Written by Rebecca Christian
Photography by Werner Straube
Produced by Hilary Rose & Jo Ann McVicker
Kitchen designer Mick De Giulio designed a series of stunning kitchens in the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Chicago. All are rendered in his inimitable classic modern style.
As in all of his projects, Mick approached this showhouse believing that the kitchen should become a personalized reflection of each owner’s unique taste and style. Here, Mick discusses his visions for the Ritz-Carlton residences.
TH: How did you anticipate the needs and desires of future homeowners when designing these kitchens?
MDG: One thing we talked about early on with the developers, marketing people, and designers for Prism Development was that we wanted something that would be a modern classic. This is precisely what Lucien LaGrange did with the buildings—very contemporary but also classic. It’s interesting that they came to me just as my BeauxArts.02 line from SieMatic was rolling out, because it was the perfect melding of modern and classic. They recognized that immediately. I think it’s a style that has years to it—ten years out, it will still look fantastic because it’s clean, simple, not overdone, and not underdone. All of the units have BeauxArts kitchens. It’s the standard for the Ritz.
Sometimes developers will wait and let people decide what finish they want. But here, they said, ‘Let’s do something that’s great, a modern classic that’s going to look good in every case.’ I tried to imagine if the people who would buy these units came to us and said they wanted to do a kitchen—what is it they would want to end up with? The intention was to have a great kitchen space, one that people wouldn’t look at and think ‘I have to change this’ or ‘I’d like to upgrade.’ So far, very few changes have been done by anybody. It’s been very successful.
TH: You have a great talent of using the perfect finish and high-quality materials in just the right place. How do you determine which elements will perfect a space?
MDG: Something we talked about was not doing a plain, flat, austere kind of kitchen, but something that has depth and dimension. Most of the finishes are lacquer, but there are also some wood finishes, and everything has sculpting to the doors, some detail or relief. We used classic stainless steel for the hoods throughout. The developers, Prism, chose all the stone, and we coordinated the colors of the stone along with colors and finishes for cabinets. Cabinets range from wood finishes to a soft magnolia white, and also amaranth (a beautiful taupey finish), dark walnuts, and a honey walnut finish. Countertops are marble and granite; some of them are white, some oyster pearl. We put tray dividers in, pullouts for trash, pots and pans—everything is outfitted as though people would buy the unit from us. No cut corners. We used all Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, Miele dishwasher—everything is top-of-the-line. People expect the highest quality and all the amenities in the interiors.
TH: How did the original architecture of the unit impact your design?
Along with the developers, we wanted to maintain the same level of amenities, like the sculpting of the ceiling with crown molding and detailing so that the kitchen is integrated with the rest of the apartment. Usually, developers don’t put in the same level of detailing in the kitchen.
The A-unit is my favorite because you’ve got an island, a great area for the sink, the range, refrigeration, and a little area for a table. But it varies with every unit. I think there are 13 different floor plans, and sometimes you can put in a table, sometimes there’s countertop seating—each one is customized.
Builder: Prism Development Co., 625 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60611; 312/782-6700, prismcompany.com.
Kitchen designer: Mick De Giulio, De Giulio Kitchen Design, 1121 Central Ave., Wilmette, IL 60091; 847/256-8833, degiulio.org.
Flowers: H. Bloom, 312/846-1194, hbloom.com.
Countertops and backsplash (Maroon Cohiba Granite with polished finish): Acorn Tile Co., 773/463-5608.
Range (by Wolf): Sub-Zero/Wolf, 800/222-7820, subzero-wolf.com.
Range hood (Stainless Steel); refrigerator (De Giulio Collection/Ebony Walnut Gloss with Polished Nickel hardware): De Giulio Kitchen Design, 847/256-8833, degiulio.org.
Sink: Julien, 800/461-3377, julien.ca.
Flooring (white oak, Oleostrong finish with UV-cured acrylic): Margaritelli by Listone Giordano, listonegiordano.com/usa.