From Dark to Light: Brightening Up a Bungalow Kitchen in Chicago

Photo by Ryan McDonald

When a young couple moved into their suburban-Chicago bungalow, they had visions of transforming the dimly-lit, dated kitchen into a bright and welcoming space.

“But then came careers and kids and the next thing you know, it’s 10 years later,” says Robin Titus, of interior design firm R Titus Designs, who swooped in to help when the homeowners – a husband, wife and their young children – finally had enough of the dark room with little storage, minimal countertop space and an awkward flow.

Photo by Ryan McDonald

The Oak Park bungalow’s small kitchen held promise but offered a smorgasbord of flaws. A split corner sink tucked away in a dark corner gave way to a winged countertop that left the family without workspace on either side of the sink. The cabinetry’s silhouette was long overdue for an update and the owners had resorted to temporary metal shelving to make up for lack of cabinet space. One light in the middle of the ceiling was the only source of light. Lastly, a small doorway and an odd layout from the kitchen to the dining area was confusing and unwelcoming – not the ideal situation for a family on-the-go.

“The house is always busy,” says Robin. “Careers, school schedules and cats.”

So, Robin and her team got to work, bringing the kitchen into the 21st century while keeping the conservative, traditional vibe of the home. They started by knocking out a wall between the kitchen and adjacent sunroom, flooding the space with much-needed natural light and creating sight lines from the front to the back of the house. A cozy dining area is now nestled under the windows in that old sunroom with a built-in banquette for seating and storage, and a traditional-yet-whimsical wallpaper in blues and golds that flocks the walls.

Photo by Ryan McDonald

The serene color palette extends into the working area kitchen, where Robin created a u-shaped design with creamy neutral cabinets and stone countertops along with a two-seater breakfast bar. Opposite is with a wall of cabinetry in warm wood tones that houses a wall oven, refrigerator and a handy coffee nook. For appliances, Robin wanted to bring in new technology and innovative features with a classic aesthetic. With the clients in tow, she set off for the Monogram Design Center in Chicago, a 4,000-square-foot showroom with all of the luxury brand’s offering.

Robin’s original plans included Monogram’s 30” Professional Range but the wife fell in love with the 36” version at the showroom – “There was no talking her out of it once she saw it,” says Robin – which meant more cooking area but less counter space. They made up for some of the space in the wall, where they decided to forgo a double oven and instead buy Monogram’s Smart Five-in-One Wall Oven with Advantium technology.

Photo by Ryan McDonald

“By using the speed oven, we eliminate the microwave space and get the second oven,” says Robin. “It’s a time saver when cooking for a family.”

Rounding out the appliance suite, Robin chose the integrated 36” Bottom Freezer Refrigerator for its smart design, the Custom Insert Vent Hood with dimmable LED lights, and the fully-integrated Monogram Smart Dishwasher whose adjustable racks and quiet operation were big selling points.

For a rather small space, the kitchen now has ample storage, an incredible working triangle, a peninsula, dining nook, and even food storage drawer for the family pets. It looks good, serves the family and has exceeded expectations, Robin says. “Everything just feels good when you’re in the room.”

Photo by Ryan McDonald

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