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When interior designer Tracy Cimba set out to redesign this suburban Chicago kitchen, she had one clear directive: family-friendly. With three kids under the age of 10, dozens of local family members, and busy work schedules, the homeowners knew their old farmhouse-industrial cookspace wouldn’t cut it. 

“They recently bought the home and while they loved the kitchen layout, it wasn’t the gathering space they had in mind,” Cimba explains. “The original kitchen looked good from afar, but it sported a DIY paint job and the cabinet doors were literally falling off the hinges.” 

Armed with Semihandmade’s BOXI line and a serious storage and seating game plan, Cimba was able to revamp the kitchen in just one month. Ahead, she dishes on all the unique family-friendly details that brought the space to life.

Warm Up the Palette

Cimba’s first order of business was to scrap the cold black, white, and gray color palette. “Between the gray countertops, white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and black hardware, the space felt more like a commercial kitchen,” she notes. Instead, she went with a mix of BOXI’s Salt Shaker cabinetry, soft blue-gray Mushroom Shaker cabinetry, creamy quartz countertops, brass hardware, and warm wood open shelving. “Coupled with the pops of color in the decor, it feels much more kid-friendly.” 

Integrate the Appliances 

Put off by some of the more industrial features, Cimba and the family agreed on a modern, built-in look. They swapped out the stainless steel hood for a custom drywall number to match the cabinetry, built out a painted island packed with storage, built the microwave into the island, and did a DIY panel job on the dishwasher to create a seamless look. 

Pack in Additional Seating 

The old space sorely lacked enough seating for their family gatherings, so Cimba found a solution in the center island. “We extended the island countertops on two sides and added five additional seats,” she notes. “I wanted to make sure the entire family had a place to sit and gather around the island.” 

Double Down on Storage

Because they had a lot of counter space but not a lot of storage, the family loved the idea of adding on-counter cabinetry. “We were able to double, if not triple, the storage space in this kitchen,” she adds. In addition to BOXI cabinetry, Cimba went for Semihandmade’s SSS Black Beaded fronts. “They now have a designated home for a coffee bar and small appliances, plus two pull-out garbage cabinets, a hidden spice rack, and a kid-accessible hutch for plastic cups and dinnerware.”  

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We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.