Kitchen Tour

Ellen & Greg’s Renovated Loft Kitchen

published Jan 29, 2014
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(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

Who cooks and eats here: Ellen & Greg Gartland
Where: Chicago, IL
Rent or Own? Own

Ellen and Greg Gartland’s simple and beautiful kitchen is a result of the pair’s creative approach to renovation. “Rustic elegance,” might sound like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what the Chicago couple achieved in the design of their loft. Ellen describes her kitchen as a “beautiful workhorse” where she can prepare meals with her husband and teach their kids about good food.

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

The Gartlands’ loft is in the heart of Chicago’s hip and bustling Wicker Park neighborhood and was one of the first buildings in the area to be converted into timber-loft condos. “We wanted a place with history and we got it, this was built at the turn of the century as a canvas awning factory. It went condo in 1989, and just the basics were here.”

The Gartlands upgraded their kitchen from “just the basics” to a space where beautiful design meets practical functionality. The large open kitchen provides enough space for friends and family to gather and cook together and the sleek appliances and simple shelving double as design elements.

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

10 Questions for Ellen (and Her Kitchen)

1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Our kitchen was inspired by our apartment building, one of Wicker Park’s first timber loft condo conversions. We wanted a place with history and we got it. This was built at the turn of the century as a canvas awning factory. It went condo in 1989, and just the basics were here. When we renovated we wanted a kitchen that looked like it belonged, not something that was retrofitted, and reclaimed materials were the answer. The open shelving was created from reclaimed beams and the cabinets are from an old barn in Missouri.

2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
The cast iron pan we received from Greg’s parents. Unsure how old it is but it’s the most versatile tool in our kitchen. We use it for eggs in the morning, grilled cheese at lunch and veggies and oven roasts at dinner. The enormous farm house sink is a close second. We can bathe both kids in it!

3. What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever cooked in this kitchen?
We love to cook and are introducing cooking to the kids. Our son has been sitting on the counter helping chop vegetables and watching the stove top bubble since he was our daughter’s age. He is two and a half and loves to do food prep with his crinkle cutter. The first time we roasted purple cauliflower he was blown away by the color and was so excited to chop it. He had seconds and thirds!

4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Keeping it clean! Chasing around a toddler and a baby means a constant flow of dishes.

5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
We have brushed zinc counters. We love the look and they were fairly inexpensive, but the problem is they corrode near water. The area behind the sink is a constant battle.

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Our Blue Star oven. It is fully functional but a beautiful design element. At 30 inches wide you can roast a turkey and four sheet pans of vegetables—we did it this Thanksgiving!

7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
Our refrigerator was great for a couple but is always full now that we are stocking more for a family. We have been on the hunt for a long time for a replacement that still fits the space. It’s a challenge to find something counter depth that won’t break the bank.

8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Simple, rustic, fresh. We spend more energy sourcing ingredients than we do cooking, and the ingredients guide what we cook more than any recipe.

9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
We took a knife skills class from a chef friend and when she taught us how to properly chop onions it kind of blew our minds.

10. What are you cooking this week?
Braised short ribs with polenta, roast chicken, pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs, hamburgers, collard greens, Caesar salad, grilled cheese, steel cut oatmeal…what aren’t we cooking? This kitchen is a beautiful workhorse.

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

Resources of Note:

  • Dacor Range
  • Blue Star Oven
  • Bosch dishwasher
  • GE fridge
  • Zephyr hood
  • Cal’s kitchen is Pottery Barn kids
  • We make our coffee with an Aeropress!
(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)
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