Articles, Case Studies, and the Latest in Home Design

Lake Ellyn Home Realizes It’s Potential

Working with this client was so much fun the first time around, we were thrilled when they called to say they were considering moving across town and might need some help with a bit of design work at the new house. Here is the first kitchen we did for them several years’ ago in their classic Colonial home.

The kitchen in the new house had been recently renovated, but it was not exactly what they wanted, and since the homeowner was not completely sold on leaving her brand new dream kitchen, we got to work seeing what could be done. What started out as a few tweaks led to a pretty big overhaul of kitchen, mudroom and laundry room. Luckily, we were able to use repurpose the old cabinetry and custom island in the remodeling of the new laundry room — win-win!

Here are couple of photos of the kitchen before. I thought we could get more drama with a stronger focal point. In addition, I thought there was a lot of potential to reconfigure the window arrangement so that it felt more congruous to the room.


We started out by re-working all the various windows into one large window, including removing the bay window which jutted out awkwardly over the deck. We worked through a couple minor structural surprises but in the end we got it to work.


For the focal point, we decided on a simple angled custom stainless steel hood which sits in front of a full height Cardiff marble backsplash. Our clients really liked the appliances they had selected from their previous remodel, so we made room for the same ones in this kitchen. We added a long island with a Claro Walnut butcherblock top which was built by a local craftsman. Claro walnut is indigenous to Northern California and can be identified by its engaging swirls and deep color. The homeowners got to hand select the boards for the piece, so it is truly custom.  Here’s a shot of the team putting up the heavy marble backsplash. And a close-up of the walnut top.


The closed island adds additional storage, and a Galley Workstation – a large sink that also acts as prep space – helped to overhaul the functionality of the space.


The same Claro walnut was also used on a custom built-in in the living room.

As part of the remodel, we also overhauled the basement mudroom and laundry room, the only two rooms in the house not finished. Coming from similar circumstances at the old house, the homeowners wanted to have these spaces move-in ready and not worry about remodeling them down the road. As parents of two young girls, it was important for them to have a spot to store equipment, coats and all the “behind the scenes” necessities away from the main part of the house which is a large open floor plan. The existing spaces had great bones and both rooms were very large. Here is a shot of the mudroom before, all cement walls, exposed electric and paneling.




To make the space more livable and comfortable, we laid slate tile on the floor and added a built-in desk area, coat/boot area and some additional tall storage. We also reworked the staircase, added a new stair runner, gave a facelift to the walk-in closet at the foot of the stairs, and built a coat closet. The end result is a multi-functional, large comfortable room to come home to!

Just beyond the mudroom is the new laundry room where we re-used the cabinets and island from the original kitchen.

Here are a couple of before photos for that space.


The new laundry room also features a small powder room that used to be just a toilet in the middle of the room. What is up with those lone toilets? Have you seen them? We see them quite a bit in our remodeling adventures and are still not quite sure what they were originally intended for. 

Here you can see the island from the old kitchen that has been repurposed for a laundry folding table.  The other countertops are maple butcherblock, and the gold accents from the other rooms are carried through into this room. We were also excited to unearth an existing window and bring some light into the room.


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A Transitional Update to a 1980s House

Bobbie & Marty had been in their home since the early 1980’s and decided it was time for some updates. We took on the kitchen, two bathrooms and a powder room.

The layout in the kitchen was functional for them, so we kept that pretty much as is.

Here are a couple of before shots of the kitchen.


The soffit and the pantry really closed in the space, so we removed both of those. We encountered a couple of surprises in the pantry wall, but after a few stressful moments, we figured out a plan to relocate those items. We also eliminated a desk area which now houses a “drop zone” for mail and additional storage.

Bobbie wanted a contemporary-leaning transitional look — nice clean lines with a gray and white palette. Light gray cabinets with a slightly darker gray subway tile keep the northern exposure light and airy. 

transitional gray kitchen remodeltransitional kitchen design in grayBobbie and Marty also purchased some new furniture for their breakfast room and adjoining family room, so the whole space looks completely styled and new! The light fixtures are staggered and give a nice rhythm to the otherwise serene feel. Goodbye linoleum, hello 2018!
transitional eat in kitchen


Here’s the little powder room off the kitchen that we also remodeled. They were not 100% sold on the flooring choice when I first showed it, but now they think it is one of the most interesting features of the design and I agree! I always try to “push” my clients a little bit because that’s when things can get really fun and this is what  you are paying for after all, ideas that you may not come up with on your own.

   Gray Powder Room Great Tile


We also worked on the two upstairs bathrooms. We started first on the hall bath which was basically just in need of a facelift. The floor is porcelain tile made to look like carrera marble. The vanity is white Shaker doors fitted with a white quartz top. We re-glazed the cast iron tub which was a bit of an adventure as the first time the “new guy” from the re-glazing company stored the materials in his truck overnight in the cold causing the finish to bubble after it was applied. Company number two to the rescue and 2nd time’s a charm – now we were looking at what we were expecting.

Simple white bathroom design    white tile shower tub combo


Last but not least, we remodeled the master bath which was a tub to shower conversion. We used a wood look porcelain plank on the main floor along with a Kohler Tailored vanity. The custom shower has a barn door shower door, and vinyl wallpaper in the sink area gives a rich textured look to the space. Overall, we think this looks pretty sophisticated for its smaller fooprint, don’t you?

Small Master Bath Design    Small Master Bath picture

Dining room table and chairs by:  Michele Ranalletta, Interior Designer, Toms-Price