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The conversion of two historic townhouses into a single family home created room for a spacious, open-plan kitchen that is the center of family living

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Awell-designed kitchen may often seem to have a magnet at its center, drawing everyone in the house toward that one room. The source of its pull is not simply the need for food – kitchens have an innate sense of homey sustenance and sociability. They are the places where everyone congregates, and that requires space.

Designing a kitchen with enough room to accommodate family gatherings, social get togethers and relaxed day-to-day living was the objective for architect Todd Main.

The spacious family home was created by converting two Victorian-style townhouses in Chicago's historic Mid-North District. As partof the process, Main repositioned the walls to open up a generous space for the kitchen and adjacent family room.

"People always end up in the kitchen," he says. "I wanted to create the sense of openness that is essential to modern living, with enough space for everyone to have room to move or relax and enjoy themselves."

Main chose a clean, modern look for the kitchen to add to the open feeling. For the cabinetry, he selected warm Brazilian cherry to match the brown fossil tracings in the French limestone floors.

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A black granite countertop adds a classic touch and provides a durable surface that stands up to daily wear and tear. In bright contrast are the polished stainless steel backsplash behind the stove, the elongated drawer handles, undermounted sinks and streamlined appliances.

The cabinetry reaches almost all the way up to the 12-foot ceilings, with plenty of storage on the upper shelves for items that are used only occasionally. Extra-wide drawers within easier reach offer ample space for day-to-day requirements. The upper cabinets have undermounted latches to keep the sight lines at eye level clean and simple.

With functionality in mind, Main designed cutouts and counter space into the cabinetry beside the Sub-Zero refrigerator and Gaggenau side-opening oven to provide a handy space for hot and cold items taken from the appliances.

An overhead arch subtly distinguishes the kitchen area from the family room and conceals heating ducts. Recessed lighting on dimmer switches makes the kitchen usable without creating a bright glare in the family room. For privacy, a pocket door at the end of the kitchen can separate these family living spaces from the more formal dining and living rooms.

First published date: 24 August 2003

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Credit List

Architect and interior designer Todd Main AIA, Bauhs Dring Main (Chicago)
Cabinets Brazilian cherry with book-matched veneer and satin finish
Countertops Black granite
Backsplash Stainless steel
Flooring St Croix honed French limestone from Rossi
Lighting Halo low voltage cans
Oven, stove, steamer, grill and hood Gaggenau
Microwave GE Monogram
Refrigerator Sub-Zero
Dishwasher Bosch
Waste unit In-Sink-Erator
Wine cooler Viking Professional