Phil and Laura recently became empty nesters after having lived in their Buffalo Grove home for 27 years.

The kitchen and connecting eating area with a fireplace were in dire need of updating and now seemed like the right time to do it. They had thought about minor upgrades, but Laura really wanted to spend more time cooking, entertaining and enjoying her kitchen, so Phil decided to give his wife the French country kitchen of her dreams.

“We thought maybe we will just (minorly) update the kitchen,” Phil mused. “Then we said because the kids were grown, we would just go for it and get what we really wanted.

They wanted to update the kitchen and hearth room to reflect a French Country style while changing the original octagon-shaped island into a more functional space. They also wanted their kitchen to work better together with the eating area to be more conducive to entertaining returning family and friends. The open pantry was a bit of an eyesore, and they needed the cooking area to be more aging-friendly. There were also issues with cold drafts around the fireplace and bay window that they hated.

With all of their needs and wants in mind, Laura and Phil began their search for a home remodeling company. They came across the Advance Design Studio, and designer Michelle Lecinski came to their home in Buffalo Grove to meet with them. Phil and Laura were extremely impressed with the transparency of the process presented, how prepared Michelle was and how comfortable she made them feel.

“Michelle came in and I was sold,” Laura said. “Her ideas were really fun, and she wasn’t pushy. It just felt comfortable.”

The decision to move forward with Michelle and Advance Design was easy and affirmed by the way Michelle followed up with Phil and Laura after their appointment. She kept a consistent line of communication open throughout the decision-making process.

“I think the most fun I had was the first time we went into the studio,” Phil said. “She put the graphics (3D Illustrations) up, just like you see on T.V. and what she was showing us was our kitchen with all of our ideas laid out so we could picture it and make any changes we wanted.”

Michelle helped Phil and Laura develop a design they loved complete with unique ideas and special details that Laura said they never would have thought of without their designer’s help. Laura especially loves the wood countertops on the new kitchen island and buffet; using the unique furniture-like material was something that never crossed her mind.

“In a tricky shaped room, we were able to include a highly useful yet decorative furniture-like island with an elegant wood top to serve as a hard-working prep space within the work triangle,” Michelle said. “Even Cocoa Puff, the family’s small dog has made herself at home tucked on a ledge made just for her in the island.”

The French country kitchen renovation features Dura Supreme Kendall Inset Cabinetry in a weathered gray Heritage finish with Amerock satin nickel hardware. Black Saint Gabriel Granite countertops provide a pleasing contrast while giving Phil and Laura a durable, easy-to-clean surface when cooking. The cream Tessen Arabesque tile backsplash pulls the whole kitchen renovation together, meshing perfectly with the black countertops and the gray cabinetry. A large farmhouse sink with a Kohler pull-down faucet was added, and the ovens were relocated and installed at an ergonomic height that is easier on Phil’s back.

“To enhance hospitality functions, we added a coffee and tea bar around the corner out of, a once, under-utilized pantry space,” Michelle said. This area has become the favorite must stop place for the couple in the morning as they prepare for their day. It also provides a convenient and attractive beverage station for visitors when entertaining.

The couple hated how guests could see directly into the pantry. So the old pantry was closed off from view, and a custom shelving system was designed and installed creating a much more efficient, yet now hidden storage space. Laura’s treasured Kitchen Aid mixer was tucked conveniently inside a prominently located cabinet with a lift, so she now can easily pull up the stand to counter-height and not have to wrestle the appliance out from between other small kitchen appliances in a crowded pantry. This small little detail made Laura extremely happy!

Michelle is always looking for small ways to enhance the use of often wasted space and add design details that most would not even think of. One such surprise is the use of a 6” deep space designed right around the corner of the new range wall, where a convenient mini-pantry cabinet is hidden containing just enough storage for quick go-to items like dog treats, vitamins, snacks and other things you don’t want to have to dig through your pantry each day to find. Along with subtle furniture-like details and carefully chosen finishes, Michelle always aims to delight her clients with thoughtful details that only a seasoned artistic designer like her might think to include.

A high value during their experience with Advance Design, Phil and Laura praised the consistent and open communication they received from Michelle, project manager DJ Yurik and the carpenters. It made the process stress-free, eliminating any doubts they had that the project would finish in the estimated timeline. “There was progress every day. We knew what was going to happen and when, who was coming in and for how long, and that level of communication never stopped throughout the whole project,” Phil said.

Laura was particularly impressed with how Advance Design’s carpenters left their house when work was finished for the day. “You knew when people were going to show up,” Laura said. “When the project was over for the day our house was tidy and clean.”

The communication and cleanliness were a huge part of the project’s success according to Laura and Phil. The happy client experience can be attributed to a great team who wholeheartedly are ambassadors for the company’s “Common Sense Remodeling” approach that makes renovating with Advance Design enjoyable and as pain-free as possible.

The hearth room remodel was a critical part of the project as the two spaces ultimately function as one. The fireplace was refaced with a light and bright limestone lifting the dark cast of the original brick. The hunky oversized mantle, the focal point of the room was crafted from a rough Douglas Fir; shaped and finished by Advance Design’s master carpenters. Laura and Phil were so impressed by the custom making of their fireplace mantle, they refer to it now as a “family heirloom” made just for them with lots of care and love from “their carpenters”! Even the black metal strapping was specially sourced by the team to make the end result just perfect.

“Next to the kitchen table, we custom designed a multifunctional furniture quality credenza with a hutch that stores wine bottles,” Michelle said. “It features beautiful mirrored doors and concealed strip outlets (that don’t interrupt the backsplash design) for powering catering hot plates.

This elegant wall has become a favorite feature in their home and the bonus is how highly functioning the beautiful buffet piece is for hosting. They now have family and friends over without having to worry about having enough space to serve and entertain. “The end result was a design solution that solved both the function and styling that reflects this couple’s taste and lifestyle,” Michelle said. “They will be making lots of new family memories in this new space.”

Phil and Laura could not be happier. After 27 years Laura finally has the French Country kitchen she’s been dreaming about. “We had a great time,” Phil said. “…working with Advance Design Studio really made it a fun project and it just turned out beyond our greatest expectations.”

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