Apartment kitchen design inspired by the architecture of Chicago

Cabinets shaped like skyscrapers, shelving like a bridge and I-beam supports on the chunky island all evoke features of the city this apartment looks down on

H is for  the end supports on furniture, product, product design, shelf, shelving, table, white
H is for the end supports on the kitchen island are in blued steel and represent the initial of the owners last name. The lustrous steelwork also subtly calls to mind the construction beams that are such a signature element of Chicago. Rich, coffee-stained walnut floors help to ground the entire cityscape design and this is repeated as trim on the bottom of the kitchen island.

Not every kitchen is shaped by a scramble for tight work triangles, task lighting and storage. Sometimes, along with day-to-day functionality, an artistic, individualistic aesthetic holds sway.

This elegant kitchen by Chad James of Chad James Group was inspired by the skyline, bridges and architecture of the city it looks out on.

"The project is centred around the Chicago sunset, with its grey, moody sky, golden streetlights, and the architecture and atmosphere that is indicative of the city," says James. "Chicago is also known for its ongoing construction and steel beams and these are evoked in the steel I-beams in the shape of an H that support the island. The H is a personalised element, being the owners' last name initial. These bold frames have been blued with a welding torch for effect."

The designer says the concept for the island's chunky top came from a truffles counter he saw in a Paris Chocolatier's another big city link.

Rustic touch  on this elegant kitchen design cabinetry, countertop, cuisine classique, floor, flooring, hardwood, home, home appliance, interior design, kitchen, room, wood flooring, white
Rustic touch on this elegant kitchen design by Chad James, the island and some cabinet fronts are in a hand-crafted timber baton finish which has been glued together then sanded back, leaving the lines visible.

Behind the island, double cabinets rise up from the perimeter countertop like skyscrapers made of glass and steel. These are in translucent glass so the cabinets' contents are downplayed.

A substantial steel shelf that runs between the cabinets represents the many bridges nine in total that crisscross the Chicago River.

Rising above this shelf, a hand-made mirror created using the traditional mercury-backed method throws an elegant, rippled reflection. Virtually a piece of art in its own right, this adds to the modest-sized apartment's sense of space.

However, while the design has a refined feel, James balanced this with a few rustic touches.

Steel I-beams in the shape of the letter countertop, cuisine classique, home, interior design, kitchen, room, white
Steel I-beams in the shape of the letter H the owners last initial feature on this kitchen island.

"Some of the cabinet fronts have a hand-built quality. These were created with glued-together timber battens which are sanded back evoking the sense of craftsmanship at a glance."

As is typical in big city apartments, space was at a premium. In response, the kitchen has an interwoven connection with the living areas. For example, the steel shelf on the kitchen's rear wall carries objects and photographs that would more typically be seen in a living space.

"In addition, I wanted a comfortable, cosy, and convenient setting for the family to gather in and take in the city views while meals are being prepared hence the relaxed living space furniture to the side below the window."

James also added two sconces in front of the mirror in the kitchen to bring a level of ambient light that wouldn't overwhelm the wider space.

Credit list

Interior design and kitchen design
Chad James, Chad James Group
Painted birch in White Dove by Benjamin Moore and blue-flamed steel, and painted steel – custom-designed by Chad James Group
Kitchen sink
Oven, microwave
Expresso Stained Walnut from American Flooring
Wall mirror
Hand-blown glass with traditional mercury backing
Harold O Schulz
Countertops and splashback
Calacatta Gold
California Faucets
Dining furniture
Banquette and chair by Hickory Chair; tables from Restoration Hardware

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Alyssa Rosenheck

22 Dec, 2016

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