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CHICAGO, IL — Being told that a kitchen she designed "looked old" is one of the best com- pliments Rebekah Zavelof has ever received. That's because Zavelof, co-owner of Chicago, IL-based KitchenLab, specializes in remodeling vintage homes. The Chicago area designer loves creating spaces that refect elements from a previous time, but the kitchens she designs are also infuenced by her diverse background, which includes everything from restaurant work to designing movie sets. A VICTORIAN LOVE AFFAIR One of Zavelof 's signature projects is a Victorian-era house in Highland Park, IL, on the north shore of Chicago. According to Zavelof, the kitchen was "stuck in the 1970s" when she began her work. The renovation was a big job, which included a total reorganiza- tion of space in order to achieve a large, open kitchen with a breakfast room connected to the backyard. "The space plan should be as appropriate to the existing home as the fnish selection," says Zavelof. "I try to give the spaces we redesign a nod to the past and history of the home." In order to keep the integrity of this par- ticular home and not go overboard, Zavelof used honed Carrara marble in lieu of Calacatta and continued subway tile with charcoal grout around the hood instead of replacing it with a showpiece hood. The wallpaper-lined glass- front cabinets as well as a mixture of diferent metal fnishes added the vintage touch that she sought. In fact, the kitchen ft in so well that a member of the Illinois State Historical Society commented that it looked like the kitchen had always been a part of the house. "It's one of the projects I'm probably the most proud of, because I really tried to make it look like it had always been there," she declares. "We all know that nobody built a kitchen like that in the 1800s. [To say that] it looks like it has always been there – that's a big compliment." Zavelof 's love for vintage homes and, in particular, Victorian homes, began when she was young. While her mom had a love for new homes, resulting in a job selling new-home construction when Zavelof was out of college, Zavelof always had a passion for older houses. "I have a love afair in particular with Victorian-era homes. I love the mouldings, efort, attention to detail and the fact that in this day and age, no one builds like that [anymore]." Neither is Zavelof the only one with an afnity for Victorian kitchens: Her Highland Park kitchen has been added to 140,000 Ideabooks on Houzz. HOSPITALITY IN THE HOME Another large infuence on Zavelof 's ca- reer has been the restaurant industry. Both Zavelof and her husband and business partner, John "Nick" Nichols, have a back- ground in the restaurant industry. Zavelof fnds a lot of inspiration for her designs from some of her favorite restaurants, including the frst restaurant she worked in at age 16 in Columbus, OH: Lindey's. That's where her relationship with the hos- pitality industry began, she notes. After her frst job as a busser at Lindey's (because she was too young to serve alcohol), she continued to work in restaurants on and of for 10 years. Zavelof 's current design philosophy has been greatly afected by her experience in the restaurant industry, where function deter- mines design. "When you're dealing with a high-volume restaurant space, everything from pattern in tile surfaces that are easy to wipe down and clean and mirrors for refecting light to comfortable seating [are important]," she states. Designer Follows 'Vintage Calling' BY ASHLEY LAPIN OLIAN Specializing in vintage homes, this Chicago-based designer is infuenced by a diverse background that encompasses experience in both the restaurant and movie set design industries. The most infuential project of Zavelof's career was a large Victorian house that included a kitchen with honed Cararra marble countertops and subway tile with charcoal grout that ran from the backsplash to the ceiling and around the hood. The designer incorporated mixed metals to add a vintage fair. The reworked kitchen of this Victorian-era row house showcases ink blue District tile from Waterworks, a black and brass BlueStar range, Taj Mahal quartzite countertops, travertine foor tiles, dark walnut cabinets and a custom stainless steel and brass hood. Photo: Rebekah Zavelof Photo: Megan Chafn 36 Kitchen & Bath Design News • July 2016 DESIGNER PROFILE