Dazzler of a do-over. Hinsdale kitchen remodel makes neighbor kitchens jealous.


We can finally quit it with the hush-hush stuff and stop talking in code. This jaw-dropper of a Hinsdale kitchen remodel is D-O-N-E done and we’re spilling the story here. Not to go all tabloid on you, but a few starbursts and exclamation points next to these “after” shots would not be out of line. It’s pret-ty over-the-top fabulous.


The homeowners are an independent business owner and lifestyle blogger duo. In the spirit of intrigue, we’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. I, and they are all-caps BIG on entertaining. We’re talking a standing Sunday evening soiree for a small army of friends, with the menu dreamed up, wine selected and eats prepared by Mr. I himself. And let’s just say the existing kitchen setup wasn’t working for them. It wasn’t old-old, but dated enough to be begging for an update. Well, it need beg no more. Update wishes have been granted in the form of a full-on, tear the walls out and start again do-over.

Hinsdale Kitchen Remodel

The I’s weren’t jumping into this on a whim. Judging by the hefty collection of kitchen inspo images they’d amassed, they had put a considerable amount of energy into trying to figure out exactly what they wanted – yet still hadn’t landed on exactly what they wanted. (Enter Designstorms.) The couple’s compilation of photos left us hand-on-chin in thought as we studied them. While the images were really beautiful, they were all over the place, vastly different in style with no common thread.

Kitchen Island – Before

And so our work began. We identified a few key elements that we felt held together as a starting point, then added some Designstorms fairy dust to elevate the overall design. We landed on a classic elegance that fit the rest of the house, while creating a killer showpiece to wow their personal circle of friends annnnd 80,000 Instagram followers. We met three times (that’s it!), to talk ideas, go thru drawings, and review technical details. Then they graciously handed us the keys, put the dinner parties on hold for a few months, and jetted off to south Florida to winter somewhere warmer and less construction zone-y.

When they brought us on board, they had a contractor already rolling. It was Brian Freel of Vine Properties in Hinsdale, someone we’d never worked with, so we were kind of wondering how that would go. Rave reviews. He’s amazing and we can’t wait to partner with him again. He’s conscientious, detail-oriented and possibly a little bit magic. He somehow made it all happen on an insane (most would say un-doable) timeline. We bow down.

Pantry, Laundry, Storage – Befores

We started by addressing some practical, not-super-sexy structural issues by removing walls, and creating a new entrance from the kitchen to the pantry, then another from pantry to mud room – with pocket doors to close that space off when guests were over. We also transformed the space between the kitchen and pantry with a full wine wall that’s far too spectacular to call storage. It’s more of a showcase, lighted like artwork. Even the pantry barn door got some serious design love. Wood? Nope. Glass? Please. This door rocks a delicate brass mesh from England. Detail appreciators will want to get a way-up-close look – there’s a small gold rosette at each cross-point.

Wine Storage Wall + Pantry/Laundry Entry

Faux-finish gold in-lay detail on refrigerator/freezer doors and cabinets

In addition to walls coming down, more floor plan reconfigury came into play with the island. The original square piece was tiered, with minimal workspace and seating, making it not particularly conducive to party-hosting. The new single-height island solved both of those issues, but in order to have it properly centered with the window, it felt short on one end. So we added a solid walnut butcher block to extend the island while maintaining visual balance. On the opposite end, we went more glam with solid 4-inch square acrylic legs. Sounds simple in theory. But the reality? More complicated than you might think. We had a brass foot and cap manufactured to keep the wood floor from showing through the base, and to give us a way to attach the legs to the island top. It also gave us some flexibility to adjust the height in case the floor wasn’t perfectly even (they never are). The fabricator’s initial thought was to use 3/4-inch acrylic with mitered corners and clear glue. How’d that turn out? Let’s just say he knew we’d no-way-no-how approve the prototype. Glue bubbles? Yeah, no. We ended up going with the much spendier solid acrylic version since there was just no way to simulate the clean one-piece look for less. Add that one to the long list of lessons learned on the job. Now we know.

