Photo: Kate Roth
After years orchestrating meals in a compact galley, when it came time for Janet Weinberg to upgrade her kitchen, she refused to settle for a cookie-cutter remodel. "I love to cook and I'm passionate about food," says Janet, who, in addition to her duties as wife and mother of two, is pursuing a culinary arts degree and plays viola with the local symphony. Training and experience have taught her what works in a kitchen and what doesn't, so she wanted the foodie's equivalent of Carnegie Hall—a space fine-tuned specifically to her needs.
When the family moved to Highland Park, Illinois, she brainstormed with kitchen designer Theresa Sterbis, of Project Partners Inc. in Prospect Heights, Illinois, to come up with a new kitchen from scratch. "It had to be beautiful as well as functional," says Sterbis, a former engineer whose spaceplanning skills proved a in drafting the 300-square-foot, U-shaped plan.
Since Janet craved color—her former kitchen was a failed experiment in all white—she selected a sage paint finish for the recessed-panel cabinets. "I read it is associated with calmness and tranabove: quility," she says of the soft grayish green shade. "I knew I was going to be spending a lot of hours in here."
Floor Plan: Steven Stankiewicz
Adding a secondary sink on the island established an additional work triangle in the kitchen. For a solo cook, it's a real step-saver; for two chefs, it sets up distinct work zones.
When Janet couldn't find a range hood she liked, interior designer Carly Sax persuaded a local metal craftsman to fabricate one, experimenting with various finishes until they settled on a rich copper patina. Moving down to the backsplash, rugged slate tiles in organic tones wrap the walls like a patchwork quilt. Above the cooktop, a metal-framed mosaic of small stained glass tiles functions as a piece of artwork. Countertops are veined green granite that require minimal upkeep.
Efficiency is the key to the layout, which centers around an 8-foot island that's the locus for a variety of functions— casual dining, cookware and book storage and meal prep.
Replete with professional-style appliances—including a cooktop, double ovens, microwave, warming drawer and three dishwashers—the end result is well worth the effort invested. "My husband definitely questioned the third dishwasher," she says, but that appliance, in the pantry, is practical for large parties, when she finds herself running full loads of just glassware. "Without a doubt, it's my favorite feature."