Modern Design Blog

Chicago loft kitchen

A Chicago loft kitchen creates beautiful continuum with its surroundings

We interviewed interior designer Thomas Riker of jamesthomas about the kitchen he and his partner, James Dolenc designed for a stunning Chicago loft space.

Terrace of the loft

What was the concept for the entire house?

THOMAS: The home is for two busy professionals who love to cook and entertain so the home had to both fit that lifestyle and function as a place for the clients to relax and simply hang out after a busy day at the office. Since it is a loft space, we wanted to capitalize on the open concept and have all the main living spaces flow into each other.  All of the rooms have the same color scheme to help visually link all the spaces.

Living and dining rooms near the kitchen

What was the client's main functional goal for the kitchen?

THOMAS: First and foremost, the kitchen needed to function as a cook’s kitchen.  Aesthetically, it needed to work with the rest of the space because it is sort of the central hub of the house - opening onto the living and dining areas as well as an adjacent wine/lounge room.  It also needed to have a formal elegance since it was going to be seen by anyone visiting the space.

Chicago loft kitchen

It really feels like there is an amazing continuum between the kitchen and the rest of the home. How did you accomplish that?

THOMAS: We did that by carrying over the same color palette that is used throughout the entire home and using some of the materials found elsewhere in the living space:

  • the front face of the island is clad in the same stone tile as the fireplace
  • the pendants over the island are from the same family/manufacturer as the chandelier over the dining room table.

That’s really what made the difference in creating a cohesive space.

View of the kitchen and the living room

Why did you choose Snaidero kitchen cabinetry and the Idea cabinet line in particular?

THOMAS: We looked at Snaidero’s entire range of products and the clients were drawn to both the color and the texture of Idea.  The added texture provides a warmth that is reflected in the natural materials found in a heavy timber loft (brick, wood beams, etc.)

What was the most challenging part of this kitchen project and why?

THOMAS: We ended up reconfiguring the kitchen from its original location to be able to completely reimagine the kitchen space.  We loved how we were able to open up the kitchen to the living spaces but with that came the need to keep the kitchen looking good even when the clients are hosting dinner parties. Typically, we don’t raise the island with a second tier but in this instance we felt it was important to do so. It allows the client to hide dirty dishes and cooking clutter from the guests’ view during a party.


  • Backsplash: “Elevation, Extrados” by Oceanside – color: cane iridescent
  • Front face of the island: Vintage small format Rockface, available from Materials Marketing
  • Countertop: Caesarstone, Lagos Blue
  • Pendants: “Chainmail” by Ochre
  • Barstools: Bertoia Barstools

General Contractor: Steve Danciutiu of Stecor Construction (773-715-1765)

Snaidero kitchen designer for the project: Shawna Dillon, Studio Snaidero Chicago

Photo credits: jamesthomas

Shots of the wine room and the bathroom

About the Designers:

James Dolenc and Thomas Riker

Founded in 2003, jamesthomas is a full service design firm specializing in comprehensive interior architecture, interior design and decoration services.  From collaborating with builders and architects in the design of a custom family home to reimagining a city penthouse, the firm provides each client a structured design process.

Clients receive individual attention, ensuring that the project reflects their unique taste and style.  jamesthomas breaks from tradition and charges a set design fee for each project and does not mark-up on furniture, furnishing or contractors.  All trade discounts are passed directly to the client.