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Category Archives: From Before to After—Journal of a Renovation

Lincoln Park Kitchen Renovation is Complete!

After several months of living among construction, my clients are happy to have their kitchen back.  They quickly put everything back so they could start enjoying it.

KC photo 1                             KC photo 2

Featuring white shaker style cabinetry, quartz countertops, and stainless steel appliances, this kitchen is beautifully updated in a monochromatic color scheme of white, taupe and champagne. A large island provides ample counter space for the owners who enjoy cooking and baking. It also serves as a dining table or bar counter which can seat 4 people. Now that the back wall is filled with cabinetry–it was previously empty–not only is there additional storage, but a serving counter and glass display cabinets.  Perfect for entertaining!


KC photo 3                KC photo4 revised

Texture is added through ribbed glass door inserts, dimpled glass pendants and ceramic tile. The backsplash is a subway tile from Mission Stone and Tile, which features a raised geometric design and adds a timeless element with a modern twist. The island is highlighted in Silestone’s quartz, Lusso, which has multi-color veining over a white background. The outer counters are Silestone’s quartz in Coral Clay.

counter photo for blog IMG_0151       subway-2x5-Oyster-Diamond-2T

When I arrived to take photographs, the home owner had just finished baking the muffins that are sitting out. She told me how much easier and more enjoyable it is to work in her new kitchen.
As always we strive to create kitchens that are functional as well as beautiful. It is always nice to hear that we were successful!


Backsplash tile goes in at Lincoln Park Kitchen Renovation!

My favorite part of the kitchen renovation is when the backsplash tile is installed.  Not only does this step signal the imminent completion, it often ties the whole design together.



It can be sleek and clean or multi-color and varied, the tile adds a unique touch.  Often it is the hardest to select because there are so many great options.  Materials range from glass to metal and clay.  Shapes can be small square or round mosaics or large rectangles, hexagons or circles.  Surfaces come in matte, shiny, smooth or textured.


In this kitchen, the goal was to create an light, airy and calming space, in a classic modern style.  A monochromatic color scheme of white, cream, champagne and taupe was chosen to accomplish this goal.  A ceramic subway tile from Mission Stone and Tile  features a raised geometric design, adds a timeless element with a modern twist.



The walls have been painted and the space feels suddenly light and airy!  The tile will be grouted, the pendants will be hung and the vent hood and microwave will be installed this week.  Almost there!

Lincoln Park Kitchen Renovation– quartz countertops installed!

After several weeks of waiting for the quartz countertops to be fabricated, they are finally installed in a Lincoln Park Kitchen that has been under construction since April.  After revising the island counter so it could fit in the elevator, I hoped that everything would now go smoothly.  One at a time, 6 pieces were loaded into the elevator and brought up to the apartment.

I held my breath as each one was laid down in place and sighed in relief as they fit into place.  Now the sink can be hooked up and my clients will have a working kitchen—although not photo ready.

counter installed 1              counter installed 2

There are still several things that need to be done:  install the backsplash tile, appliances and pendants.  After several paint samples were put on the walls, Benjamin Moore’s “Everlasting” was chosen.

1038 everlasting

It is a warm neutral with just the right amount of amber tone that will pick up the champagne color of the glass pendant lights and the veining in the quartz island counter.  In one week the entire kitchen should be complete and ready for everyday cooking and entertaining guests!

island pendants                      lusso island counter


Lincoln Park Kitchen Renovation Hits a Snag

A kitchen renovation is a big undertaking and sometimes the unexpected happens.   This Lincoln Park project is no different.  Everything was moving along without incidence until I received the shop drawings for the countertops.  The island that I designed was quite big, but fit the space well and provided ample seating.  (See the concept drawings below)

KC kitchen 2 for blog 42516 KC kitchen 1 for blog 42516

Now the large island was in jeopardy since it was determined that the semi-circle section would not fit in the elevator.  Unfortunately this mid rise building did not have a freight elevator.   Even if it could fit, it wouldn’t be able to stand up on the short end because of the curve.  It needed to have a flat surface and to be smaller.

I thought I had a simple solution when I inquired about the possibility of carrying it up to the apartment–after all it was only 3 flights.  I was advised that the piece was too heavy and if dropped could get damaged.  We could rent a crane –for another $1,000.  Or have it made in 2 pieces, which would mean the island would have 2 seams!


original island shape

           Original Island Design


We didn’t like any of those options, so I went back to the drawing board.  After consulting with my clients,  who were open to changing the shape and size, I reduced the depth and added straight edges on both sides.

revisedl island shape

     Revised Island Countertop

With any kitchen renovation, periodically an “unknown” surfaces and an element needs to be changed or redesigned.  That’s just part of the process.  There is always a solution and sometimes it turns out to have been the better one.

