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Sycamore and steel

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Contrasting materials – one warm, one cool – give this integrated kitchen and small family area a harmonious balance


When you have lived in a house for a quarter of a century, you get a pretty good idea about what works and what could be better.

The owners of this late 1950s ranch house knew the functionality would be greatly improved if the kitchen could be made larger to incorporate a small family area. Consequently, the couple commissioned architect Todd Main of Main Architecture and interior designer Shelly Handman of Handman Associates to come up with a plan.

"The previous kitchen was small, with an equally small dinette," says Main. "The owners wanted a much larger space where the extended family, including grandchildren, could gather, cook and relax."

To create the space needed, walls between several small rooms were removed. The original kitchen, a maid's room, pantry, a small bathroom and a courtyard space between the garage and house were absorbed into the new room.

A large steel beam now supports the roof, in place of the structural walls that came down. Main also added a large skylight, which was a last-minute request from the owners, who wanted to maximize the light in the room.


Sleek sycamore cabinetry is contrasted by smooth stainless steel doors on the cooking center, which is the focal point of the space. Handman says the visual warmth of the wood balances the cool, semi-industrial feel of the steel and the commercial-grade hood, which sits above a 12-burner cooktop, griddle and grill.

"It's a tailored contemporary look with a lot of softness that fits with the rest of the house."

Handman says the kitchen was also designed to meet the needs of one of the owners, who is an excellent cook and likes to bake.

"She has assigned different functions to each of the three sink areas. The sink within the stone countertop near the ovens is for floral arranging, while the sink on the island is for food prep, and the sink by the window is the cleanup area."

Storage is also positioned right where it is needed – there are refrigerator drawers for vegetables and produce within the island, for example. And large banks of cabinets on the rear wall accommodate the owner's extensive collection of plates and platters.

Cabinetry also conceals a pull-out computer desk, which functions as a secondary office, and a television beside a cozy lounge corner.

Credit List

Bar stoolsLynn bar stools from Andreu World upholstered in Charles McMurray contract leather from Neill and Company
BanquetteBrusic Rose; upholstered in IZIT leather from Willow Tex and Trivium textile by Bernhard Design
Pendant lightNew Metal Crafts
ShadesExquisite Draperies
SinkFranke EuroPro from Hydrology
FaucetsGrohe Ladylux3 in Sarlight Chrome from Hydrology
Ovens and microwave ovenDacor
VentilationAvenue Metal Manufacturing Co
DishwashersMiele integrated
Cabinet hardwareHäfele
CabinetryNatural figured sycamore by Bolhuis Woodworking Co; stainless steel by Avenue Metal Manufacturing Co
CountertopsJerusalem limestone island and backsplash by Murphy Marble Co; stainless steel top by Avenue Metal Manufacturing Co
Backsplash panelCustom Kubis Panel System (KPS) by Heltzer Incorporated
FlooringPompignan Castlestone limestone by Rossi USA Corp
Kitchen tableEnglish trestle table with antique distressed bar top finish from Melvin Wolf
Dining chairsPhuket rattan from Nancy Corzine
Remodeling architectTodd Main, Main Architecture (Chicago, IL)
Interior designerShelly Handman, Handman Associates
BuilderT&T Construction
Cabinet companyBolhuis Woodworking Co
PaintingMaster Finishes

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