Brick worker’s cottage was a popular style in the late 19th century, and built after the Chicago fire. (Its prime design function? Gabled roofs.) And one such cottage in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood has been revamped, thanks to the work of Rebekah Zaveloff, co-founder and designer director of KitchenLab Interiors.
Homeowner Francia Harris wanted a designer to create something special for her first home—”I didn’t want something that would look like everyone else’s,” she says. “I found Rebekah on Houzz, and she is known for transforming old homes into gems.”
The 1885 home had been renovated, but it had builder-grade finishes. Most of the interior character had been removed—the only stylish element that remained was the tin ceiling in two of the rooms (not original, but still chic).
“I loved the overall vintage character of the house, and it was important that we stayed true to that,” says Harris, who now lives in the renovated home with her cat, Fendi.
The existing kitchen was small and dated, and occupied a one-story addition off the back of the house. It was only accessible by sliding glass doors.
It was obviously the perfect place for KitchenLab to start—once all the old appliances and flooring were removed, the walls were painted in Benjamin Moore Glacier White, with the ceiling and trim in Benjamin Moore Simply White for a fresh start.
“There were a couple of things that I knew I wanted in my dream kitchen, including bold flooring and a statement range,” explains Harris of the blank canvas. “The decision to go with a dramatic, patterned floor tile in the kitchen really set the vibe of that space, and we built on it from there,” says Zaveloff.
“I was searching for an alternative to the more expensive concrete encaustic tile to help the budget, and I found this awesome kitchen floor tile—Home Depot’s Merola 1920s collection porcelain tile. It’s a nice contrast to the more neutral The Tile Shop’s Lancaster Bianco polished wall tile and Taj Mahal quartzite countertops,” she continues.
The blue and white custom kitchen cabinets were painted in Greenfield Cabinet’s Surfside White and Sherwin Williams Inkwell, while the brass cabinet hardware is Restoration Hardware Bistro. A black and brass La Cornue Fe range and custom-designed hood are the showpieces of the kitchen, but other standout appliances include a Bosch paneled fridge and GE Monogram Advantium oven.
Barbara Cosgrove sconces and fixtures from Lightology add great light to the room, and World Market bar chairs and a Grandville Mercantile vintage chandelier are lively additions in the bar area. “We accentuated the angled ceiling in the kitchen by adding painted paneling and faux cedar beams,” says Zaveloff. “Picking up on the brass of the range, we opted for brass hardware, lighting, and plumbing.”
Once the kitchen was figured out, the design focus moved on to the rest of the house. The floors were refinished in a dark stain (Duraseal’s Coffee Brown), and the walls on the main floor were all painted in Benjamin Moore’s Athena. (The staircase was painted a bold black.)
“We added graceful elliptical arches from the dining room to the bar, and from the living room to the foyer. We added corbels, window and door casing, and crown moldings throughout,” says Zaveloff. A vintage Oushak rug from South Loop Loft in the bar and West Elm jute sisal in Light Flax in the dining room were selected specifically so that they wouldn’t compete with the kitchen floor.
The living room features black accents, but the paint color brings in blush undertones to keep it soft and cozy. “With the living room, we were able to bring in a bit more color and pattern, bringing in blues in a Mitchell Gold herringbone patterned Whitley sofa and a vintage rug from Indigo and Ochre,” says Zaveloff. Roar and Rabbit-upholstered, dove gray West Elm swivel chairs, a vintage console from Beehive, and a South Loop Life vintage coffee table make up the rest of the room.
The intimate dining room boasts a Blue Door Antiques vintage chandelier, Anthropologie Nemus dining room table, Rove Concepts chairs, and a Jayson Home banquette, while South Loop Loft poufs and accent pillows round out the decor.
“I love when clients are open to using lots of vintage pieces and rugs, as it makes the space instantly unique. I love patina and imperfection,” says Zaveloff of mixing old and new furniture and textiles. “I often scour our vintage suppliers’ websites and Instagram, or just text them to find rugs and lighting.”