July 25, 2019

An empty nester couple found that while the new home they bought had updated finishes, the layout and storage in the kitchen was far from what they needed. They turned to designer Laura Barber, AKBD, of Chicago-based Normandy Remodeling to redesign the kitchen so it was more suited to their lifestyle.

“Although the general products in the original space were attractive, the layout was very challenging,” she said, explaining that the kitchen was cut off from the living and dining room, and the clients had a large mix of specialty appliances that took up cabinet storage space. “The homeowners enjoy large family gatherings, and it was difficult to interact with guests while working in the kitchen.”

Floor Plan Issues
One of the main issues in the space was the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining and living room, and simply removing most of that wall significantly changed how this space could be used. With the wall gone, the large, central island the homeowners wanted was possible.

“This island was key to this design and dictated the general layout and placement of appliances,” said Barber, who used 2020 for the kitchen design and layout and AutoCAD for architectural plans.

There is still a partial wall between the kitchen and living room, which provides a space for a coffee and tea center on the living room side as well as additional storage on the kitchen side. The range was relocated from the former divisive wall to the long wall across from the island. The refrigerator was placed on the far end near the sink for convenience for the cook as well as easy access for guests to retrieve items without crossing through the work zone.

Most of the specialty appliances can now be stored in the new island. The wife loves to bake with her grandchildren, so the island is equipped with these small appliances, her cookbooks, a lift-up mixer cabinet and a trash bin for easy clean up. The large drawers facing the dining room provide convenient storage for table linens and serving pieces.

Natural Inspirations
While the finishes in the original kitchen were relatively updated, the new layout called for a more customized look that catered more specifically to these homeowners. Since one of their goals was to have more natural elements in the design, Barber found the perfect muse in the existing 12-ft.-high, two-sided stone fireplace in the living area.

“This fireplace led the homeowners toward a crisp, white classic cabinet paired with natural, textural elements inspired by the stone fireplace,” said the designer. “The end result is a space that is casually elegant.”

These simple cabinets around the perimeter pair well with a white ceramic backsplash and white quartz countertops, which were also chosen for their cleanability. Meanwhile, the island contrasts the perimeter with gray-stained oak cabinets and a quartzite called Fantasy Brown.

“The Fantasy Brown quartzite island countertop was a splurge with a flowing, natural pattern that pulls in the earth tones as well as soft blues and green tones found throughout their home,” said Barber. “It’s like the stone was made for their home.”

Oversized ceiling fixtures in a bronze finish add another level of interest to the island and tie into the other fixtures in the home, while new can and undercabinet lighting bring more function into the kitchen. Polished-nickel hardware also introduces a touch of refinement to the space.

“I loved working with these customers,” said Barber. “This project was truly life changing for them, and it makes me happy to know how much they enjoy and love their new space.”

Source List

Designer: Laura Barber, AKBD, Normandy Remodeling
Photography: Normandy Remodeling

Backsplash Tile: Quintessenza
Bar Faucet: InSinkErator
Bar Sink & Faucet: Kohler
Cabinetry: Private Label
Dishwasher: Bosch
Range: GE
Refrigerator: Electrolux
Sink: Blanco

More Projects

Midcentury Home Update

Originally built in the 1950s, this authentic midcentury house needed a course correction in its kitchen and bath design.