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Classic Kitchen Tailored for Entertaining

Vintage theater light fixtures and unexpected modern accents add playful punches to a classic backdrop

Written by Amy Elbert
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  • Werner Straube

    Homeowner Sarah Nolan

    “Sarah entertains on steroids,” says Chicago designer Julia Edelmann. “She can have 50 people over in a heartbeat.” A high-octane mother of four, Sarah Nolan hosts holiday open houses, school and neighborhood gatherings, and pre-prom dinners for up to 80 teenagers. “I love to cook and have people in my home,” Sarah says. “I’m so fortunate to have this gorgeous house. If you have a big house, you might as well share it.”

    Sarah bought her Winnetka, Illinois, home when it was in the final stages of construction, and quickly partnered with Edelmann to choose finishes and accents that would personalize the spaces.

    “Sarah loved the quality of the construction and details, but she likes more modern designs and wanted the house to reflect her unique style,” Edelmann says. “This entire project was about taking a builder house and making it very personal.”

    Sarah Nolan with one of her dogs, Charlie Parker.

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Produced by Hilary Rose

    Interior design: Julia Edelmann, Buckingham Interiors + Design, 1820 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60622; 312/243-9975, buckinghamid.com.
    Builder: Heritage Luxury Builders, 1741 Harding Road, Northfield, IL 60093; 847/446-3330, heritageluxury.com.  

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    User-Friendly Kitchen

    In the kitchen, the designer tweaked the layout to enlarge and add seating to the island. “The wood table was originally supposed to be attached to the island, but we made it freestanding for flexibility,” the designer says. When Sarah entertains large groups, the table is pulled forward to allow room for a bartender to stand between the table and island and serve drinks.

    The lower height of the table also makes it a good place for rolling dough and other baking activities. Cube-shaped stools upholstered in turquoise provide additional seating and blasts of color that repeat blue-green accents from the adjoining family room.

    Sarah and Edelmann’s client-designer relationship evolved into friendship as the two hit Chicago-area shops, such as those along Clark Street in the Andersonville neighborhood. “The hunt is so much more fun than pulling something out of a catalog,” Sarah says. A highlight was spotting light fixtures removed from the old Chicago Theatre on State Street. “We saw them lying on the floor by the door. We looked at each other and said ‘Kitchen! at the same time,” Sarah recalls. “I wanted something special over the island, and they are perfect. They make my house completely different.” 

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    Vintage Chair

    Another vintage find: a pair of iconic midcentury chairs designed by Richard Schultz, which Sarah uses as host chairs in the breakfast room. Edelmann re-covered the chrome-pedestal chairs in a textured fabric and combined them with vintage leather-and-wood chairs and a wood table. “Sarah wanted a farm table she wouldn’t have to worry about being too precious, so we custom made the table out of barn wood. We love to combine antique and modern.”

    Host chairs (vintage Richard Schultz): Broadway Antique Market, bamchicago.com.
    Host-chair fabric (discontinued): Brentano Fabrics, brentanofabrics.com

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    Breakfast Room

    Roman shades add color and softness to the breakfast room, which has windows on three walls. “I love the breakfast room because you feel like you’re on a porch or sitting outside,” Sarah says. “We eat our dinners there as a family, and the kids often do their homework at the breakfast room table. Our house is walking distance from school, and just about any day I’ll have six teenagers raiding the kitchen. This is a house where everyone comes.”

    Midcentury-modern chairs bookend an antique-style table on an Oscar Isberian rug. The console table in front of the windows is from Currey & Co.

    Wall paint (“Silver Bells” #1458): Benjamin Moore & Co., benjaminmoore.com.
    Cabinetry (“Southampton”): Wood-Mode, wood-mode.com.
    Cabinetry hardware (“Cylinder Middle Pull”/Pewter #CP880-P): RK Int’l, rkintl.com.
    Granite countertop (“Virginia Mist”): through Heritage Luxury Builders, heritageluxury.com.
    Small mosaic backsplash tile (“Little Satch Be Bop White Gloss Mosaic”): Artistic Tile, artistictile.com.
    Light fixture (antique, from The Old Chicago Theatre): Scout, scoutchicago.com.
    Window treatment (“Chinese Steps”/Autumn Leaves #2100/01): Jim Thompson Fabrics, jimthompsonfabrics.com.
    Table (antique): White Attic, thewhiteattic.com.
    Leather side chairs (“Adrian Heath for Cado Cerused Dining Chairs,” discontinued): Red Modern Furniture, redmodernfurniture.com.
    Host chairs (vintage Richard Schultz): Broadway Antique Market, bamchicago.com.
    Host-chair fabric (discontinued): Brentano Fabrics, brentanofabrics.com.
    Rug (“Harvest Moon Rug”): Oscar Isberian Rugs, isberian.com.
    Long table in background (“Factory Console Table” #3022): Currey & Co., curreycodealers.com.
    Candlesticks: Buckingham Interiors + Design, buckinghamid.com.  

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    Classic Cabinetry 

    White “Southampton” traditional cabinets from Wood-Mode take on a modern flair with elegant nickel and pewter hardware.  

    Cabinetry (“Southampton”): Wood-Mode, wood-mode.com.
    Cabinetry hardware (“Cylinder Middle Pull”/Pewter #CP880-P): RK Int’l, rkintl.com.

