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Chicago Kitchens Take the Spotlight

Chicagoland designers showcased special kitchens all while supporting a worthy cause.

authors Kim Berndtson 

Designers who have an opportunity to participate in showhouses are often rewarded twofold. They not only get to showcase their design abilities to visitors who tour the homes, they also get to contribute to a worthy cause.

Recently, several Chicagoland designers participated in the New Moms’ 33rd Annual Kitchen Walk. The yearly event raises money to support the organization’s mission of interrupting the cycle of poverty by providing housing, job training and supportive services to young mothers and their children in need.

This year’s tour featured 10 newly renovated kitchens showcased in a variety of styles and budgets in the Oak Park and River Forest areas, several of which are spotlighted here. Selected by a committee of designers and architects for their innovative, attractive and purposeful design, each offers a unique character and story.

REVISITING THE PAST

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

One such kitchen with a storied background was a remodel from the first-ever Kitchen Walk 33 years ago, where Rosanne McGrath of Studio M Architects transformed the outdated ’80s design in the circa 1920 Charles White designed home.

The new kitchen features white cabinets built to match those used in the original butler’s pantry. Upper cabinetry is limited, leaving space for shaded sconces and open walnut shelves to display everyday glassware as well as the children’s artwork. A dish cabinet resembling a hutch is accented with harlequin beveled glass doors to match the living room windows. McGrath accented the cabinets with a mix of globe pulls inspired by the home’s crystal doorknobs and vintage antique brass hardware. She topped them with marble, which shines under a trio of globe pendants that hover over the island.

DUAL DESIGNS

Rebekah Zaveloff, KitchenLab Design, created two kitchens on this year’s Kitchen Walk. The first showcases a collection of unique furnishings and architectural elements gathered by the homeowners who stored them in the garage of their 130-year-old Victorian home for over a year in anticipation of the transformation that included removing the 1990s honey-colored cabinets and drywalled soffits.

The use of customized antique pieces instead of traditionally fitted cabinetry provides a more individual, timeless feel, notes the designer. The island began as a much longer fixture from a French department store, but Zaveloff shortened it, added table legs to one side and topped it with marble. She also converted the pull-out bins to cabinet doors for storage.

Another piece, a large hutch behind the island, was originally used in a doctor’s office. Now it holds fine glass, serving ware and cookbooks. Additional antique elements, such as the original ship cargo lights, were sourced by the homeowners to add special interest.

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

To create an open feel, she used open shelves instead of upper cabinets. A pot rail offered cost savings as well as timeless appeal, while the range, unlacquered brass faucet and soapstone counters were the homeowners’ splurges.

Architectural details, such as the trim and rosette block patterns, echo details used throughout the rest of the home.

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Cooking is serious business in the second kitchen Zaveloff designed, since it is where the winner of the 2016 MasterChef Junior television show prepares food for the family. As such, the designer included a second sink with fitted inset accessories in the island, which she topped with marble. The end of the island appears as a separate entity since she dropped it several inches and topped it with walnut. Silverware drawers and an open storage shelf below enhance storage.

A pot filler and custom hood in matte black with brass fitting complement the eight-burner Blue Star range, she adds.

An additional goal of the space was to strike a balance between a casual West Coast lifestyle and the classic charm of the 1918 French Provincial style home. To fulfill that mission, Zaveloff used a three-sided white brick fireplace as a transition between the kitchen and new dining room. She carried the brick onto an adjacent wall that borders the family room. Doors leading to the deck are painted black on the inside to match the shutters on the home’s exterior, she adds.

FINDING MORE SPACE

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Davi Bosi designed a new kitchen for homeowners who wanted an open gathering area and more storage for their 1903 American Foursquare home. Starting with the demolition of a non-original family room and porch, he created an elegant and functional kitchen and family room complemented with smooth transitions to the original home. The addition also made room for a new butler’s pantry, powder room and walk-in pantry, he notes. A palette of cool greys and white gives a nod toward the coastal style of the family’s New England roots.

The kitchen’s 12′ island seats five and is topped with soft white and gray quartz. In contrast, the range is flanked by sueded black granite that is accented by a high-gloss subway tile backsplash and dual built-in spice cabinets. Cabinetry, in a combination of light grey and charcoal, includes select upper cabinets with panels of vintage wavy glass and decorative mesh.

MINIMALIST BACKDROP

The feel of a New York City loft served as inspiration for the kitchen designed by James Butler. The sleek, minimalist design is a perfect backdrop for the homeowners’ contemporary art collection, he notes.

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

A custom, slate-colored wood armoire with tall, single-panel glass doors encases nearly an entire wall and serves as storage for dishes, cookware, wine and bar accessories. It contrasts with the bright white island and perimeter cabinets and subway backsplash tile that gives the room an open, spacious look. Quartzite countertops on the island feature subtle grey veining against a white backdrop and are finished with waterfall edges. A linear pendant floats above and reflects the island’s horizontal line.

Likewise, a simple linear hood hovers above the inset induction cooktop. To maintain a contemporary look, the designer eliminated cabinet hardware on the base cabinets and added low-profile cubes in brushed nickel to the upper cabinets. A paneled refrigerator is supplemented by freezer drawers in the island.

CHANGING PLACES

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Photos: Mark Wright Photography

Denise Hauser shifted spaces within this South Oak Park home’s floor plan to provide a much better use of space. The kitchen, which formerly was home to an awkward eating space, now provides an open view to the family room where the couple’s two young sons play, while the former kitchen was turned into a long butler’s pantry.

Aesthetically, Hauser gave the new space a soft, industrial-vintage vibe that provides a smooth transition from the traditional bungalow style to modern appliances and conveniences.

Painted grey cabinets combine with quartz countertops placed at a custom height for tall cooks. Contrasting grout between the subway tile complements the hood and other stainless elements, Hauser notes, while the wall rail system above the range keeps frequently used utensils, knives and spices at hand.

Nearby, a metal cabinet under the stairs stores dishes. Its walnut top ties in with the walnut that tops the unique circular cabinet placed at the end of the island, which is used for storing pots and pans. ▪

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