May 21, 2020
Designers can see potential clearer than their clients. That was the case for Linc Thelen of Chicago-based Linc Thelen Design, who saw his client’s large living room and the views outside and envisioned a space for both hosting and relaxing together.
Switching Around the Floor Plan
“I thought to myself, this is the room I want to be hanging out in,” said the designer, referring to the living space with its cathedral ceiling and how he thought it was the ideal place for the kitchen.
This was a challenging idea to bring to life, as the original kitchen was located in a quiet corner of the house where entertaining did not make sense. Since the living room was so large, Thelen was able to relocate the kitchen to the far side of the living area and combine the spaces into a great room. This space opens up to an addition, where a dining room, lounge and a three-seasons room were built.
“It was tricky to figure out where the addition was going to be placed and how to design it to be cohesive with the space that was already there,” said the designer, adding that they also added a pool onto the property.
The new master suite was moved to where the original kitchen was – in the secluded corner of the home with expansive views over the yard and the new pool.
Naturally Inspired Design
The client’s main request in the new kitchen was for a gas range. Thelen made it his goal to also create a space with a natural flow and feel ideal for a house full of guests.
“For me, the kitchen is the heart of the home and a gathering space, so I have that in mind when designing,” he said.
Custom rift-cut white oak cabinetry in a minimalist, Euro-style format was used throughout the kitchen. The main sink – done in a matte-black finish – is located on the island, which is topped with matte concrete for a raw and organic appeal. The client’s requested gas range is on the opposite wall and under a large picture window, with nothing blocking the view to the outdoors.
“I wanted clean lines and a large window to look out of, so I went with a downdraft exhaust hood to achieve that,” said Thelen. “They are a bit tricky to design but worth the look we were going for.”
Master Bathroom Sanctuary
For the new master suite, the designer wanted to both create a retreat and bring the outdoors in by putting a large picture window behind the bathtub.
“I wanted the space to be visually beautiful and for it to have an ease about it,” said Thelen. “My client allowed me to be creative and to run with the design.”
Minimalism was part of his strategy for a spa-like space that echoed the kitchen’s open design, including an oversized, curbless shower that felt as open as an outdoor shower. With its neutral palette and simple design, the shower looks simpler to design than it was. However, Thelen wanted a clear view to the bathtub and the outdoors from the entrance of the room next to the shower. To do this, he used a ceiling-mounted, sliding-glass door. Inside, the shower itself is lined with the same concrete tile as the rest of the bathroom floor, which was both an installation tactic and a design strategy.
“Being the architect, designer and builder, there is always something to learn from the trade,” said Thelen. “The installation of a curbless shower is very complex, and it is important to get the right proportions of tile so the angle of the floor is at the right pitch.”
Getting the floor pitch correct is essential to draining the water properly, and this is challenging with small tile. According to the designer, using larger tiles makes the design more interesting and makes it easier to cut the concrete tile on an angle to achieve the right pitch.
“Concrete has come a long way in the last decade; now the finishing is not as porous, and it is not as heavy as it used to be,” said the designer in reference to the large tiles he installed on the shower floor. “It’s a great material to work with and lends to a very cool modern aesthetic.”
Designer: Linc Thelen
Photographer: Jim Tschetter
Appliances and Hood: Thermador
Faucet: Delta Faucet
Island Countertop: Caesarstone
Light fixtures: Lightology
Plumbing Fixtures & Tile: Porcelanosa