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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

Remodeling architect Todd Main, Main Architecture (Chicago, IL)
Interior designer Shelly Handman, Handman Associates
Builder T&T Construction
Cabinet company Bolhuis Woodworking Co
Painting Master Finishes
Cabinetry Natural figured sycamore by Bolhuis Woodworking Co; stainless steel by Avenue Metal Manufacturing Co
Countertops Jerusalem limestone island and backsplash by Murphy Marble Co; stainless steel top by Avenue Metal Manufacturing Co
Backsplash panel Custom Kubis Panel System (KPS) by Heltzer Incorporated
Flooring Pompignan Castlestone limestone by Rossi USA Corp
Kitchen table English trestle table with antique distressed bar top finish from Melvin Wolf
Dining chairs Phuket rattan from Nancy Corzine
Bar stools Lynn bar stools from Andreu World upholstered in Charles McMurray contract leather from Neill and Company
Banquette Brusic Rose; upholstered in IZIT leather from Willow Tex and Trivium textile by Bernhard Design
Pendant light New Metal Crafts
Shades Exquisite Draperies
Sink Franke EuroPro from Hydrology
Faucets Grohe Ladylux3 in Sarlight Chrome from Hydrology
Ovens and microwave oven Dacor
Ventilation Avenue Metal Manufacturing Co
Refrigeration Sub-Zero
Dishwashers Miele integrated
Cabinet hardware Häfele

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