1) Everything in its place: Storage, food prep, and casual dining are accommodated in and around the island. Inspired by vintage fixtures he saw for $250, Joaquin Calle made pendants out of $4 gas cans from a welding supply store. 2) Calle’s prototype for his Big Sur table (a popular item at Crate & Barrel) is surrounded by Duna chairs, made for outdoor cafes. 3) One island cubby was sized to fit the couple’s German shepherd, but the two smaller dogs always horn in.
Soon after buying a 1910 two-flat in Logan Square, Joaquin Calle and Sandra Kortright found themselves in a tapas restaurant using every crayon in the kiddie kit to draw up plans for their ideal home on the butcher paper covering their table. Five years later, after living small in the 1,200-square-foot first-floor apartment, they handed that sketch over to a contractor to turn the building into a single-family home.
The pantry hides dishware, linens, and small appliances behind a blackboard door.
Their primary goal was to blow out all the walls and get as much kitchen as possible on the first floor. A well-designed, well-located island was essential. “We entertain a lot and wanted everyone to gather in an open, airy space while we cook,” explains Calle, a furniture designer and real-estate broker. And it had to be clean-lined and uncluttered. “We like modern design and we’re pretty minimalist.”
There also needed to be room to store their vast collection of party-hosting accessories. The two are both accomplished chefs and have every entertaining essential imaginable—“and then some,” says Kortright, a senior product manager at Crate & Barrel. “I pick up things all over the world, but everything is so diverse, we didn’t want it out.”
They devoted the whole first floor to entertaining, with three-quarters of that space allocated to a streamlined kitchen and eating area. A 19-foot island—a third of it butcher block and the rest topped with white Caesarstone—organizes the kitchen into prep, cooking, and eating areas. With abundant storage and counter space, it serves as ground zero for an ever-changing range of functions.
The room opens, with folding glass doors, to a porch where guests gather in warm weather. A space behind the stairwell, once a tiny bedroom, houses a pantry and a compact office. A blackboard on the rolling pantry door keeps the couple organized.
“Now the only thing left to do is frame the drawing, which has been packed away in the basement since we finished the project,” Calle says.
Photography: Werner Straube; Styling: Barri Leiner Grant; flowers: Marguerite Gardens
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General contractor: Chris Dubanski, Acculine Construction Corp., Elmwood Park, 708-369-8801. Kitchen: Cabinets, Vesta Chicago, 1357 W. Concord Pl., 773-252-7300, vestachicago.com. Caesarstone, Granite Design of Midwest, 945 N. California Ave., 773-772-5300, yourgranitedesign.com. Stools, CB2, 800 W. North Ave., 312-787-8329. Appliances, Vesta Chicago. Pendant lamp components, Wisco, 2200 N. Western Ave., 773-384-7622. Dining table, Crate & Barrel, 646 N. Michigan Ave., 312-787-5900, crateandbarrel.com. Chairs, Arper, arper.com. Pet bowl, trendypet.com. Dining area: Table, Crate & Barrel. Chairs, Arper. Pendant fixture, Lightology, 215 W. Chicago Ave., 312-944-1000, lightology.com. Caesarstone surround, Granite Design of Midwest. Antique bottle rack, Marguerite Gardens, 5059 N. Clark St., 773-506-6295, flowerpowerchicago.com. Pantry: Elfa storage bins, Container Store, 908 W. North Ave., 312-654-8450, containerstore.com.