Claire Staszak of the Chicago firm Centered by Design is known for what she calls a holistic approach, combining her love of interiors with a passion for wellness (she is also a certified yoga instructor). So, it’s no surprise that when she was tasked with the renovation of a 1930s Colonial north of Chicago, she whipped up a kitchen for a young family that feels calm, balanced and serene.
Staszak was limited to working within the kitchen’s existing footprint, however she was able to make a few key changes—including closing off an opening to the dining room, removing a window to add symmetry and adding a larger window to bring in more light—that make all the difference.
“In doing this, we were able to fit in everything we wanted, including a large island and a coffee bar,” notes the designer. “The clients wanted something fresh and beautiful with a mix of Southern charm and the feel of a French bistro.”
With that in mind, Staszak installed custom cabinetry from her firm’s in-house line in a light taupe shade, cafe-inspired lighting, natural wood accents and periwinkle backsplash tile from Ann Sacks. “Custom cabinetry provides the opportunity for a variety of details tailored to the homeowners’ needs, such as arched doors and open shelving,” Staszak explains.
With the clients being avid cooks and entertainers, storage was a major focus. The designer incorporated hidden compartments for appliances, bakeware and utensils, while niches flanking the range hold cooking essentials such as oils and spices. Meanwhile, easy-to-clean quartz surfaces lend durability to the hardworking space.
“Health and well-being are important to this couple, and I really tried to be a calm and grounding presence during the renovation process,” Staszak says. “My job is always to take the stress off my clients, make the process feel like a true collaboration, and channel a Zen attitude.” Most importantly, adds the designer, “a space doesn’t have to be boring in order to feel balanced.”