Albany Park Renovation


When we were approached to remodel this Albany Park, it already had a fairly open floor plan and ample space to work with. The kitchen had lots of existing lighting, but the cabinetry and layout were outdated and did not quite meet the practical day-to-day needs of our clients. The clients desired a functional kitchen with lots of storage as well as space to entertain. The previous kitchen did have an area with bar seating, but it was on the outskirts of the kitchen and felt cramped and secluded from the overall dining space. Our in-house designer, Ivana, came up with a fresh design to give the kitchen an open layout that would improve the flow of the home. Read below for details on how she transformed this u-shaped, closed-off area into a seamless, accessible part of the living space.

Can you describe what the design process was like for this project?

Ivana: The previous kitchen design was about thirty years old, so it needed to be updated a lot. There were many issues regarding storage in the existing space. I knew that I had to develop some storage solutions for the clients, so that was my main focus when I started designing this project. The u-shaped kitchen was inhibiting the flow of traffic in the living area. You want guests to be able to walk around comfortably without stepping on toes, so opening up the kitchen as much as possible was a priority as well. To bring the maximum amount of storage to the space, we decided to bring the cabinetry all the way up to the ceiling. This not only gives the clients way more storage than what had existed in the kitchen before, but it also adds height to the room by bringing the eye all the way up. Speaking of creative storage solutions, I decided to convert two existing closets into a pantry. This decision freed up a good amount of cabinet space as well. We added a small prep fridge in the landing for more organizational space. The new kitchen design included more appliances than what the clients previously had, so it was an interesting task to fit them all into the kitchen while also adding storage and not risking functionality. For the hardware in this space, we chose to go with a honey bronze finish to contrast the dark cabinets.

Are there any challenges you ran into when designing the space?

Ivana: There were some challenges on this project. In addition to the challenge of adding extra appliances and storage into the space, we ran into the issue of not being able to do a recessed niche that had been planned because of an unforeseen existing water line. While this is not an uncommon problem to encounter when remodeling a project, it does take resilience, adaptability, and creativity to be able to come up with solutions to work around these issues. When a client is set on something, you try your hardest to make it work. If that thing is not possible, you give them something even better that they didn’t even know they desired in the first place. Incorporating the tile accent over the stove was a bit of a challenge as well. While it is very visually appealing on its own, I had to come up with ways to make it blend into the space and not look like an afterthought. Ultimately, we achieved that by choosing an ornament that brought in multiple colors. It was an intentional decision that the accent included the blue color of the island, the black that exists in the hardware, as well as the white that’s in the cabinetry of the space. By using the same blue color in the rangehood (which contrasts beautifully against the neutral backsplash), we were able to create a stunning focal point in this kitchen. It’s the magic of design!

What was the most fun part of your work on this project?

Ivana: The most fun part of designing this kitchen was adding in all of the details. For instance, choosing the specific style of pendant lighting that would tie in the wall sconces that frame the range hood. Also bringing out the rich blue accent color of the island in other subtle ways throughout the space. The client was very specific about not wanting to go with a basic subway tile, so we went with a cracked gray vintage tile look instead. It’s the incorporation of all of these details that make the clients feel at home in the space.

Any helpful design tips that you would like to share?

Ivana: Yes, and it goes with what I was saying before. The most crucial part of the design process is the smaller details. In regards to this space, you see a lot of meticulous thought put into those intricacies. The lighting in the upper cabinets, while a simple design feature, adds a warmth to the kitchen that is absolutely stunning. You see this warmth carried down all the way to the floor by the brown leather barstools that not only frame the island perfectly but also allow for more entertainment space. Last, but certainly not least, a glass cabinet display was included so that our clients could should off their glassware. The copper mule mugs on display add a nice touch that goes perfectly with the leather seating and warm hardwood floor as well. It is these details in a design that make the space extremely functional while giving it a customized feeling as well. The client wants to feel like you took all of their pain points into account to transform their existing space into a new space that meets all of their needs and more.

Areté is committed to helping you make your dream space a reality. If you are thinking of remodeling your Chicago home or condo, call us at Areté Renovators at 773-610-4551 and let our interior designers work with you to create a design that reflects your own personal style.