A Thoughtful Renovation: A Vintage Kitchen Gets a Bright and Airy New Look in a 1930s-Era Brick Tudor Home

Oak Park is known for its dazzling hodgepodge of historic housing styles, and that mix appealed to Jeff and Deb Cogan, who moved there from the city when their two young children were born. “I’m a history buff, and I love architecture and art,” says Deb, who volunteers as a docent at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. “The houses in Oak Park have this living, breathing history.” 

That’s certainly the case for their own home, a 1930s-era brick Tudor with leaded glass windows and a distinctive turret on an ample corner lot. However, especially after living there for a while, the couple realized that some of the design elements were better left in the past. The kitchen was tiny, for example, acting as a bottleneck to the breakfast area – an uninsulated addition that felt cold all winter. And frankly, it needed a facelift. 

To help them address those problems while maintaining a period feel, the couple hired KitchenLab Interiors founder, Rebekah Zaveloff, who had thoughtfully renovated many old homes in the area, including several featured on the annual Kitchen Walk. Deb had also seen her work featured in her favorite glossy shelter publications, never failing to fold down the proverbial corner. “Rebekah combines vintage and modern in a way that feels timeless,” she says. 

After the young family decamped into a rented apartment, Zaveloff, project designer, Katherine Andrejevic, and builder, Gideon Lipnickas, of New Concept 180, kicked off the renovation. To enhance the flow and create more space, they eliminated a pantry, replaced the door between the kitchen and dining room with a larger arched opening and flipped the location of the breakfast area and kitchen – just a few of the many changes.

Flanked by built-in cabinets, a new arched opening connects the new breakfast area with the adjacent formal dining room.  
The breakfast area and kitchen are open to one another and the adjacent formal dining room, creating one large space that’s ideal for entertaining.
The dark wooden window frames juxtapose the white cabinetry, countertops and subway tile in the new kitchen by KitchenLab Interiors.

Now brighter and larger, the newly renovated kitchen is outfitted with classic white perimeter cabinetry, light quartzite countertops and a beveled subway tile backsplash. The crisp white perimeter is juxtaposed by a slate-blue center island underneath a mod chandelier by Jonathan Adler – one of many brass elements throughout, including the outlet plates by Forbes & Lomax, which Zaveloff antiqued in her studio.

When the brass outlets covers from Forbes & Lomax arrived a bit too shiny, interior designer, Rebekah Zaveloff, antiqued them by hand. 
The velvet bar stools from Mod Shop inspired the dusty rose accent hues in the kitchen by KitchenLab Interiors.
A pull-put drawer with upright storage for knives and cutting boards is one of the many conveniences in this Oak Park kitchen renovation by KitchenLab Interiors.
Originally part of a built-in that didn’t survive the renovation, the leaded glass windows now add a touch of vintage charm to the new cabinetry in the butler’s pantry.

The warm metal flows into the breakfast area, where brass mesh doors with a diamond grill elevate the new built-in cabinetry flanking the entrance to the formal dining room. An abstract painting atop a graphic wall covering by Phillip Jeffries takes things up a notch, creating a dramatic backdrop for a vintage walnut pedestal table paired with a linen-covered bench and oak and leather chairs. 

A nod to the original leaded windows in the butler’s pantry, the breakfast area’s new cabinetry features brass mesh door panels with a diamond grill.

“I know Deb wouldn’t be satisfied with basic, so we kept adding layers,” Zaveloff says. “We kind of went all out, and I just love the way it turned out.”

Not just a place for additional storage, the handsome butler’s pantry also includes a built-in desk with a walnut top. The chandelier is from Arteriors.

The designer’s favorite space is the spacious, light-filled butler’s pantry. There, a light tone-on-tone wallcovering from Lee Jofa complements the wood-paneled backsplash and custom cabinetry, where Zaveloff re-used leaded windows from an original built-in that didn’t survive the renovation. In front of the window, a walnut-topped desk serves as an ideal space for Deb to work. “It’s sunny and bright, so it’s great for Zoom calls,” she explains. 

In the butler’s pantry, a painted wood-paneled backsplash pays homage to the original architecture. “Tile would have been too utilitarian, and wallpaper would have been too fancy,” says interior designer, Rebekah Zaveloff. “This feels vintage and authentic.”

Entertaining is also a pleasure in the newly redesigned abode. One of their first soirees was a Halloween tea party attended by throngs of children. As the parents conversed in the dining area, they could easily keep an eye on the costumed kids in the breakfast area, where they dined on dough-wrapped hot dog mummies, “witches fingers,” and pumpkin-shaped cookies. 

The wall covering by Phillip Jeffries is one of the many layers that interior designer, Rebekah Zaveloff, incorporated into the new breakfast area.
Painted wood wall paneling, a built-in bench and porcelain tile flooring completely transform the mudroom while paying homage to the home’s history. “It’s important to balance warm and cool tones,” says interior designer, Rebekah Zaveloff.
Timeless is the idea in the newly renovated master bathroom, which sports octagon floor tile, subway wall tile and an elegant painted vanity with brass hardware.

“It’s fun to be here,” Deb says. “It’s fresh, open, sunny, elegant and usable all at the same time.”


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Tate Gunnerson

Tate Gunnerson is a Chicago-based freelance journalist with an equal appreciation for natural beauty and good design. He is a passionate supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.