By Marguerite Happe


Step into the spacious, beautifully lit kitchen of Minneapolis restauranteur Stephanie Shimp’s historic Kenwood home, and it quickly becomes clear this is no run-of-the-mill residential kitchen. That welcoming lighting comes from a layered blend of sconces, under-cabinet lights and an art deco chandelier, all on dimmers to create specific effects. That spacious feel comes from an expertly designed floor plan that relegates functional areas to the perimeter and entertaining to the center island. Thoughtful details elevate the room from ordinary to extraordinary thanks to the expertise of Vujovich Design Director Lori Balestri. “The original kitchen was a very small, early 1900s–era space,” she notes.

Shimp, co-owner of Blue Plate Restaurant Company, loved the original art deco aesthetic but literally felt short on space. “I love to cook and entertain, so eventually I needed something more usable than a tiny refrigerator and short 1950s cabinets,” she explains. Today, the revived room marries fashion and function, but with the special touch of a restaurateur who knew which commercial details would make a residential kitchen more effective.

Maintaining the home’s historic charm without sacrificing on size and style was crucial for the Vujovich team. “When Stephanie first came to us, she thought she might need an addition on the back of the home to get the space she wanted,” says Balestri. “My priority was figuring out how to adjust the existing square footage to fit the way modern families function.” Creative workarounds, such as removing a service staircase and opening up adjacent rooms, nearly doubled the kitchen’s size.

“Aesthetically, I translated Stephanie’s personal sense of style into the kitchen,” she says. The foodie appreciates classic, timeless style with character. Balestri opted for a custom BlueStar range with open-flame burners as would exist in a commercial kitchen. The serious machinery is balanced by cheerful hot pink knobs, an homage to Shimp’s signature color.

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