Airoom Architects, Builders & Remodelers, Lincolnwood, Ill.
In a nutshell: The old kitchen featured two islands, an unused desk area, and black granite countertops that made the space feel dated, cramped, and dark. The family room that looked out onto a private Lake Michigan beach was separated from the kitchen by a load-bearing wall with a pass-through just 42 square inches wide. The homeowners wanted a kitchen with more natural and artificial light, a single island, in-kitchen seating, and creative use of storage that allows for seamless movement from prep to cooking areas.
Solutions: The Airoom team removed the wall from the family room, posted temporary supports, then brought in an internal lift and four crew members to install a steel beam spanning 25 feet in the ceiling. This allowed for an uninterrupted view of Lake Michigan from the kitchen. The designers didn’t want to block the vista with pendants or chandeliers, so they dropped the ceiling about 9 inches to create a squared rim of cove lighting, tucking a series of can lights inside.
The carved limestone backsplash was chosen for its organic look, with tactile peaks and valleys intended to bring the aesthetic of sand-dune patterns indoors.
The quartz island countertops pick up on the color of the limestone backsplash and feature a 3-inch mitered edge. Peruvian walnut was chosen for the raised bar area. The deep reddish hues of the exotic wood provide a visual contrast with the herringbone-pattern maple floor.
See the full list of winning entries here.