Chicago brownstone home gets an unlikely kitchen renovation

The kitchen renovation that broke the rules 

When you create a kitchen that defies convention, you likely have a good reason for it. Such was the case for author and food writer Stacey Ballis. A gourmand by passion and profession, Ballis chose to define her kitchen space by tasks, rather than the traditional triangle-shaped layout of today’s standard. Why?

kitchen-8“A lot of people thought we were crazy with the layout of our kitchen,” Ballis explained.

“Choosing to model a home kitchen on a zoned restaurant kitchen takes away all of the “rules” we were taught about home kitchens. So we were already outside the box when we created a zone for both cold and pantry storage, two zones for cooking sharing one prep space and one cleaning space and a separate zone across the room for baking, all of which does require some thought about how to organize yourself.”

A year later, her kitchen is the capable hub of holiday parties, quick weeknight meals and elaborate weekend dishes, and she wouldn’t change a thing.

“It works PERFECTLY.  For the way we cook, it has been a godsend.”

A primary element in her kitchen design is a massive 72″ refrigerator freezer combination unit from Marvel. It spans across the back wall and is positioned for easy access near the food prep work station. And every square inch of its spacious interior is put to full use.

“The 72-inch side by side has completely changed our lives for the better,” Ballis says.

“Suddenly there is room in the freezer to really sock away stuff, so I can finally make big batches of homemade stock like I always wanted to, and not take up the whole freezer.  That includes stashing old bones and carcasses and veggie scraps until I have enough for stock.  I can start prepping for holiday meals a month out.  I can put full sheet trays in the fridge!  The fridge stays organized with the help of a bunch of clear plastic bins, and I always know where everything is.  But I no longer have to remove all of the regular inhabitants when I load in groceries for a big party…everything just fits! Glorious.”

And, in another zone of her kitchen, Ballis chose a 24″ Marvel Dual Zone Wine Refrigerator to preserve her husband’s favorite wine varietals and libation accoutrements.

kitchen-7

“The wine fridge has been really great,” Ballis says.

“Charming Suitor [her husband’s nickname] keeps it full of a variety of everyday wines, as well as the vermouth, Lillet, and other cocktail making supplies that used to take up a ton of room in the regular fridge.”

Ballis also has a 15″ Marvel Single Zone Wine Refrigerator, but this model serves an inventive dual purpose. As it so happens, the wine refrigerator is also the ideal environment for the long-term preservation of…cheese!

“The cheese fridge has been wonderful, we are getting twice to three times the life out of our cheeses and charcuterie as we used to in the regular fridge!”

With her ingenuity and experience with fast-paced commercial kitchens, Ballis was able to transform an 800-square-foot kitchen into a highly productive space for entertaining, proof that some kitchen design “rules” are worth breaking.

Recreate the Look:

ML24WD Marvel 24" Dual Zone Wine Refrigerator | Right Hinge
ML15WS Marvel 15" High Efficiency Wine Refrigerator
MP36RA2 Marvel Professional Built-In 36" All Refrigerator | Left Hinge
MP36FA2 Marvel Professional Built-In 36" All Freezer