Back to the future modernist kitchen

Modern kitchen by Julia Buckingham Edelmann
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Crisp simplicity defines this contemporary kitchen in an historic home.

What's on the outside doesn't always hint at what lies beyond, especially if a house has a historical character dating back more than a century.

For example, this house, built in the 1870s, has a traditional Italianate Victorian architectural style in keeping with the historic Chicago neighborhood. But because homes are not museum pieces, but rather places where a family can live and entertain, the extensively remodeled kitchen is contemporary in both its look and its functionality.

Designer Julia Buckingham Edelmann, who designed the interior as well as the kitchen with Vinci Hamp Architects says this was one of the most modern projects she has worked on; in one of the oldest buildings.

"Vinci Hamp gutted the entire interior, right down to the shell, and rebuilt with reverence and respect to the original footprint," the designer says. "The kitchen is in the same place as the original, but we have doubled the amount of cabinetry. We have retained the high ceilings, tall windows and wide openings into the adjoining family room and formal dining room, so the interior of the house is still grand in its scale and proportion."


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Crisp simplicity defines this contemporary kitchen in an historic home.

Edelmann says the owners undertake philanthropic work in the community, and love to entertain they are often involved with fundraising. So the kitchen needed to be large enough for several people to work simultaneously.

In addition to the perimeter cabinetry,which accommodates a sink, there is a large island with a second sink for food preparation and plenty of counter space.

"We chose a sapele wood veneer for the cabinets, which is a cousin to mahogany," says Edelmann. "This is a beautiful, highly grained wood. The flush cabinets let the grain create the visual impact there are no panels or mouldings to detract from the crisp, architectural look."

The modern aesthetic is also enhanced by the honed, square-edged Absolute Black granite countertops, and by an unconventional chain window treatment.

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Crisp simplicity defines this contemporary kitchen in an historic home.

"Rather than opting for traditional drapes, we chose to suspend multiple chains from a rod in front of the windows. The effect is a little sculptural. The chains define the windows and provide a little privacy, but don't obstruct the picturesque view into the side yard."

Steel bar stools and sculptural steel and glass light fixtures reinforce the modern look of the kitchen. In the dining room, the Modernist look is evoked by Christian Liaigre seating, and by a light fixture from Germany. This is suspended from a decorative ceiling medallion.

Mar 05, 2014
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