Near North Remodel


This stunning living space remodel in Near North boasts the perfect blend of neutral tones. The black farmhouse sink and range hood are married seamlessly with the touches of black fixtures featured throughout the kitchen. The bold copper pendant lights dance perfectly above the spacious white island, bringing immense warmth to the space. White flat paneled cabinets rest above light natural wood color cabinets. The under-cabinet lighting serves both functional and aesthetic purposes as it cascades down the beautiful white slab backsplash.

To tie everything together, the light wood flooring that spreads from the kitchen to the living room also spans up the newly remodeled staircase. This draws the eye vertically as well, making the already open space feel even more expansive. A refinished fireplace serves as the perfect focal point for the living area, as well as an essential element to any Chicago home during the course of those long winter months. Our clients chose to get the most out of their mantle by displaying a colorful array of books, making the fireplace both an architectural gem and a conversation starter.

Our in-house designer, VasilkaTodorovska, is traditionally drawn to projects that include eclectic elements. This project was no exception! Below, we go into great detail about her experience mapping out her vision for the space. We touched on the challenges that it entailed, as well as the adaptability that it takes to be a successful designer.

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

Vasilka: The original idea was for the kitchen to be primarily dark gray, but because of the style of cabinetry being discontinued due to supply chain issues, we had to pivot and adjust the design plans accordingly. As a designer, you must be both adaptable and versatile when it comes to your ideas with each project. You never know when an issue may arise that is completely out of your control, and being open to editing your design plans is key! While I had planned to go with a completely industrial design for this project, we ended up choosing a hybrid of contemporary and industrial elements. We kept the copper pendant lighting and leather barstools but chose lighter cabinetry to complement and brighten up the space.

Could you describe your design work on the kitchen?

Vasilka: The kitchen is a very eclectic mix of contemporary and industrial elements. The building has a mid-century modern feel, so I definitely wanted to stay true to that during the design process. When designing a space, you never want to clash with the character that the building already possesses. The flooring in the space was initially a dark espresso/maple stain, so we stripped it and stained it an ash blonde color to marry seamlessly with the cabinetry. Another way we were able to bring an industrial feel to the space was through the hardware we selected. By going with a matte black sink and faucet, as well as cabinet hardware, we were able to create lots of contrast within the space.

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

Vasilka: Yes, absolutely. I already mentioned the supply chain issue. Aside from that, the original layout of the kitchen was very challenging to transform to the end product. The kitchen layout was not functional at all, and my goal was to create the perfect working triangle. We had to move a lot around in order to achieve that. I had also planned to move the soffit above the stove to carry the cabinetry all the way up to the ceiling, but we found that due to an existing pipe being there, it wasn’t possible. The logistics of relocating the range hood for the stove was a bit difficult as well. Oh, and the island! Many people don’t realize that there is code that requires a kitchen island to have outlets in this city. We also located the microwave in the island to optimize storage space. To make this possible, the flooring had to be removed to run the electrical under it. Luckily, the client had the budget to redo the flooring. We recommend that clients plan on remodeling the entire room at once because of issues like this. In this remodel, walls were relocated to get the desired layout. Had we not had the budget to redo the floor, this would’ve caused scarring and inconsistencies in the hardwood that wouldn’t have been aesthetically pleasing.

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

Vasilka: I would have to say that the most fun part of this design was blending the updated kitchen design with the existing architecture. The space had a fireplace as well as French windows that were pretty traditional, and these items had to stay in the space. I was tasked with the challenge of giving them a refresh that made sense with the new look and feel that I wanted to give the client. We chose to update the existing black fireplace by painting it white and replacing the existing granite tile inset with marble tiles. To give it a finishing touch, we painted the walls white to obtain a cohesive blend of all of the architectural elements that exist within the space.

Any helpful design tips that you would like to share?

Vasilka: Yes. If you are looking to refresh an existing traditional fireplace, painting it and replacing the existing tiles will give you a lot of bang for your buck! Also, muting down loud colors in a space helps bring more shape overall. Being strategic about color placement is key. We replaced the old limestone with clean, neutral colors to give the space a contemporary, luxurious feel.

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 Arete’ Renovators at 773-610-4551 and let our interior designers work with you to create a design that reflects your own personal style.