The new dining nook

SIZE 1,400 square feet
TYPE Loft kitchen/living area
INTERIOR DESIGNER Alison Victoria Gramenos

THE CHALLENGE Interior designer Alison Victoria Gramenos of Alison Victoria Interiors found herself biting her tongue when she went to see this circa-2000 converted loft space in Wicker Park with her client before he bought it. “The seller was there, and he was so proud of the work he’d done on it,” she says. The main living area had a dinky, dated, builder-standard kitchen shoved into one corner, with a gigantic wine storage unit clumsily tacked onto it; overpowering colors on the walls (made even more jarring by bright white moldings); and an awkwardly positioned fireplace to which the owner had added a space-invading mantel. “The second he walked out of the room,” she recalls, “I was like, ‘We’re ripping it all out.’”

THE SOLUTION To oblige her globetrotting young client’s desire for a layout that is easy to entertain in, Gramenos opened up the kitchen, more than doubling the size of the island. She unified the large space by using the same materials in more than one spot—zebrawood veneer and white laminate for cabinetry in the kitchen and also for floating storage units in the TV area, stainless steel on appliances and also on the fireplace. Furniture is versatile: Faux-leather swivel chairs can be turned to face the TV, the island, or the dining nook—depending on where the party is. And the space has an overall loungy, sexy feel that’s just right for the 30-year-old bachelor who moved into it.


Photograph: Alan Shortall


The dining nook, before and after
A dining nook has its own well-defined space but doesn’t interrupt the visual flow of the room. Granite-flecked cork wallpaper adds subtle texture on the walls; three tall mirrors create depth and interest. Sassy pillows make the banquette feel even more sofa-like.

Gramenos replaced the fussy, old-fashioned mantel with a simple stainless steel unit. She nixed the glass tile she had planned to use for a surround, deciding even that was too much (“We’re saving it for the bathroom”). A cutout above the fireplace repeats its shape and provides a simple, sophisticated display area for art.


Photograph: Alan Shortall


The living area
Custom wall-mounted cabinets echo the ones in the kitchen as far as materials go, but their positions are staggered because, says Gramenos, “if everything is perfectly lined up, there’s nothing to look at.”

Gramenos’s four distinct “moments” in the main room (the kitchen, a TV area, a seating area near the fireplace, and the dining niche) work together for entertaining, thanks to easy-to-move seating. Black-edged windows and an espresso finish on the floor provide a smart contrast to the white kitchen cabinets and CaesarStone quartz countertops.


Photograph: Alan Shortall

The kitchen, before and after

Working with an under-the-radar company called Kitchen & Bath 4 You, Gramenos saved her client time and money (the kitchen was ready in less than four weeks) but still got solid wood cabinets with soft-closing drawers and a walnut-stained butcher-block enclosure for the wine refrigerator. Here and elsewhere, pale colors and horizontal lines keep the eye moving and create airiness in a small space.

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Photograph: Alan Shortall


Buy Guide

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Designer: Alison Victoria Interior Design, 702-610-8813, General contractor: Six Star Services, 773-827-6410. Kitchen: Cabinets, Kitchen and Bath 4 You, 4311 W. Belmont Ave., 773-545-9725, Bar chairs, Zuo Modern, Appliances, KitchenAid. Living area: Sofa, Alison Victoria Avenue Collection. Coffee table, Restoration Hardware, Rug, Calvin Klein, Artwork, Laura Beth Cartwright, Dining area: Table, Alison Victoria Avenue Collection. Infinity narrow mirrors, CB2, Phillip Jeffries wallpaper, Holly Hunt, Merchandise Mart, 312-661-1900, Clavius suspension chandelier by AXO, Lightology, 215 W. Chicago Ave., 312-944-1000, Louis Ghost chairs by Kartell, Luminaire, 310 W. Superior St., 312-664-9582,