Now that the new island shape is approved, it is in production.  In a couple of weeks it will be ready and then the kitchen can be completed.  Hopefully there are no more surprises!






Lincoln Park Kitchen Renovation Continues

Update on Lincoln Park Kitchen Renovation

The white cabinets are all in place and the lighting has been installed.  The bar area will be completed with textured glass doors and glass shelving.  The room is coming together!

blog 5 9 16 A

I am feeling good that everything is going so smoothly, when I see a photo come through from my contractor.  From afar it looks perfect, but upon closer examination, I see that the crown molding doesn’t quite hit the ceiling.  Panic begins, but then I remember that the ceiling was very uneven and that it would require a filler to close the gap.   I’ll be onsite tomorrow to discuss how this will be done and if any extra material will need to be ordered.  In almost every renovation, there is something that needs to be reordered–either there wasn’t enough or something came in the wrong color or quantity.

blog 5 9 16 B

By tomorrow, I should have the template drawings for the countertop.  After the onsite measure, a shop drawing is submitted for our approval.  It will indicate the measurements, the colors, thickness and where seams will be located if they are needed.  Once this drawing is approved, we are in the home stretch!

White Cabinets brighten up a Lincoln Park Kitchen

The cabinets have been fully installed!





When I met my clients for the first time we discussed in detail what they were looking for in their new kitchen.  Top items were:  brighten up the room, add storage, expand the dining counter to eliminate the need for a separate table. The existing cabinets were oak with a dark black/green granite counter top (see the photo below).  There was very little counter space and storage.  The entire wall behind the rectangular dining table was underutilized, providing no storage.

KC before 1      KC before 2

White painted cabinets were easily selected—what could be brighter and more classic than white? .  With White as the color and shaker as the style, the cabinets set the tone for the rest of the kitchen.

blog 5 9 16 B

Light colored quartz counter tops will be practically maintenance free while providing a natural look and feel.  The expanded island will feature a quartz counter top in Silestone Lusso  while the outer counters are Silestone Coral Clay.  The oversized island will provide much more counter space for cooking, dining, entertaining or working.

Silestone quartz: Lusso and Coral Clay

Silestone quartz: Lusso and Coral Clay



Good lighting is an important consideration in any space, but it is typically not thought about much or as a last item.   After spending so much money on a renovation, you want to be able to “see” it and our enjoyment of a space can be enhanced with proper lighting.  To achieve the client’s goal of brightening up the kitchen, which only has 2 small windows on one wall, general lighting will be improved with the addition of 4 can lights and 2 pendants over the dining counter (which can be dimmed to function as ambient light).  For task lighting there is LED strip lighting under the cabinets and for ambiance the glass door cabinets will be lit with puck lights within the cabinet.  The glass shelves and ribbed glass inserts for the cabinet doors is being custom cut off site.


blog 5 9 16 A

I’ll be onsite tomorrow checking on the progress and hoping that it is all still moving along smoothly.


Cabinets installed at Lincoln Park Kitchen

The cabinets are now being installed.   So far it seems that no damages occurred during transport and they are all fitting in as planned.   We want to get the cabinets installed as quickly as possible so that the measurements for the counter tops can take place.   Since it can take up to 2 weeks to fabricate them,  I am always hopeful that the cabinets go in without a hitch.

cabs installed 3       IMG_8075


By late afternoon, I stop by again and there as been a lot of progress.  The white painted cabinets are fresh and bright–a big difference from the previous oak cabinets.  I feel confident that the counters can be measured tomorrow.  While waiting for the counters, there is still a lot more to do including installing the lighting and painting the room.  If everything continues to go as planned, my clients will be enjoying their new kitchen in less than 3 weeks.

IMG_8074    IMG_8076


Cabinets delivered to Lincoln Park Kitchen

The Lincoln Park kitchen has been demolished and is now completely empty except for the refrigerator which is to be reused.  There is now room for the new white painted cabinets to be delivered.  As with most home projects, the place will look worse before it gets better.  Boxes of all sizes are now scattered around the kitchen and flowing into the hallway and living room.

cabinets delivered 3                                       cabinets delivered 1

Installation of the cabinets will take a few days and then the counter top measure can take place.  There is also plumbing and electrical work to be done.  Lighting will be improved with the addition of can lights and pendants over the dining counter.  There will also be LED  lighting under the cabinets and in the cabinets with glass doors.  The color scheme is neutral with taupe counter tops along the walls and cream counter on the island.

silestone-lusso                         silestone-coral-clay

Silestone Quartz in Lusso                                  Silestone Quartz in Coral Clay


The backsplash  is from Mission Tile and Stone in size 2″x5″ with a diamond texture.  The oyster color picks up the veining in the Lusso  Silestone Quartz and keeps the palette neutral.