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    Mosaic Tiles

    Narrow, rough-cut marble tiles on the sink wall and in the breakfast room add texture. The “Little Satch Be Bop White Gloss Mosaic” tiles are from Artistic Tile.

    Small mosaic backsplash tile (“Little Satch Be Bop White Gloss Mosaic”): Artistic Tile, artistictile.com.

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    Smart Details

    Island Table: A wood table at one end of the island provides seating and work space. The table can be moved to make space between it and the island for a bartender to stand and prepare drinks.

    Limestone Floor Tiles: Stone tiles in several sizes anchor the spacious kitchen and stand up to heavy traffic from family, friends, and pets. 

    Wall paint (“Silver Bells” #1458): Benjamin Moore & Co., benjaminmoore.com.
    Cabinetry (“Southampton”): Wood-Mode, 877/635-7500, wood-mode.com.
    Cabinetry hardware (“Cylinder Middle Appliance Pull”/Pewter finish #PH4880-P): RK Int’l, rkintl.com.
    Stone floor (limestone laid in Versailles pattern): through Heritage Luxury Builders, heritageluxury.com.
    Hanging light fixture (antique, from The Old Chicago Theatre): Scout, scoutchicago.com.
    Main sink (“Cursive Design on Alcott”/Earthen White #K14572-T6-W2); island sink (“Iron/Tones” K-6587-0): Kohler, kohler.com.
    Main faucets (“Axor Citterio 2-Spray Semi-Pro Kitchen Faucet” #39840801); island faucets (“Axor Citterio 2-Spray Prep Kitchen Faucet, Pull-Down” #39836801): Hansgrohe, hansgrohe-usa.com.
    Perimeter countertops (“Virginia Mist Granite,” honed); island countertop (“Imperial Danby Marble”): through Heritage Luxury Builders, heritageluxury.com.
    Table at end of island (custom); turquoise stools (custom): Buckingham Interiors + Design, buckinghamid.com.
    Range (48-inch gas range #GR486G, by Wolf); refrigerator (48-inch, with custom front paneling, by Sub-Zero): Sub-Zero/Wolf, subzero-wolf.com.
    Refrigerator door pulls (“Modern Door Pull”/Solid Stainless Steel #726): Omnia Industries, omniaindustries.com.
    Integrated coffee/espresso maker (“Whole Bean Coffee System” #CVA 4062 BRWS+): Miele, mieleusa.com.
    Microwave below coffee maker (Over the Counter 1100W Sensor Microwave): Sharp, sharpusa.com.
    Integrated dishwasher (24-inch 800 Plus Series): Bosch, bosch-home.com/us.
    Dishwasher drawers: Fisher & Paykel, fisherpaykel.com.
    Backsplash tile on range wall (“Damask Blanc Polished Water Jet Mosaic”); backsplash tile on sink (“Little Satch Be Bop White Gloss Mosaic”): Artistic Tile, artistictile.com.
    Pottery in upper “X” cabinets: Joanne Trestrail, through Buckingham Interiors + Design, buckinghamid.com.
    Moldings; trim: through Heritage Luxury Builders, heritageluxury.com.

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    Vintage Light Fixtures 

    Metal light fixtures dating to the 1920s came from a landmark theater. The large pendants are in scale with the high, beamed ceilings and add texture, warmth, and a young, quirky style. 

    Hanging light fixture (antique, from The Old Chicago Theatre): Scout, scoutchicago.com.

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    High-Arc Faucet 

    Sarah frequently entertains large groups, and the Axor “Citterio” semi-pro spray makes cleaning stacks of dishes and large pots and pans easier and more efficient.

    Main faucets (“Axor Citterio 2-Spray Semi-Pro Kitchen Faucet” #39840801): Hansgrohe, hansgrohe-usa.com.

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    Embellished Sink Front

    The front of a light gray-toned farmhouse sink is accented with a raised design of overlapping circles. “That sink is one of my favorite things in the kitchen,” says Edelmann. “It has personality.”

    The Kohler farmhouse-style sink gets a graphic update with its “Cursive” design on the apron front. The circle motif offers a break from the straight lines of surrounding surfaces. 

    Main sink (“Cursive Design on Alcott”/Earthen White #K14572-T6-W2: Kohler, kohler.com

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    Undulating Handles

    The classic white cabinets installed by the builder were more traditional than Sarah would have chosen, so Edelmann jazzed them up with sleek nickel and pewter pulls. The refrigerator and freezer door handles are undulating. “Neither of us had seen anything like them. They are sculptural and unique,” Edelmann says. “They feel very feminine, and the curves soften the space.”  

    Refrigerator door pulls (“Modern Door Pull”/Solid Stainless Steel #726): Omnia Industries, omniaindustries.com

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    Sleek Built-ins 

    A coffee and espresso maker by Miele and a microwave by Sharp are integrated into cabinets within reach of the island and refrigerator.

    Integrated coffee/espresso maker (“Whole Bean Coffee System” #CVA 4062 BRWS+): Miele, mieleusa.com

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    Water-Jet Tile Design

    The movement of the arabesque-style design from Artistic Tile softens the linear surfaces and creates a focal-point backsplash behind the Wolf range. 

    Backsplash tile on range wall (“Damask Blanc Polished Water Jet Mosaic”): Artistic Tile, artistictile.com

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    Designer Portrait

    Interior designer Julia Edlemann in the Winnetka kitchen she personalized for Sarah Nolan.

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