Kitchen Island w/ Butcher Block

Kitchen Island – Before

With three kids (and now another on the way!) the I’s knew marble wouldn’t be the most practical surface, but loved the look. So we opted for something similar, but more likely to hold up to real life and the spills that come with it: White Fantasy Quartzite. We went a little crazy with it, doing the perimeter countertops, island, hood wall annnnd the entire backsplash, wrapping the whole wall around the window above the sink as well. The slabs were just. That. Gorgeous. Fortunately, we made that call before the cabinet maker had gotten started, so we could customize the cabinetry depth to account for the extra layer on that wall.

To keep the overall look from becoming too feminine, we opted for soft gray on the cabinetry and thicker, heartier knobs and pulls from Buster and Punch. Then we added a custom touch with a hand-painted gold faux finish on the inside bevel on some of the cabinet doors. Seemed like overkill to carry that through the whole kitchen, so we reserved it for the wine and fridge walls, which flank the opening from the kitchen to foyer. The range hood was another key piece – a custom stainless base accented with the subtle contrast of mixed-metal details for more of a wow factor. The antiqued brass strapping is punctuated with polished nickel rivets, so we repeated that polished nickel finish on the perimeter and island faucets as well.

For the dining table, we sourced a unique metal base, but wanted a wood top instead of the marble slab the vendor was showing with it. So we designed a custom top and stained it to match the rift-sawn fly-over, hand-painted gold detailing and all. Then we varnished it to stand up to everyday family use. But there was one hiccup. When the base showed up, we realized the angled poles had no flanges for attaching the top. We ended up having to ship it to the tabletop maker so he could drill holes through the base to securely attach the wood top.

Herringbone Ceiling Install – 3/4″ Oak

To add drama without bringing the ceiling height down, we installed a grayish-brown herringbone wood pattern with 5/4-in oak boards all the way across the room, then layered on 3/4-in boards to create the feel of beams while maintaining as much height as possible. Full disclosure on the light fixtures: the surface mount lights are from CB2(!), proving the perfect pieces aren’t always in the high-roller price range.

To keep the kitchen feeling clutter-free, we integrated as many “contain and conceal” features as possible. Small appliances sit on a rollout shelf with a pull-down door to hide them when they’re not in use. We even moved Mrs. I’s desk to the pantry, so the mail and school/sports forms are tucked away out of view. The couple also mentioned liking steel doors, so we painted the kitchen window frames and mullions black and built a barn door to mimic the steel look – with thin mullions, and keeping it tight to the frame so no light seeps through. The hardware is on the dining room side to keep the kitchen side clean and uninterrupted.

In the mud room off the pantry, we went with a patterned cement tile floor and wood finish on the cabinets to hide dirt – it’s the same color family as the kitchen fly-over, but the shade is 3x lighter. We kept the coat-hook area open vs designated cubbies, and included a full-size closet built out of cabinetry vs drywall for a more custom look. We even built-in a stackable washer/dryer with a pull-out shelf for folding.

Let the record state that this couple showed an inordinate amount of trust in us – relocating 1,300 miles away during their Hinsdale kitchen remodel and not popping in even ONCE to check up on the project. Seriously flattering. Actually kind of mind-blowing when you hear so many people’s stories about reno’s gone wrong. Throughout the process, we’d text them different options on things like stain color or hardware style and get a prompt, fully confident reply along the lines of, “Whatever you think is best.”

Fast-forward four speedy months after we started ripping out walls – it was time for the big reveal. Those often don’t feel like the big ta-daaa you’d imagine since the homeowners are typically onsite ALL THE TIME peeking in on things. But this? This was the wide-eyed, gasp-worthy kind of reveal we wish we could do every time. We felt like we should do an extended arm sweep in front of every cool finished feature. And now we get to share that reveal with you, Storm Inspired staging pieces and all. If you see something here you’re into, get in touch. We do like talking kitchen remodels – or whole house reno’s, new construction – any and all of the above. We’d love to hear what you have in mind!

It was kinda like “Hi, I’m Amy… do you like your new kitchen?”

Thanks for reading!

See more from Designstorms here. Or shop Storm Inspired, our Amy Storm-curated online/retail store that’s open to anyone! Ask about custom options. Definitely doable.

Until next time…

All photos by Picture Perfect House (Thanks Marina!)

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