So far things are running smoothing for this Lincoln Park Kitchen.  Of course there is still plenty of time for the unexpected to happen or for something to arrive in the wrong color or size!

Renovation begins on Lincoln Park Kitchen

Demolition is underway for a Lincoln Park kitchen renovation.  My clients are on their way to a modern, updated kitchen with abundant storage, a large island that will seat 5 and a serving area.

IMG_8053                                       IMG_8052

Follow me as the transformation takes place from the “before” (see photos below) to the completed space.


KC before 1                                        KC before 2

The kitchen will feature white painted cabinets with a shaker door style and Silestone quartz countertops.    The new island will replace the need for a dining table and the back wall which is now empty will become a serving area complete with two tall pantry storage.  The concept drawings below give an idea of what the finished kitchen will look like.

KC kitchen 1 for blog 42516 KC kitchen 2 for blog 42516

Home Renovations in Chicago’s South Side

Master Bathroom counter installed!
March 1, 2016

The Master Bathroom is now almost complete. The counter and the shower fixtures have been installed. The only item left is the faucets.

south side blog photo 3 1 16 Asouth side blog photo 3 1 16 B

The quartz countertop by Cambria works beautifully with the moss stained vanity.

south side blog photo 3 1 16 C

Meanwhile downstairs in the kitchen, the backsplash is done. The arabesque tile adds some nice curves to the space. The large Kohler sink and Grohe faucet are in place and ready to use.

south side blog photo 3 1 16 Dsouth side blog photo 3 1 16 E

Luckily the move in date has been pushed back to March 21st. That gives us plenty of time to complete everything–assuming there are no more unexpected delays!

Broken Tile Delays Plans!
February 16, 2016

There always seems to be a snag or two once construction begins. This project is no exception! Things were going so smoothly until the floor tile for the powder room and 2nd bathroom was delivered and it was all broken. To make matters worse there is no more in stock! We will have to select a new tile to go with the walls that have already been painted. With the master bathroom countertop scheduled to be installed within the next 2 weeks, the tile must be on site so that everything can be completed at one time. Plus my client has set a move in date of March 4—all work has to be finished by then!


Meanwhile the kitchen backsplash is being installed and tiling continues on the Master Bathroom walls. There is still lots to do in the next 3 weeks to meet the move in deadline, but I think it can be accomplished! Now I’m off to the tile store.


Kitchen Countertop Installed!
February 8, 2016
For almost 2 weeks while waiting for the kitchen countertops, work has been done in the master bathroom. Radiant heated flooring was installed along with a deep soaking tub and double vanity. A lot of luxury is packed into this relatively small bathroom.



The moss stained wood vanity is set off by white porcelain tile. The focal point is the tiled walls around the tub. With a white background and randomly scattered earthy colors of olive, beige and brown it has a soothing, modern feel.

Meanwhile downstairs in the kitchen, the counters are being installed! The quartz countertop in color, Lusso, has a light background with subtle veins of brown and rust.



The end seems now in sight!! Next the finishing touches– backsplash tile and light fixture above the island. The master bathroom work will continue as the wait for its countertop begins.



Counters are measured!
January 26, 2016

Now that the cabinets have been installed, measurements for the counter are taken. A template will be made from which it will be custom cut from a slab of quartz. There is plenty to do while waiting a few weeks for the counters–tile, electrical, plumbing work and starting the master bathroom.


Flooring installed!
January 19, 2016

The acacia wood floors have been installed! What a difference they make in the guest room where the walls were painted in Benjamin Moore’s Soft Jazz.


Guest Room Before


Guest Room After

The living room has become the storage space for the plumbing fixtures, tile and lighting while the family room holds the kitchen cabinets. Things always look worse before they get better! Luckily the homeowner is not moving in until all the work is completed.


Painting and installing kitchen cabinets is now underway.


Renovation Work Begins
January 12, 2016

After months of planning, work begins on renovations in the Chicago south side neighborhood of Chatham. This single family home built in the 90’s has great space with an open floor plan, but needed to be completely updated. First on the list were new wood flooring and painting throughout. A renovated kitchen and master bathroom were added to this first phase of work.

kitchen before 1 kitchen before 2

Excited to be making her first home her own, my client wanted something special for the wood floors. After considering more common materials such as maple and oak, she chose solid Acacia wood for its exotic look and range of color. On the main floor, Benjamin Moore’s Soft Fern adds subtle color while not overpowering the floors. For the kitchen, espresso stained walnut cabinets pick up the dark tone in the Acacia wood. A light color quartz counter will create balance and lighten up the space. The backsplash tile adds some curves and shine.
Time to get rid of the old–demolition begins!

TJ materials

Acacia wood, Soft Fern paint, Lusso/Silestone quartz