Photos by Dave Burk for Hedrich Blessing Photographers

You don’t have to be a professional chef to have a well-stocked, beautifully designed kitchen. You just have to call the right designer. Home Editor Tate Gunnerson has found three kitchens we love in Evanston, Glencoe and Wilmette.

Greener Pastures

Eco-friendly finishes cut a classic profile in the home kitchen of Wildfire’s chef partner, Joe Decker, and his wife, Kim.

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When Wildfire’s chef partner Joe Decker and his wife Kim decided to embark on an environmentally friendly renovation of the kitchen in their Wilmette home, they sought help from Evanston-based architect NateKipnis, FAIA, and Chicago-based interior designer, Michael Del Piero.

“I wanted our interior environment to be as healthy as possible, but there were so many choices that I was feeling overwhelmed,” Kim explains. “Nate and Michael both did a great job of listening to us and the ideas we had.”

The designers transformed the former builder’s special into an uber-functional space with separate office and dining areas as well as an adjoining pantry and mudroom.

“It’s not an overly big kitchen, but there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Kipnis says.

Ecofriendly materials include ultra-efficient LED lighting, sustainably harvested woods and pressed-paper countertops.

“It has a really fabulous color that looks like bluestone,” Del Piero says.

As one might expect of a cook’s kitchen, the space has also been outfitted with top-of-the-line appliances, including a 3,000-pound gas-fired, Woodstone wood-burning pizza oven— a last minute request by Decker.

“You flip it on, start cooking and by the time your guests come, you’re ready to rock,” Joe explains. “This kitchen is a lot of fun to work in.”

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Counter-Intelligence

After an extensive renovation by Thomas Shafer Architects, a bright and spacious kitchen is ready for its close-up. While the kitchen may be the heart of the home, some beat harder than others.

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Nicole Putzel’s is a prime example: when the trained chef and mother of two is not preparing meals for family and friends, she blogs recipes at putzelkitchen.com, films instructional videos and hosts private culinary classes—all out of the spacious kitchen that Tom Shafer and Scott Crowe, of Thomas Shafer Architects in Evanston, created in a seamless addition to her and her husband’s Tudor-style home in Highland Park.

“The original kitchen was pretty small and kind of a dated mess,” Shafer explains. “Nicole really wanted a bright and open feeling kitchen, but she didn’t want to lose the flavor of the house.”

Beamed ceilings with beadboard, face-frame cabinets (some with ribbed glass) and hand-scraped hickory floors allow the bright, airy space to conform to the home’s Tudor style architecture.

“It’s a very bright and cheerful space,” Shafer explains.

Although the renovation meant that the Putzels had to move out of their home for a year, Nicole says that the result is well worth the wait.

“It can be nerve-wracking to do a big renovation, but Tom and Scott were extremely patient and attentive,” she says. “They did a phenomenal job.”

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Period Piece

Old-world character meets modern conveniences in this scullery-inspired kitchen in Glencoe by KitchenLab’s Rebekah Zaveloff.

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An authentic vintage aesthetic was really important to these clients,” says KitchenLab founder, Rebekah Zaveloff of Austin and Pamela Rothbard’s kitchen in Glencoe.

Formerly a side-by-side galley-style kitchen and butler’s pantry, Zaveloff joined the spaces, relocated the sink to a newly created center island and clad the wall with subway tiles. Black moldings and grout create interest and contrast.

“Balancing the white subway tile with black is really important to getting that high-contrast look,” Zaveloff says.

To create the old-fashioned kitchen that her clients envisioned, Zaveloff brought in a mix of materials, including oak and painted cabinetry, Carrara and stainless steel countertops and bronze and nickel hardware (patina included).

“We sorted through old latches and hinges to see which were the least beat up, but a few of them still have a lot of rust on them,” Zaveloff explains. “That’s what you would see in an old house because they age at different rates.”

The result is an old-world sensibility without sacrificing the latest in modern conveniences.

“We have a 1929 house and we wanted something that felt organic and old-fashioned,” Make It Better contributor Pamela Rothbard says. “This kitchen has a lot of character.”

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