This Indigo Icebox in St. Paul Gives Us Chills

Something old, something new, and a striking shade of violet blue take this kitchen by LiLu Interiors from lacking to lovely

Photos by Kory Kevin Studio

Nestled in St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, this kitchen’s indigo pantry wall makes a colorful statement.

Sometimes, when a homeowner is ready for something new, the solution is something old. That was true for LiLu Interiors’ client, a physician who had recently purchased a 1923 Dutch Colonial in St. Paul. “We worked together on her Uptown [Minneapolis] loft, but after 10 years, she wanted a change and was drawn to the history and charm of older homes and neighborhoods,” explains Lisa Peck, the owner and principal of the Minneapolis-based interior design firm.

A dining set from the owner’s previous home ushers midcentury vibes into the new kitchen.

The traditional two-story was just the right size and had period details the homeowner wanted. Still, the main floor lacked a powder room, and the sad kitchen (think beige linoleum flooring, honey-hued cabinets, and chipped Formica counters) needed a serious overhaul. How? Adding more color was a given. “Our client likes color and, of course, so do we,” says Peck of herself and colleague LuAnne Silvia, who also worked on the project.

Their task was to create a more functional space for cooking and entertaining, but the first order of business was locating a spot for the powder room. They found it in a useless nook at the rear of the kitchen that conveniently aligned with the back hallway. It required the construction of a new wall that slightly reduced the kitchen’s overall footprint, but their clever design actually increased storage space via a pantry wall.

The indigo “wall” is actually a bank of cabinets with a pull-out pantry, shallow cabinets, and open shelves. Icebox-style doors and latches add vintage charm, while the bright color keeps it current. Three polished nickel sconces complete the look and serve an important purpose: “We wanted to be able to see what’s inside the pantry at night without dealing with shadows from a recessed light,” says Peck.

A delicate backsplash tile adds a touch of pre-war vintage to the coffee station.

Closing off a stairwell that led into the kitchen allowed for more counter space, a coffee station, and storage for souvenir travel mugs. Clean Cambria countertops mimic Carrera marble in a nod to the home’s pre-war vintage, as does the delicately patterned backsplash tile.

A peninsula with hanging cabinets had previously separated the kitchen and dining room, but the cook now has open sightlines to the front of the house. On the dining side, the space flows comfortably. The homeowner’s midcentury table and chairs from her loft fit perfectly in the space, while a curvy glass pendant and blue-and-white fabric valances tie it all together.

Peck and Silvia’s design also includes elements the client plans to add at a later time, like a built-in buffet and counter-depth refrigerator. “Putting the budget into the bones and adding new appliances and furnishings later is smart,” says Peck. “And until then, the homeowner can fully enjoy the function and beauty of this space.”

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