Inspired by restaurants, a Chicago designer combines beauty and productivity in a compact space.

By Christine Quinlan
Updated May 24, 2017
Credit: © Mike Kaskel

People think home kitchens have to be huge, but that’s inefficient—you walk around in circles,” says Rebekah Zaveloff, owner of KitchenLab Design in Chicago. Instead, she creates space-efficient kitchens for clients, including star chef Michael Symon, that look to restaurants for inspiration. Consider her generous use of Carrara marble tile in the space above. “When you walk into a restaurant there’s a reason for a lot of tile—it’s easy to clean,” Zaveloff says. “Plus, having it go all the way up the walls calls attention to high ceilings.” In this project, she also mimics restaurant kitchens by placing all the cabinets beneath the countertops to create a feeling of openness. And she had a local company called Avenue Metal make an oversize restaurant-style hood, built in three parts so it would be easy to install.

Zaveloff prevents her kitchens from feeling commercial with an eclectic use of materials, a reflection of her years at art school, where she focused on collage, and her work in film set design. In addition to the marble tiles on the walls, this kitchen has both limestone and marble countertops and a mix of metals like antique brass on the Morela lighting fixtures from Crate & Barrel, polished steel drawer pulls by Sugatsune and a stainless steel Wolf range. She explains, “I try to create an environment that unfolds slowly so as you take it in you think, Oh, look at this—oh, look at that.”

The stainless steel exterior was installed in three pieces.

The Kohler Karbon pull-down folds out of the way. $1,332;

A raised border keeps liquid from dripping off.

The 3-by-6-inch Carrara marble tiles are from Waterworks. From $27 per sq. ft.;

Credit: © Mike Kaskel

The sideboard and cabinets are painted Midsummer Night by Benjamin Moore, one of Zaveloff’s signature colors. The custom glass and stainless steel cabinet doors nod to the streamlined, industrial look of restaurant kitchens.

Credit: © Mike Kaskel

Zaveloff came up with a clever use for what might otherwise have been dead space: She mounted a Kohler Karbon pull-down faucet on the small wall next to a prep sink. The sink is to the left of the stove so the faucet can double as a pot filler. $1,707;

Credit: © Mike Kaskel

Mounted on the marble-lined walls are a 1930s rotary phone, which still works, and, above it, a 1950s light fixture. Both add an element of whimsy and surprise to the sleek, modern design.

Credit: © Mike Kaskel

Closets in the dining room have steel hinges and pulls that resemble those on turn-of-the-century iceboxes. The cabinets above hold platters and baking sheets. From $23;