A New Layout and European Flair Add Style to a Century-Old Kitchen

Dated finishes and no space to entertain were cramping this kitchen's style. The solution: an unconventional floor plan and a big dose of European flair.

Tasked with bringing better function and some much-needed flavor to a century-old kitchen near Chicago, interior designer Amy Storm looked beyond surface updates and standard floor plans. "These homeowners wanted something eclectic with a lot of counter space," she says. The must-haves: a bright (but not white) color scheme, a baking zone for their teen daughter, and a storage system so smart that they'd never lose another food container lid.

remodeled modern gray, white, and wood kitchen
Nathan Kirkman

After taking down a wall, Storm installed a hardworking peninsula to separate the baking area from the prep and cook zone. Concentrating the storage in the peninsula and island allowed her to skip cabinets on the window wall in the cooking zone, which upped open floor space and made it easier for guests to circulate. Tile adds industrial European flair. The cement floor tile "feels vintage but is also really graphic and bold," Storm says, and floor-to-ceiling subway tile is textural and reminds the homeowners of a Parisian bistro.

Storm removed a wall behind the fridge that separated the kitchen from a seldom-used office and claimed that space for a U-shape baking area. The central peninsula includes open storage for dishes and is a convenient serving spot. The island includes prep and cleanup essentials.

"Taking out the wall exposed windows that were in the office area, giving the kitchen so much more light," Storm says. New decorative beams help the load-bearing beam over the stove blend in. Brass and gunmetal on light fixtures veer modern; nickel pulls add a traditional shape and finish to cabinetry.

A tight gray-and-white palette inspired by the floor tile establishes a neutral scheme that's softer than standard black and white. Trim on the sides of the peninsula and island breaks up the gray, which is Benjamin Moore's Kendall Charcoal HC-166.

white tile backsplash kitchen wooden and navy cabinets
Nathan Kirkman

Storm anchored the baking area with a wooden cabinet designed to look like vintage furniture. Its tall drawers hold pots; cookie sheets slip into toe-kick drawers. The mixer and blender slide out of the countertop cabinets right onto the stain-resistant quartz. Walnut wood on the baking area cabinets, barstools, and accent shelves warms the neutral palette and ties in with dark wood floors in adjacent rooms.

dining nook with black and white stripes on wall and floral cushion
Nathan Kirkman

There's plenty of open floor space in the remodeled kitchen, but Storm created cozy nooks throughout. Some of her favorites: a bar area with an undercounter beverage fridge, a built-in toaster station in the back right corner, and the colorful banquette.

The dining nook's floral banquette bench "adds just the right amount of femininity and color to the contemporary European kitchen," Storm says.

gray drawers open in modern kitchen
Nathan Kirkman

Every drawer is sized for certain items. Pot storage and a spice rack squeeze in around the built-in microwave next to the range.

white sink with silver faucet and lettuce
Nathan Kirkman

Window casings were left their original cream as a deliberate contrast to the white tile. Subway tile, accented with dark grout, is a classic kitchen material that takes its cue from chefs' industrial kitchens.

Updated by
Natalie Warady

Natalie Warady is a freelance creative consultant specializing in interior design, food, drink, and lifestyle. She has also written for Better Homes & Gardens, Country Living Magazine, Oprah's Home Magazine, and InStyle Home.

In addition to her publishing career, Natalie has also been a managing editor for online magazines, where she covered Haute Couture, Prêt-à-Porter, Cannes Film Festival, and the Tour de France.

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