Mark Peters, AIA, engaged in some imaginative planning for this do-it-all kitchen in a slender single-family house of his design in urban Chicago. His clients wanted contemporary style with generous space to entertain, but they knew hectic schedules would mean leaving dishes in the sink on occasion. Peters' innovative solution sections off a 112-square-foot corner of the 500-square-foot kitchen as a convertible space: enclosed, it's a work area; open, it's a kitchen extension for larger gatherings. “We treated it as two different kitchens,” he says of the dual-purpose design.

Double-wide, wenge-veneered sliding doors close off the working kitchen, where every appliance but the island cooktop resides. The thin profile of the dark gray concrete block partition wall—along with 10-foot-high ceilings, white laminate cabinets, stainless steel countertops, and translucent glass walls on either end—create an airy atmosphere even when the doors are closed for meal prep.

An ample kitchen island anchors the open area beyond the doors. The island's drawer-filled stainless steel core drops down at one end to support a large wenge table, giving the clients the informal dining area they craved without compromising floor space.

A 12-foot-wide glass door system just east of the island opens to a 750-square-foot deck, more than doubling the kitchen's size when the weather is nice. “We like to make indoor and outdoor spaces flow as easily as possible,” Peters explains, “to simplify entertaining.”

architect: Studio Dwell Architects, Chicago
general contractor: Ranquist Development, Chicago
resources: cabinets: Arclinea Arredamenti; cooktop, dishwasher, and ovens: Miele; exterior door system: NanaWall Systems; fixtures: Dornbracht Americas; refrigerator: Sub-Zero