A New Kitchen

About the same time, a "Eureka!" moment struck. One night, David Raino-Ogden, a local architect, was over for drinks. Raino-Ogden, who had worked with the wife's father and her contractor brothers, told her she could have the great-room kitchen she desired, and the extra bedroom, without packing her bags. "What they wanted was to cook and talk and watch Cubs games together, but the existing layout ¬≠wouldn't let them do that," says Raino-Ogden. The small kitchen was in the older, front part of the house. The dark, paneled rec room was in the added-on back of the house—and not a place you wanted to hang out. An adjacent office didn't get much use, either.

Raino-Ogden suggested the best way to grow the kitchen would be to relocate it to the office. Though it wouldn't be easy to snake plumbing through the narrow crawl spaces, bumping out just 2 feet for a square bay of windows overlooking the backyard would fill the kitchen with light and views. And taking down a couple of walls would make room for a good-sized table, and open up the kitchen to an adjoining family room.

The new kitchen is not only warm and bright, it is stylistically more in line with the vintage of the house, with custom Craftsman-style cherry cabinets and red-oak floors. Updating the look are a pro-style range and twin wine fridges built into the bi-level island, which has concrete countertops instead of the usual granite. ("We wanted it to be different from everyone else's," says the wife.) There's even room for a desk nook with a computer.

And, in the spirit of neighborhood preservation, the owners commissioned a muralist to hand-paint a picture of what the area would have looked like in the mid-1800s—rolling green acres with winding dirt roads, mature trees, and a few modest homes. The mural frames the bay window bumpout that faces the backyard.

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