of a day to forget the trials of running my remodeling business, a place to momentarily forget the difficulties of the world, a place to get refreshed. Designed environments should do that.

It took eight years to create the garden at my Northwest, Washington, D.C. home shared with my wife. It is a work-in-progress. Happily, our circa 1920 house was placed forward on its lot, 120' x 55', leaving ample space for a rear garden.

With the help of landscape architect, Mark White, we created our garden’s master plan allowing us to implement work in phases as it was affordable. Getting the design ‘right’ meant building the brick fence first; more than 160 linear feet of it!

DC city zoning laws require that fences be built at, or inside, property lines and not more than 6’ in height from grade. We hired a licensed surveyor to mark our property lines to ensure that placement of our brick fence could not be questioned.

We quickly learned the importance of our garden’s master plan because even the brick fence was too expensive to build all at once and required two phases:

1- The first 100' was built at the south and east in 2001,

2- The remaining 60' at the north side more than a year later.

The fence is the important design element of the garden because it provides closure and the architectural framework for the walled garden. Following our master plan, new planting was restricted to the newly fenced areas.

Visitors are quizzical when they learn we went to the effort to build a brick fence around our garden, until they tour the garden. Fence and plantings act as a couple, working together to complete the experience. The fence blocks the view of a wrap-around alley and with the help of a contained bamboo bed screens an adjacent office building. The enclosure creates a micro-climate, gentle on plants and its brick piers form plinths for cast-stone urns, adding height and enclosure.

For aesthetics I wanted a repeating pattern of brick piers, each capped with 2" thick flagstone, linked by brick walls. The piers are spaced 10' apart which creates visual rhythm but primarily serves a structural purpose to support a thin brick fence. A focal point, at the back end of the garden, was created with a round opening, called a ‘clairvoyee’, and embellished with scrolls of ironwork. The length and height of the brick fence required a structural engineer design a proper footing. For strength and economy a continuous 24"d. x 24"w. reinforced concrete footing was designed for an 8" wide fence, and a 24"d. x 36"w. footing was built for each brick pier (twice the thickness normally specified). The large footing, disliked by the mason because of its size, provided a cost savings because it allowed for less brick with a thin 8" wide wall between piers; whereas smaller piers and footings would have required a 12" thick brick wall. The fence has not settled or cracked in eight years, evidence of a job well done.

As a couple we joke that we’re both a bit introverted and if left alone could become hermits. We entertain often in the garden, which helps overcome our natural inclinations. At the end of the work day there is nothing I like more than to arrive home and walk in the garden. In the warm weather I open the French doors leading to our porch and soak up the lush garden aromas of this little urban oasis. It was all worth it.