February 19, 2018
Today’s modern household is busier than ever, so having well-designed and orderly spaces is essential. One family with a dated kitchen and too many dysfunctional areas turned to designer Scott Dresner of Chicago-based Dresner Design to modernize their space.
“Since the kitchen was added in the 1990s, it really didn’t feel like part of the rest of the house,” said Dresner. “The clients instead wanted an updated look with increased functionality.”
Achieving the Goals
The outdated room was u-shaped and featured low ceilings, cherry cabinetry and mustard-colored walls. Along with improving the overall layout and function of the space, the clients wanted a casual dining area with lots of light, a mudroom and a better use of the butler’s pantry.
“To connect the room to the rest of the house, we suggested opening up the ceiling and adding skylights to match the height in adjoining rooms,” said Dresner, who used AutoCAD to complete the renovation. “Naturally, this made the space feel much bigger and more like the suburban kitchen you would expect in a home like this.”
Dresner’s team then changed the layout from the u-shape to two straight runs with an island in the middle. The resulting kitchen is narrow and long, so they designed a slim island around which traffic can flow. By placing it strategically between the sink and the oven, the island can still be functional for prepping or as a buffet for large gatherings. The butler’s pantry was opened up to the kitchen and put to much better use for a modern household.
“This family did not have a butler,” said the designer, “so being butler-less, we decided to make this area a wine bar.”
This was a last-minute decision by the clients, since they had just started collecting wine. Along with a long countertop for preparing drinks or displaying food, the bar includes upper and lower pantry storage, as well as an undercounter wine refrigerator in stainless steel.
“The client wanted a crisp, traditional, timeless look, so selections were based on this sensibility,” said Dresner.
The team chose simple, white, custom-designed cabinetry and slim, stainless steel hardware. While the perimeter countertops are white quartz, the island breaks up the white palette with a gray quartz countertop. The ceramic subway tile backsplash, which was selected by the clients, connects to the island with its charcoal gray color. All the appliances are stainless steel to complete the transitional look.
While there was an existing mudroom in the home, the family wanted this area to accommodate more than its original capacity.
“It’s a small space, but it had to serve a lot of functions for the whole family – including the dogs,” said Dresner. “I stole room from their five-car garage for the dog shower and to accommodate their washer and dryer.”
Since this space now would function as a pet area, a laundry room and a mudroom, Dresner designed it with organized zones for each activity. There is a place for laundry and storage for laundry supplies; a space to organize book bags, shoes and coats; and an area for the dog shower and other pet necessities.
“My favorite part is the dog shower,” said the designer, explaining that the homeowners have two large dogs. “It’s in the perfect location by the back door, so when wet, muddy dogs come in the house, they can go right into the shower without traipsing all through the house.”
The storage was done in the same white-painted oak cabinetry as the kitchen, and porcelain tile flooring ensures the space is durable and easy to clean.
According to Dresner, the client had a long laundry list of needs but not necessarily the pocketbook to match.
“Before we even got started, we were over budget,” he said. “We tried to stay realistic and respect our clients’ budget while giving them everything they wanted.”
The main savings came from some of the material selections. The backsplash tile came from a discount outlet, and the flooring materials were from a private brand, which is considerably less than competitors’ prices. Another small savings was not doing an enclosed dog shower.
They also used local labor, since the project was in a Chicago suburb about an hour north of the city. This avoided the expenses of city rates and commuting costs for laborers. With the money they had left, the clients were able to splurge on Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances.
“While their budget didn’t match their expectations, the end result did,” said Dresner.
Designer: Scott Dresner, Dresner Design
Photographer: Jim Tschetter
Beverage Center: U-Line
Cabinetry: The Dresner Design Private Label Collection, fabricated by the DeAngeles Family in Italy
Flooring: Designer Stone
Island Material: Silestone Altair
Perimeter Countertop: Silestone White
Undercounter Microwave: Sharp