There’s just something about Paris. The colors, the smells, and the overall joie de vivre of living grand on a petite scale have been inspiring American tastemakers for generations.
So it was only apt that when North Shore designer Jennifer Rahaley met her empty nester clients, the inspiration for their Evanston condo renovation would come from the city of light.
“One of the bathrooms was modeled after a famous Parisian hotel,” explains Rahaley, a designer with DDK Kitchen Design Group, with locations in Glenview and Wilmette. “During the design process, the couple actually went to Paris and brought back objects and details that were incorporated.”
The result is what Rahaley calls the “world’s cutest, smallest little salle de bain”—an elegant jewelry box of a space with a sparkling chandelier, black and cream tapestry window coverings, vintage black and white tiles, and an acrylic bathing tub that sits on antique silver claw feet.
“I love that we were able to steal space for a claw foot tub. It’s one of my favorite rooms,” she says. “You feel like you’ve been transported to another time and place.”
An antique metal sign from the Pharmacie Central in Beziers holds a prominent place in the room, with creamy white painted cabinets, contrasting black built-ins, and marble countertops. The French glamour carries through more subtly to a luxurious red and black brasserie-style kitchen and a second, larger bathroom which was renovated to look as it might have when the building was constructed in 1925.
While Rahaley’s role in the renovation was primarily focused on the kitchen and bathrooms, her vision and influence to pull the project together can be seen throughout.
“It had been redone in the 1980s using the cheapest materials and inexpensive laminates,” she explains. “The homeowners were set on tearing it all out and making it more historically accurate—salvaging original details when possible.”
Decaying drywall was removed to reveal historic, original brick walls and white, hand-painted cabinetry set the stage for a kitchen makeover that elevate what once was a serviceable condo kitchen to a grand scale.
“We tore out layers of linoleum and hand-painted the floor in a black and white checkerboard pattern,” Rahaley explains. The black and white palette comes alive with a gleaming Viking range (French rouge, of course) and matching red appliances. The original butler’s pantry was resurrected and reconfigured with cabinets to look exactly as it did in 1925.
Part of the treasure hunt to put it all back together included securing some original doors found abandoned in the building’s basement, which are restored and now back where they belong.
Rahaley and her clients are beyond pleased with the end result, which now serves as an example of what the French have been teaching us for years—a space does not have to be big to be grand.
“It’s a really small space but it functions really well,” she says, pointing out another detail that is decidedly French. “We even customized a dining space for their little doggie in the kitchen, right under the microwave.”
DDK Kitchen Design Group is located at 1700 Glenview Road in Glenview, 847-998-1552, ddkkitchens.com.