Before and After photos of kitchen designed by Gladys Schanstra of Drury Design
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.

TYPE Kitchen/bath
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
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


Under the counter built in microwave oven
An undercounter microwave oven saves space and keeps a not-so-attractive appliance below eye level.

Upstairs, the new master bedroom and en-suite bath didn’t exist until the addition was completed. Schanstra’s clients, who were used to sharing a bathroom with their children, were craving a kid-free zone. “They wanted a large soaking tub, a separate shower, a hidden toilet, two vanities, a linen closet, and an overall spa feel,” says Schanstra. And they got all of the above.

The bathroom is an L shape: On one side, an inviting round tub sits dramatically against a backdrop of variegated green glass mosaic tiles; this side also houses a water closet and the shower. Vanities—one with a makeup desk—and storage areas are on the other side. 


Master bath with lodge-chic aesthetic
Variegated green glass tile on the walls, pebble flooring in the shower, and planklike
ceramic flooring create a lodge-chic aesthetic in the master bath.

A bold light fixture over the tub was perhaps not a must, but it certainly makes the room—which is a good thing, since Schanstra had to jump through hoops to get it done. Normally, a drum pendant over a tub would not meet safety codes, but Schanstra worked with the builders to wire the room in such a way that if moisture is detected in critical areas, the entire system shuts down (the light fixture itself is also vapor-proof). “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Schanstra says.

With ceramic tiles that resemble wood planks on the floor and pebble flooring in the shower, the bathroom has a lodge feel that reminds the parents of Colorado, their favorite vacation destination. Ironically, it’s not quite the local escape they’d had in mind.

“I laugh because the biggest users of the round tub are the three children,” says Schanstra. “So much for their kid-free oasis.”

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Photography: Eric Hausman


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Design: Gladys Schanstra, Drury Design, 512 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn, Architect: Michael Sparks, Sparks Architects, Elmhurst, 630-530-3700. Kitchen: Microwave, rangetop, double oven, Wolf; refrigerator/freezer, Sub-Zero; Westye Group, 196 Exchange Blvd., Glendale Heights, 630-872-5100. Lenova sink, Blanco faucet, Grabill cabinets, CaesarStone countertops, Stone­gate pendant lights, through Drury Design. Tile backsplash, The Fine Line, 503 N. Wells St., 312-670-0300, Rug, Angela Adams. Enzo bar chairs, Bath: Barclay tub, Lacava Minimal bath faucet, shower valve, trim, arm, head, all Grohe, Ferguson, Downers Grove, 630-916-8560. Water closet, seat, Kohler. Wall tile, Crossville Glass Blox mosaic blend. Master bath shower floor, Stone Tile International. Pendant light, Blossom by Stonegate. Rug, Angela Adams.