Author Archive | Susan Klimala

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

Remastered Master in Glen Ellyn

Kyle and Mindy moved into their house two years ago “in spite of the bathrooms”, intent on remodeling them sometime in the near future. The house is lovely a midcentury ranch set on a sprawling lot. Mindy had saved some photos to Pinterest as inspiration so we set out to put all those pieces together. 

Here are a couple of before picture. Notice all the wasted space in the hallway by the closet? Well, we decided to incorporate that area into the bathroom itself so that we could have extra room for cabinets as well as the light and view from the window to the great outdoors.


Here is a shot of the final space showing how we incorporated the space in the hall.

bathroom design gray

We mixed metals — chrome fixtures and lighting and black hardware and mirrors. We kept the rest of the materials neutral since it’s a smaller space. Mindy and Kyle have this bed (Rejuvenation walnut Perkins bed) so we found a wood that tied in nicely. We originally wanted walnut to match but found this cherry was a better value and a close enough match.

Mindy and Kyle needed storage, so we did a double vanity with a linen cabinet at one end. We installed an acrylic tub with simple white subway tile and a storage niche for shampoo. I think the end result is fresh, clean and functional, don’t you? 

bathroom design cherry cabinets

bathroom subway tile

A Kitchen Focused on Family

Having a space for their teenage kids to hang out after school, study and interact with Mom & Dad was at the top of the list for this remodel. The 1928 home, sits in a lovely Glen Ellyn neighborhood, near downtown and near all the action of the local high school and lake. It’s was a great house with great bones but the kitchen was in need of some TLC. The remodel project had been a long time coming, and since both the homeowners work from home, they had been nervous about disrupting their bustling daily schedules to get the project in motion.

large galley kitchen

Once we had a plan in place, we dug in and got to work. The first step was to remove a non-load bearing wall between the kitchen and dining room. We then reworked the space a bit, eliminating a redundant passage way to the hall, and reworking a closet to allow for a large galley style kitchen and small bar area open to the dining room.

The new kitchen has a small peninsula for the family to have casual meals and for the kids to hang out after school. A window was eliminated to give more space for cabinetry and storage, and another window was made larger to allow for a grander view into the backyard.

large galley kitchen

large galley kitchen

We decided upon a layered approach to this space to provide character appropriate to the older home. White painted cabinetry provides a backdrop for interesting touches such as gray herringbone tile, a reeded farmhouse sink and bronze hardware and lighting.

The bar has its own unique look featuring gray cabinetry with a patterned cement tile backsplash and walnut top. A bar fridge, glass cabinets and baskets for tucking away homework give this little multi-functional area loads of character.

custom dry bar in kitchen

A miniature mudroom area was also added to the dining room so that the new space can be kept neat and tidy.

The stylish result looks both appropriate to the 1928 home and provides loads of functionality for this active family that can now take advantage of every square inch their home.

Historic Wheaton Home Updated for Modern Living

This project started out as a kitchen remodel but ended up as so much more. As the original plan started to take shape, some water damage provided the impetus to remodel a small upstairs hall bath. Once this bath was complete, the homeowners enjoyed the result so much that they decided to set aside the kitchen and complete a large master bath remodel. Once that was completed, we started planning for the kitchen!

old home kitchen remodel

The original kitchen was just large enough to accommodate an island and a separate pantry but felt a little cramped, especially during the weekends when the couple likes to entertain. The primary goal was to maintain the functionality of the current space, but to add some breathing room as well as to provide a view to the homeowner’s side yard and substantial Hosta garden.


