The Vijuks have lived in their Oak Park home since 2010. It felt worn out and out of date, and it was in dire need of better working systems that could serve this busy family, both aesthetically and functionally. We stepped in to help make that happen, updating bathrooms, creating a gorgeous bespoke laundry room, and updating first-floor fixtures and furnishings - combining beauty and purpose in each space to give their family of five a home they could all live and thrive in comfortably.
We talked to Gail Vijuk recently, now that she and her family have settled into their renovated home. In all, KMI updated 3 bathrooms, the laundry room, and first-floor furnishings and lighting for this family.
KMI: What were the pain points that you were most excited to address?
GV: Where to start? Our house was ugly, outdated, broken, and non-functional. The laundry room was a disorganized nightmare – I dreaded doing laundry! Now my favorite part of our new space is the laundry room – it's a pleasure to do laundry now! Each space has been completed both beautifully and functionally.
The laundry room was a completely different space when KMI first set eyes on it (see below). Peeling
wallpaper, strange closets, and leaking pipes. From drab to downright lovely, we customized the space to fit the family’s needs – custom sweater racks and space for six laundry baskets, just to name a few! Now there is plenty of counter space for folding and sorting along with a laundry sink.
Who knew that laundry might actually be fun, once there is function involved?! Monkeys playfully perched on the Venetian facades of St Mark’s Square is a design bonus that completely elevates the space; it’s a laundry room and a statement piece all at once. It’s bold without being overbearing. And recently got the nod from the home diva herself, as it was featured in a Martha Stewart article about finding joy in doing laundry.
KMI: What advice do you have for others on selecting a designer?
Gail: Find a designer who gets you and who is able to understand the function that you want and need – not just the look you’re going for. That’s exactly what Kathryn did for us. As far as contractors go, the most important part is finding someone who you trust and whose communication style meshes with your own. Be prepared for bumps in the road – nothing runs on the schedule or according to plan, especially in an old home.
On its last legs, we gave the primary bath a new lease on life. The Vijuks loved blue and green hues; we think the ombré effect makes the bathroom both vibrant and calming, drawing you into a relaxing space. The custom-made octopus mural (designed by Chicago-based muralist Megan Greene) helps transport you to another place, somewhere with a little extra whimsy and wonder while the other elements of wainscoting and cabinetry still matching the traditional architecture of the home.
We chose a traditional tile wainscoting and paired it with the Kohler veil tub. Its unusual shape helps balance the lines around the rest of the room and ties it all together. The custom vanity also holds plenty of storage. Gotta love it when beauty and function go hand in hand!
The closed-in shower and unusually short vanity, along with the original raised bathtub tiled platform all combined to make the room feel dark and small. We opened everything up so the light from the original window shines through and the space feels open and bright. The custom vanity and towers hide a laundry hamper and trash can, as well as a host of personalized storage features.
The shower boasts gorgeous ombre glass tile from Fireclay and features a rainshower and body sprays for a luxurious experience.
This before photo of the primary bath showcases the increase in both beauty and function from the renovation. Once featured in Better Homes and Gardens, the 40 years since that last full renovation had taken its toll on every aspect of the room.
KMI: As part of this series of projects we also updated the main bathroom for the family, making it much more functional for their three children. Our design brief was to create a bright, clean, and functional space with plenty of storage that would suit the home even after the children had grown.
A 43" vanity with plenty of storage replaced the tiny pedestal sink (replacing the older radiator with a slim line unit and removing a closet bump-out created this space) and the too-small tub was switched to a spacious shower. The historic window could not be changed, but we protected it with a stone surround and glass insert. Classic tile details kept things clean and open with subway wainscoting with fun textural detail. The navy and orange notes, along with the gray and white, also note local sports team colors important to the family.
KMI: How would you describe working with Kathryn?
Gail: She really listened and understood us through the process, resulting in great spaces and great partnership – and now a friendship.
KMI: How did this design influence other items in your life?
Gail: The design has inspired me to let go of a lot of things that no longer serve us. It makes for a happier home.
It was such a privilege to be part of the next 100 years for this 1880s home as we worked to bring it into this century while honoring its past. Creating beautiful, functional spaces that allow everyone to flourish is what we live for here at Kathryn Murphy Interiors.
Laundry Room, Primary Bath: Erin Konrath Photography
Main Bath: EM Photography
Laundry Room: Studio 912 Bespoke
Primary Bath: Touch of Class Carpentry
All Fixtures: Brizo
Primary Bath Tile: Fireclay
Primary Bathtub: Kohler