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Chic Chicago Kitchen

When Midwest Living was invited to design a kitchen space for the National Kitchen and Bath Association's Design Idea Center in Chicago, we drew plenty of inspiration from the city itself.

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    One of the rooms we built for the Kitchen and Bath Industry show.
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The Art of Entertaining

Rooftop living, thriving in Chicago's revived older neighborhoods, guided the design of the rooms we built for the 2006 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, which was attended by more than 60,000 design professionals. Our kitchen has a contemporary look inspired by the city's skyscraper sparkle, yet offers indoor and outdoor spaces for connecting with family and friends at under-the-stars dinner parties or sunny outdoor celebrations.

INTERACTIVE COOKING

What fun is entertaining if the cook is separated from the guests? Today's perfect party keeps everyone together for socializing, eating and even preparing food. We planned our large island as a gathering spot for those wanting to be involved in the meal preparation. The island features a five-burner cooktop and a secondary Kohler Pro CookSink, where you can wash and cook vegetables or pasta without making trips to the main sink. Guests who just want to visit with the cook can sit at a dropped counter that wraps around two sides (making it a good place to serve canapes).

CONVENIENCE TIMES TWO

A pair of full-size refrigerator/freezers handles extra food demands for party crowds. Two refrigerator drawers in the island keep cheeses fresh and produce handy to crudites serving areas. We placed a large professional Kohler sink near the main dishwasher. It's packed with multifunction capabilities, thanks to a strainer, cutting board, drainboard and high-arc faucet with pull-down spray for filling large pots and rinsing dishes. Under a pass-through to the sunroom, cabinetry outfitted with a trough sink and two additional dishwasher drawers acts as a secondary holding and cleanup area for glasses and flatware. The sink also can hold iced drinks for guests.

PARTY FLOW

The U-shape island topped with Cirrus White DuPont Corian directs partygoers in a circle around the kitchen. Double entries on two walls of the kitchen make it easy for guests to navigate the entire space. The room's deliberate horizontal lines, large windows and pass-through create an open feeling.

HIDDEN ORGANIZATION

A floor-to-ceiling built-in "hutch" of cabinets to the right of the sink area functions like a pantry, organizing dishes, food and cookware. We used KraftMaid upper cabinets with frosted glass over the sink counter to allow maximum light flow in the room, keeping dishes and glassware displayed, but softly obscured. Large drawers on either side of the sink are outfitted inside with plate and pot-and- pan organizers, and abundant cabinet space in the kitchen and the sunroom keeps cookware and servingware stored where needed.

CONTRAST SPARKS DESIGN

In an urban space, old and new can benefit from each other. Original brick walls, now painted white, cohabit nicely with eye-catching new elements. We used glossy, brown-and-white Venicia cabinetry by KraftMaid; silver ceiling beams; and Crossville's porcelain tile wrapped in skyscraperlike stainless steel. Dark chestnut Mannington wood floors warm up the cool KitchenAid stainless-steel appliances and metal accessories. Cooking and serving areas are delineated clearly: White DuPont Corian solid-surface countertops serve hardworking areas, and dark brown Zodiaq quartz covers service areas. Sensuously curved decorative lighting from Artemide softens the kitchen's straight horizontal and vertical lines, adding mood with Leviton dimmer controls.

OUTDOOR CONNECTIONS

Large windows over the main sink offer sweeping views. Two entry doors on either side of a cutout wall between the kitchen and the sunroom make them feel like one room, sharing light and scenery.

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