About KitchenLab

USA - IL - Chicago

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KitchenLab is a Chicago-based, full-service design firm specializing in kitchens and baths: the rooms that so often start as the focal point for many of the projects we design and manage. With offerings that include space planning, drawings, custom cabinetry, interior design, and project management. We also collaborate with architects on additions, gut rehabs, and custom homes. We work in the city and surrounding suburbs, as well as on select projects in southwestern Michigan. Our work has been featured on Houzz, House Beautiful, This Old House Magazine, Trad Home, Lonny, Renovation Style, Kitchen and Bath Ideas, Country Living, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s, Chicago Home + Garden, and CS Interiors. Co-founder and Director of Design, Rebekah Zaveloff, is a Certified Kitchen Designer and Houzz Contributor. She brings her passion and enthusiasm to the table on every project, and wants her clients to simply love their spaces. Rebekah began her career working in set design for film and television. Her design work is highly influenced by her fine art education, working in various media including painting, collage, sculpture, photography, and film. During her years in art school, Rebekah worked in restaurants and she thinks that it’s no coincidence she found her niche in kitchen design. Her passion for food, wine, art, and design, combined with her collaborative style and the natural inclination for taking care of people create a synergy that influences the work she does at KitchenLab. She works closely with people to create spaces tailored to each client’s needs, tastes, and budget, always offering unpredictable and unexpected ideas. Rebekah’s studies include University of California, Los Angeles, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Harrington Institute of Interior Design. John “Nick” Nichols (Co-Founder & CFO), brings an extensive background in the restaurant industry to KitchenLab, as well as years of experience in rehabbing buildings. Nick and Rebekah met in a restaurant that he was a partner in, and soon they were collaborating on the design of a three flat brownstone in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, and naturally, marriage and the formation of their business soon followed. In addition to being an amazing home cook, foodie, oenophile, and all around space planning muse, Nick oversees Kitchenlab’s e-design program and divides his duties between CFO, office manager, and project manager.

Ten Questions

What’s your go-to classic color choice?
Doesn't get more classic than black, white, and brown. But I like to find rich and interesting versions of this palette - dark navy that reads as black, a rich bark brown-gray, and off whites that aren't really white at all, but more of a putty. I personally have a thing for the pink found in Kilim rugs and purple cone flowers, but not everyone goes for pink!
Is there a hotel that’s most inspired your work while traveling?
I've had a thing for hotel lobbies since I was a kid - they're amazing for getting lost and feeling invisible even though you're surround by people. The lobby's of the Ace Hotel in Portland and the Soho House in Chicago are two of my favorite spots. But my newest obsession is the courtyard garden at the Freehand in Miami, and the 2nd floor of the adjacent Restaurant 27. I love cozy lobbies with lots of comfy low cafe tables and arm chairs to sit with a glass of wine and read or plan my day. That said, we really prefer vacation rental homes when we travel versus staying in hotels. It's so much more fun to experience a place like a local, by going to the market and cooking at home. When a home is designed to entertain, or house a family visit, it's a great education in what works and what doesn't. Living in a place for an extended amount of time is the only way to get a true feel for that.
Which pieces of technology do you use to document design inspiration?
My iPhone camera! And Pinterest for cataloging products I find online.
Where do you go to spot new style?
My sister for anything fashion-related. Instagram. Walking around London - It's a melting-pot of culture, music, design, and fashion. There's so much individuality there, and thank god the food has gotten so much better since the first time I visited.
Do you have a favorite restaurant (for the design and the food, of course)?
There's no way I can pick just one! For me it's not just about the food, it's also about the vibe and the space. I'm all about hospitality and making people feel comfortable and welcome is a core value for us, having come of age in the restaurant business. Au Cheval and Lula Cafe (Chicago). Al Di La Trattoria (Brooklyn). The courtyard at the Oak Tavern in Miami. Duke of Wellington (London). Thistle (McMinnville, Willamette Valley, Oregon). Harvest and Curio in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
What’s your favorite small museum in the world?
Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, truly the most magical place on earth. I would build a cottage in the sculpture garden if they would let me.
How do you usually start your weekend?
Driving to our Michigan farmhouse, unloading the car, having a glass of wine while walking around the yard with our 3 year old, and always being amazed how beautiful it is there.
Who or what is your biggest design influence?
My mom, the 70's in general, restaurants, and real people with real homes that they've nurtured for a lifetime.
How do you keep it all together?
Gratitude and trying to remember what's important, every minute of every day if necessary. Not saying I do, but at least I try. Oh! And Evernote!
Design a garden: groomed or freestyle?
As much as I'd like to say groomed, freestyle is way more me. I guess we all need to have something to aspire to!
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