By Mackenzie Dunn

Published on August 26, 2018

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Photography by Dustin Halleck

When your kitchen is literally the heart of your home—as in, it sits directly in the middle of your house’s floor plan—a special need for warmth, as well as trafficking efficiency, comes into play. For the homeowners of this Chicago home, taking their dark, dated kitchen to a sleek, modern, and functional space was paramount to achieving that necessary balance.

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Designer SuzAnn Kletzien was tasked to overhaul the space and adapt the overall flow in order to make it more suitable to both the family and the kitchen’s unique location at the center of the home. The good thing was that the existing symmetrical layout was well-suited for the necessary changes. Although many of the updates were primarily cosmetic, one thing was key: The family needed more style and storage space. So, with some decidedly creative solutions and a totally new, totally modern color palette, Kletzien transformed a cookie-cutter kitchen into anything but.

“My client really likes the black, white, and gold color combinations, which was easy for me because I enjoy it too,” Kletzien tells Domino. “I wanted to give the whole space a much more modern, brighter feel, but also make it more unique.”

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Starting with the island area, Kletzien says she and her client discussed many options, but eventually settled on the classic black stain. Pro tip: Stain a wooden island instead of painting it. It’s a much more durable option for adding more interesting finishes to a focal point, such as a kitchen island. With a stain, nicks in the wood won’t show up as obvious chips. Metallic bar stools contrast nicely against the deep black, while cabinet pulls in a matching matte black and subtle metallic infuse it all together. Chic brackets underneath the cabinets flanking the stove “add a little bling.” 

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Another major focal point of the kitchen (and also the owner and designer’s favorite element of the space) is a custom wooden over hood that mimics the look of windows. Since the kitchen only has two actual windows, it doesn’t get a ton of natural light. Kletzien had to be creative: The cabinet maker fashioned the black hood in a smart way, drawing the eye upward and giving the sleek kitchen an added dose of bold personality, while still blending in with the symmetry of the rest of the space.

You may also notice a super subtle backsplash creeping its way up to the hood. Another one of Kletzien’s ways to add a bit of uniqueness to the space, the backsplash is made of hand-tumbled terracotta tiles laid in a grid pattern. Each tile is a bit different, adding some much needed texture, variation, and depth to that wall. The same look is repeated on the opposite wall on either side of the kitchen nook High-gloss quartz on both the island and counters is the ultimate way to round out the sophisticated space.

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Storage space remained a major component of the kitchen’s remodel, as was creating an eat-in area. So, Kletzien came up with the genius solution of creating a custom banquette that doubles as storage. Underneath the washable faux leather cushions lies extra space for storing larger kitchen items, along with the objects that may not have a place among the existing cabinets. This maximizes the functionality of the tiny corner space, giving the home owners a cozy place to enjoy breakfast and other casual meals. 

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“The banquette was key to utilizing this space in the most efficient way,” says Kletzien. “The chairs were chosen because they tuck in nicely, so it works well with the flow in there, and kind of weaves a walkway to the living room.”

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Over the sweet nook hangs another of Kletzien’s favorite elements—a bold pendant from Bradley Home that reminds us somewhat of a cracked egg. It’s whimsical, yet still seamless with the rest of the modern design, and adds additional bright light to an otherwise dim corner. Above, open shelving creates space for more storage or some artwork, while pops of blue-green and teal tie in with the kitchen rug and fun, graphic throw pillows on the banquette.

Overall, the now bright, crisp space flows into the rest of the home, while still providing a central hub for the house. Thanks to Kletzien’s solutions and her client’s chic sense of style, it has successfully transformed into an adequate heart of the home.

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Photography by Dustin Halleck

See more homes we’re loving:

This Tiny, Pink Victorian Might Be the Cutest Home in SF

How One Stylish Mudroom Transformed This Whole House

When Empty Nest Syndrome Inspires a Chic Home Makeover

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