It was late spring when I visited Art and Chelsea's Chicago kitchen, and the vibe and tastes reflected that perfectly: Warm enough for an open balcony connecting from the kitchen and spring-y enough for fresh herbs seeming like a very new indulgence. The kitchen itself also reflected a newness and originality not always a given in loft conversions.
The space came equipped with a brand new kitchen that didn't suit Art and Chelsea's vision of cooking and eating at home. So, they sold the entire thing and splurged in the room they value the most. A full Bulthaup-clad kitchen frames the room, and the original partial wall that separated cooking from dining was also removed. The now-seemless design and dine experience is both visually stunning and very, very tasty (we were greeted with a Spanish torta, spring greens and flan with orange zest...see the slideshow captions for all details!)
The Kitchn Questionnaire
What's your cooking style?
Fresh, inspired, healthy, spontaneous, creative, global.
What inspires your kitchen?
The seasons, travel, ingredients.
What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Dishwasher! (Our first dishwasher since living together.) Rotisserie attachment in the oven, exhaust hood, pull-out pantry, heated floor between island and sink, Microplane, wine key.
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
I was once told by a restaurant owner that if I wanted to be a chef someday that I should also spend time cooking at home. Season as you go. Your tongue is your greatest asset as a cook.
Biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Making a mess (Chelsea). Deciding what to cook sometimes.
Dream tool or splurge:
To have a small CVAP cook and hold oven, sous vide machine and Paco Jet ice cream machine.
What are you cooking this week?
Spanish tortilla with peppadew romesco, grilled spring onions, balcony herb salad, icicle radishes with butter and sea salt, sugar snap peas with extra virgin olive oil, flan with almond cake and orange confit.
What cookbook has inspired you the most?
We’ve been inspired by many cookbooks. Chelsea is very much into the technical side of cooking so I know that she likes On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. She is also very much into baking so the cookbooks from a couple of our favorite bakeries, Boulangerie and Tartine. She also loves the desserts in Pierre Herme’s cookbook. We are both enjoying Morimoto’s cookbook right now and Fergus Henderson’s St. John cookbooks. I seem to go to the Zuni cookbook and the Chez Panisse cookbooks the most.
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Probably the most recent Easter dinner. We had the family and several friends over for a Southern style Easter dinner complete with an aged Smoky mountain ham and buttermilk biscuits.
The kitchen was new when we bought our place but it was basic. That kitchen is now making someone else happy. We now have a kitchen that is completely outfitted by Bulthaup. The cabinetry, sink, faucet, backsplash, plant pot and knife rack, island, recirculating exhaust hood and recycling bin are all Bulthaup.
I had a 220 v. outlet added before I moved in so that I could include an electric wall oven in my new kitchen design. The oven is by Gaggenau and has a rotisserie feature. The four burner gas stove is also by Gaggenau. The refrigerator by Liebherr has a bottom freezer and an ice maker. The dishwasher is a Fisher and Paykel dish drawer.
The floor in the kitchen and throughout the house is a 12” x 24” honed, porcelain tile by Casagrande Padano. The floor in between the island and sink is heated by Sun Touch radiant heating.
Off of the kitchen is a bar with additional kitchen storage that I built into a former closet space. The cabinetry is from Ikea, surface is 2 3/4 “ Indiana limestone, glass tile from Tile Outlet, cable shelves from The Container Store and custom cut glass for the shelves from Torstenson Glass in Chicago. Espresso machine is by Rancilio.
Chelsea and I planned and completed quite a few projects ourselves and the kitchen cabinetry was installed by Bulthaup, but none of these visions could have been completed without the help of my Dad, an incredibly talented contractor.
• Visit Art and Chelsea's blog: The Pleasant House
Related: My Great Outdoors: Art and Chel's Modern Balcony Kitchen
Images: Evan Thomas