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Chicago Penthouse Bread Baker's Kitchen by Fred M Alsen of fma Interior Design

Chicago Penthouse Bread Baker's Kitchen featuring Greenfield Cabinetry by Fred M Alsen of fma Interior Design.

Expanding a dark, enclosed kitchen into a large, bright, but functional space for an avid bread baker posed several design challenges. The original kitchen was divided by a wall from the dining room, which had large windows facing onto a magnificent eighteenth-story city view. The client wanted to remove the wall in order to open the kitchen to the windows. Yet the client, who loves to cook, did not want to lose useable working space. In addition, because the apartment is located in a high-rise condominium, the plumbing could not be moved, requiring us to anchor the prep area around an inconveniently-located sink. In addition, the client insisted on a large bread area with a butcher’s block countertop that needed to be balanced against an otherwise modern aesthetic.


We solved the workspace concerns by creating three work zones. Zone one uses one side of the island and countertops around the sink to build a prep area. Zone two groups the cooktop, refrigerator, and an undercounter oven into a cooking space. An 18-inch inset in the island creates a three-sided work area around the cooktop. Zone three provides the client with a large end-grain mesquite butcher’s block worktop and a French-door wall oven for baking. To extend the kitchen into the former dining room, we used a handmade face plank mesquite counter-height breakfast bar with a hand dovetailed waterfall leg that echoes the waterfall on the island. The bar provides an eating area that allows diners to look out the windows onto the city lights and stunning sunsets while simultaneously permitting the cook to keep an eye on pots on the stove. By using wood on the breakfast bar, we tied together the two sides of the kitchen, wrapping the modern white matte glass-fronted cabinets in the warmth of the deep reddish hues of the mesquite. The bar lays directly on an American-quarried soapstone countertop shot through with quartz veining that mirrors the grain in the wood. A cork floor offers a soft support for long hours of cooking, and acid etched mirror glass backsplashes bounce light without reflections. A colorful glass cityscape mosaic behind the sink mimics the views out the window and, along with a wall of vintage food posters, brings splashes of color into the kitchen.

Chicago Bread Baker's Kitchen.  Design by Fred M Alsen of fma Interior Design.