The solution was to bump out the space about 10 feet which provided ample room for large pro appliances, a large island for gathering and an upgraded pantry space. It was important to the homeowners to create a space that felt like it belonged in their historic 1866 home in Wheaton. Details such as matching new trim to the existing large custom profiles in the original home and re-purposing an existing door to be used for the new pantry, provided these touches. A large window at the main sink provides that view into the yard and a beautiful focal point for the room.

old home kitchen remodel

old home kitchen remodel

A mix of painted wood and stained cabinetry gives the new kitchen a sense of belonging in the older home, as do the Super White quartzite that has the look of marble, subway tile backsplash, polished nickel lanterns and glass and mirrored doors. The large pantry, filled with custom shelving built to the homeowner’s specifications, stainless steel appliances and the two Galley Workstations – sinks that do double duty as prep space – ensure that not only does the kitchen look great, but also functions in a personalized manner that works perfectly for the occupants.

old home kitchen remodel

Doing the bump out also allowed the opportunity for a small mudroom and powder room right off the kitchen as well as re-arranging some openings to allow for better traffic flow throughout the entire first floor. The result is a comfortable up-to-date home that feels both steeped in history yet allows for today’s style of living.

A Room with a View

This condo in downtown Chicago has amazing views of the city, Soldier Field and the Shedd Aquarium. The client’s goal was to update the inside view to make it more compatible with those looking out.

light & dark modern kitchen

Upper cabinets hanging over the peninsula of the existing kitchen blocked the magnificent view, so those had to go.


The existing layout wasn’t bad but we felt with a few small changes it could be great.


We started by separating the ovens and the fridge so that there was more symmetry and functionality to the design. And we made a more dramatic feature wall along the back elevation to showcase the cooktop area.

light & dark modern kitchen

An existing soffit was extended towards the side door to give it a more intentional look and to provide a more built-in appearance to the new pantry cabinets that were added to the left of the fridge.

light & dark modern kitchen

Semi-custom cherry cabinetry, open shelving, waterfall quartz countertops and Carrera marble backsplash tile give the space a decidedly contemporary feel perfect for city living. Now the cook can easily interact with guests and simultaneously enjoy the incredible views that the space offers.

light & dark modern kitchenlight & dark modern kitchen

Dream Kitchen in Glen Ellyn

white kitchen dark countertops

This Glen Ellyn homeowner came to us, frustrated with the layout and size of their current kitchen, looking for help generating ideas for how to maximize functionality within the constraints of the space. After visiting with them and seeing the home’s layout, I realized that looking at the bigger picture of how they used the entire first floor might bring us some dramatic solutions. We ended up flipping the kitchen and family room and taking down the wall separating the two creating one big open floor plan for the family to enjoy. There is still a visual separation between the rooms because of their different lengths and the overall space now relates nicely to the dining room which was also opened up to both rooms.

white kitchen dark countertops

The new kitchen is an L-shaped space that is no longer cramped and small and is truly a cook’s dream. The fridge is on one end, a large cooktop and sink are located along the main perimeter and double ovens located at the end of the “L” complete the layout. Ample work surface along the perimeter and on the large island makes entertaining a breeze. An existing door to the patio remains, floods the room with light and provides easy access to the existing outdoor deck for entertaining and grilling.

white kitchen dark countertops

White cabinetry with quartz countertops, Carrera marble backsplash tile and a contrasting gray island give the space a clean and modern feel. The gray pendant lights and stainless appliances bring a slight industrial feel to the space letting you know that some serious cooking will take place here.

white kitchen dark countertops

Watch the time-lapse video of this kitchen remodel from beginning to end.

And all in under 1 minute!

Dream Bath in Glen Ellyn

Once we had their Dream Kitchen design completed, the homeowners decided to tackle another project at the same time. We made plans to create a master suite upstairs by combining two existing bedrooms into a larger bedroom, bathroom and walk-in closet. The existing spaces were not overly large so getting everything on the wish list into the design was a challenge. 

designer bathroom

In the end, we came up with a design that works. The two bedrooms were adjoined, one wall moved back slightly to make for a slightly larger bedroom, and the remaining space was allotted to the new bathroom and a walk in closet. The bathroom consists of a double vanity and a large shower with a barn door shower door. A skylight brings light into the space and helps make it feel larger and more open.

bathroom idea

The new walk-in closet is accessible through the bathroom, and we even managed to fit in a small entry vestibule that houses some additional storage and makes a nice transition from the hallway. A white vanity, Carrera tops and gray floor tile make for a serene space that feels just right for this home.

great bathroom

Traditional Transformation

From dark and dated… to bright and beautiful!

