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BEFORE AND AFTER The old kitchen looked like a 1990s developer’s special, lacking in both style and flow; Schanstra’s update is elegant and user-friendly.
DESIGNER Gladys Schanstra, Drury Design
What do you do when you want to sell your house but just can’t get a decent offer for it? For an Elmhurst couple, the answer was to pull theirs off the market and have it rebuilt so that it suited their growing family and became a dream home all over again.
Completing this task is what Gladys Schanstra of Drury Design (in concert with architect Michael Sparks) was hired to do. A two-floor addition and a savvy new floor plan gave the family a contemporary kitchen with an adjoining family room and a long-desired master suite for Mom and Dad.
“My clients had to be willing to take some leaps of faith to go for a transitional-modern look inside, even though their house has a Colonial-style exterior,” says Schanstra, who used clean lines and dark tones paired with whites to freshen up both the kitchen and the master bathroom without letting anything skew too modern.
The primary goals for the dated kitchen were to modernize it and to allow space for a central island large enough to seat four. What could be done, however, about a load-bearing column, newly exposed, in the expanded room?
The family room feels connected to the kitchen thanks to uninterrupted oak flooring, similar palettes, and matching cabinetry.
“The architect had drawn matching columns on either side of the island,” says Schanstra. “One was the load-bearing column; the other was for visual balance. As the space evolved, I thought it would be better to get rid of the decorative one to keep the room more open.” Schanstra used the column that needed to be there to subtly separate the food-prep portion of the island from the part that’s a high-top table, surrounded by four chairs. At the same end of the kitchen, a cabinet containing a message center (corkboard, cell-phone charging strip, and baskets for kids’ homework) is set back slightly from the rest of the built-ins—a recess that creates room for the wider girth of the island on that side.
Elsewhere, symmetry reigns. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets on the wall with the ovens, refrigerator, and message center are balanced with to-the-ceiling hanging cabinets on the opposite side, with a millwork bridge over the sink maintaining continuity. Still, Schanstra didn’t go overboard on rectilinearity, introducing ceramic wall tile with a wavy design (emphasized with dark grout) and two drum pendants over the island that lend their own stylish curves.
As always, there were practical considerations. Keeping in mind that she was designing for a family with three children, Schanstra used durable materials, including CaesarStone countertops and a stainless steel sink. And a great virtue of the new layout is that the kitchen morphs smoothly into the family room, so parents can cook while maintaining contact with kids watching TV and hanging out. The neutral palette in the kitchen lends itself to splashes of color (see the yellow-and-cream Angela Adams rug) that are picked up in family room accessories. Black cabinetry with stainless steel hardware is used in both rooms.
Photography: Eric Hausman