A Bonsai Kitchen Garden in Reston

A lot of considerations go into kitchen design—what kind of cook you are, which tools you need at hand, how you want to store your dishes, and so on.

But this project in Reston caught my eye because its owner not only wanted a sleek new modern design, but instead of a conventional pantry, he needed a spot where he could tend to his collection of bonsai.


“Our client, Michael, has a bonsai hobby but didn’t ask me to accommodate it,” designer Victoria Feldman writes. “It was his wife, Paula. She told me what would be good for her husband.” How sweet of her to be looking out for her husband’s interests!

Victoria borrowed space from the garage to enlarge the interior space just outside the main kitchen. “Michael was excited to see the name of it on my sketch: Mud room/Green Lab. We discussed the sink size and location, metal-mesh shelf design, counter material, new door style and two new windows,” writes Victoria, who worked with Vienna-based Nouvel Kitchens on the project.


The client writes that he was inspired to create bonsai after a visit to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, in 1996. He lived in New York at the time—close to the World Trade Center. Sadly, most of his collection was lost after he and his wife had to vacate their apartment after 9/11 when the building was declared a federal crime scene.

He had rebuilt a collection by the time the couple moved to Reston in 2005. Here’s his description of how this space evolved:

Before we connected with Nouvel, I would place my bonsai in our home office window during the winter, and at the start of spring I would display them on our cocktail deck. It was difficult in the winter to find a place to work on my bonsai and also to display them in a way that we could enjoy them. We thought about getting a greenhouse, but that would have been difficult because we live on a wooded lot and we would have to get an expensive heating system. With Victoria’s genius we now make use of what used to be a junk room for this beautiful modern sanctuary.

Here’s what the “junk room” looked like before:



And Feldman’s sketch to transform the space, which lies beyond the new kitchen she was also designing:


You can see the bonsai room at the back.

The main kitchen as it looks now:



Here’s a parting closeup. And remember, if you don’t have your own bonsai, visit the Bonsai Collections at the United States National Arboretum. It’s such a memorable experience that we made a photo album just for the dozens of photographs my boys and I took on a visit there.