 Open almost any design magazine today and you will see tons of examples of contemporary and transitional design. Maybe those designs are appealing, but you’re just not feeling it for your own space or traditional suburban home filled with traditional furniture. Do you still have the option to remodel your kitchen in a traditional style and not have it look instantly dated? The answer is yes! This kitchen is a perfect example of how to do that. Take traditional cabinetry and sprinkle in a few updated accents and voila!

Traditional kitchen remodel with white cabinetry

Traditional kitchen remodel with white cabinetry

Traditional kitchen with white cabinetry remodel

In addition to the look of the space, this 1970’s neo-Tudor home also had a very traditional floorplan which was given new life for today’s living. We eliminated the wall between the kitchen and the (rarely used) dining room which opened up the whole first floor and created the open plan that the homeowners wanted. 

Traditional kitchen remodel with white cabinetry

With the added space, a larger island was added with seating for casual dining. An existing room off the kitchen now works as the main dining area and even houses a fireplace!

Traditional kitchen with white cabinetry remodel

Hardworking quartz countertops were used to keep maintenance easy, and professional style appliances were added for this home cook to really get cooking in the kitchen. An apron sink, Ann Sacks bronze accent tile, green glass pendants lighting and new window treatments transition this kitchen into the current decade!

Traditional kitchen remodel with white cabinetry

Here’s what the client said about her new kitchen remodel:

Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn remodeled our kitchen and powder room. We also had the whole main floor redone in hard wood. The project involved removing a dining room wall and dealing with some messed up floors. Susan helped bring this project to life. I had a very dark dated kitchen with a very small work area. Now it is full of natural light and has a great open floor plan . She was able to mix the dark wood work and beams in my house with light cabinets. They were very professional and their crews were very helpful, since we decided to live in the house thru the remodel. I would recommend them to anyone.  – J.G.


A Contemporary Kitchen with Class

Pedini contemporary white kitchen

This client moved to the area to be near their adult daughter and grandchildren so this new construction is destined to be a place full of happy memories and family entertaining. The goal throughout the home was to incorporate their existing collection of artwork and sculpture with a more contemporary aesthetic. The kitchen, located on the first floor of the 3-story townhouse, shares the floor with a dining space, a living area and a powder room.

contemporary white kitchen beautiful

contemporary white kitchen beautifulThe kitchen is U-shaped with the sink overlooking the dining room, the cooktop along the exterior wall, with a large clerestory window above, and the bank of tall paneled appliances and storage along the back wall. The European cabinetry is made up of three separate finishes – a light gray glossy lacquer for the base cabinets, a white glossy lacquer for the tall cabinets and a white glass finish for the wall cabinets above the cooktop. The colors are subtly different but provide a bit of texture that works nicely with the finishings chosen for the space. The stainless grooves and toe kick provide additional detail.

contemporary white kitchen beautiful

panel refridgerator contemporary white kitchen beautiful  storage in contemporary white kitchen beautiful

The long peninsula provides casual seating and is topped with a custom walnut butcher block waterfall countertop that is 6” thick and has built in wine storage on the front side. This detail provides a warm spot to rest your arms and the wine storage provides a repetitive element that is heard again in the pendants and the barstool backs. The countertops are quartz, and appliances include a full size refrigerator and freezer, oven, steam oven, gas cooktop and paneled dishwasher.

contemporary white kitchen beautiful

This amazing powder room sits just off the kitchen and adds a glam factor all powder rooms deserve. 

contemporary powder room gray

This project was so much fun to work on because we got to collaborate with a terrific homeowner who was open to out-of-the-box design ideas and with one of our favorite designers, Julie Dunfee of Julie Dunfee designs. We love how it came out, don’t you?