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When Jennifer Razor walked into Bespoke Redesign’s Chicago showroom, she was decisive. She asked designers Tracy Cimba and Erica Ashe for a sleek, black-and-white kitchen maximized for entertaining — and fast.

Cimba, a Semihandmade and BOXI partner who specializes in layouts and customization hacks, immediately got to work on the storage plan, while Ashe, a detail-oriented e-stylist, focused on the aesthetic vision. The duo collaborated to achieve Razor’s dream hosting setup in her historic, open-concept River North loft.

First, Cimba and Ashe ripped out the early-aughts, overly-orange kitchen that was installed when the former factory was converted into condos. Then, they knocked down a wall to eliminate the inconvenient L-shape. “It was your run-of-the-mill, builder-grade kitchen,” Cimba describes. “Not much thought was put into it.”

The women replaced it with a single-line arrangement, an 8-foot island equipped with a bar refrigerator for cocktail parties, and a lounge-inspired aesthetic that sets an alluring mood. Ahead, Cimba and Ashe share how they teamed up to craft a city kitchen that feels like a swanky restaurant in the very best way.

Honor the History

The apartment’s best features are its high ceilings and exposed original timber beams, which the previous kitchen managed to squander with matching warm wood tones. “It was taking away from the beautiful vintage architecture,” Ashe recalls. “It was important for us to maintain and highlight that, so to create contrast that would draw your eye up.” With a stark black-and-white palette, the natural materials shine.

Get Creative

Razor was instantly attracted to the BOXI by Semihandmade Peppercorn Edge cabinets for their chic, dark look, as well as their preassembled state and quick turnaround time. She was also adamant about having panel-ready appliances for uniformity. “From the living and dining area, she wanted the kitchen to appear like an extension of the furniture,” Cimba recalls. 

Since BOXI doesn’t offer a 24-inch refrigerator panel, Cimba got creative and used a side panel instead. “There is no Peppercorn detail on the fridge, but because it’s framed out with panels, it has the illusion of a raised edge,” she explains. “She wanted her big island to feel like a table, too, which is why we added the little leg detail with L-shaped filler pieces.”

Curate a Vibe

To pull off Razor’s desired luxurious lounge vibe, Ashe opted for a deeply veined quartz counter and backsplash that extends to a strategically placed ledge. “If you don’t have a natural breaking point to stop it, you have to go all the way up, which obviously gets pricey,” she reasons.

This cost-saving measure allowed Ashe to splurge on a trio of Cedar & Moss light fixtures that truly steal the show. “Most kitchens have a focal point of a hood above the range, but we weren’t going to go that route,” she says. “We did three gorgeous sconces instead — they’re very bold. They create a nice symmetry across an otherwise empty, blank space.”

The finishing touch was a slew of chunky brass handles from Restoration Hardware. “She really wanted to have a little pizzazz, a little sparkle,” Ashe notes. The golden-hued metal acts as the jewelry of the cupboards, providing glamorous flare to complete Razor’s entertaining oasis.

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