Sunday, February 24, 2013

Designing Our French Inspired Kitchen: Abt Showroom Chicago

Happy Sunday afternoon!

We are back following a short break!  We have missed posting but in our time away we have accumulated some great information and photographs to share with you in future posts.

Today kicks off a series of posts dedicated to the design of our French inspired kitchen. We have shared a few of our appliance choices in a prior post which you can still view here:

Our French Inspired Kitchen: Selecting a Range

In one of our first posts we shared how we found our architect, Jack Arnold.  It was his kitchen that captured our attention from the very first time we viewed it reading a fellow bloggers post.  Many of you have seen this photograph before, but we want to show it once again just to set the stage for the design inspiration of our kitchen.

One of the problems we keep running into as we design our home is actually being able to view any quality materials before we purchase them.  For those of you living in or around larger cities; consider yourselves lucky!  In Indiana we have no LaCornue showroom, no Lacanche showroom, and only a small number of Wolf and Subzero showrooms that are 1-2 hours away.  There is not a single Rohl faucet or sink to be found in any of our local supply showrooms.  It sounds more and more like we live in the middle of nowhere!  Now would anyone be willing to lay down the money for these items without ever first seeing them?  If so you are braver than we are!

That all being said; a few weeks ago we were surprised and thrilled when some close friends from Chicago took us to Abt in Glenview, about 30 or 40 minutes from downtown.  If you are in the area and want to visit you can find Abt at:

Abt Electronics 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Glenview, IL 60025

At first it looked like your average appliance store; lots of washers and dryers, refrigerators, ranges, much like you would find in your typical big box store, but on a MUCH larger scale.  Then, without warning we turned the corner and saw this gorgeous range sitting there.

How could this be?  In front of us sat a LaCornue Chateau Series 65" dual fuel range! It was quite exciting given that we have only seen this model in photographs.  It was very unexpected.  Suddenly Abt became one of our favorite showrooms.

For those of you researching French ranges; it is very difficult to find one with a full size oven.  Nobody has yet to explain why so many french ranges are unable to hold a large size cookie sheet.  Both of the ovens in the LaCornue Chateau line would fill the bill.  There are various configurations for the range top, but this one is set up just fine.  Caution: Have smelling salts in hand before looking at the price tag!
LaCornue Chateau Series 65" Dual Fuel Range seen at Abt showroom 

This particular setup is kept in stock, and available for pickup at Abt.  While speaking with their representatives we also learned that they can get any configuration or model shown on the LaCornue website.

But the fun didn't end there for the LaCornue Chateau Series had friends sitting with him!  We also took a look at this LaCornue 36" range.  This model has a large single oven which is vaulted and a five burner configuration has a great large central burner.  It is dual fuel with gas bake and electric broil.
LaCornue 36" Dual Fuel Range

This is the only LaCornue product we have seen in years past.  Many of us have ran into this model at Williams Sonoma.  It is a mass produced line called LaCornuFe.  I have read that it differs greatly from other LaCornue models as it actually uses the frame and other components from a company in England rather than France.  The LaCornuFe is a 43" dual fuel range with a single five burner configuration which is shown.  It does come in several colors other than the Provence blue featured.  This has been our front runner for some time.  The biggest negative, however, are the smaller ovens which are only big enough to fit the width of a medium size cookie sheet.  The thickness of the oven walls also decrease the height of the ovens.  We would need to purchase wall ovens to make up for the lack of oven space in the LaCornuFe.  It may make more sense to spend a little bit more and purchase a LaCornue, or other brand, with larger double ovens. 
LaCornuFe 43" Dual Fuel Range in Provence Blue 

Many of you have either seen, or may be lucky to already have, a Rohl's faucet.  This is the Rohl's bridge faucet with side spray.  Rohl's faucet's can be described as kitchen "jewelry".  Their quality construction and detail really add the final touches to any kitchen.  This faucet is shown with lever handles, with cross handles being another option. Most of the Rohl's faucets come in Polished Nickel, Chrome, Brass, and Bronze.  We are leaning towards Polished Nickel.
Rohl Bridge Faucet with Side spray 

Now if you are going to have a large range, your also going to need a pot filler.  Who wants to haul that heavy pot filled with water all the way from the sink?  Most of our pots are heavy enough when empty let alone filled with water.  For us this is a must.  Rohl makes several pot fillers, including one that comes up from the counter instead of the wall like this swing arm model.  It too comes in several finishes and has a cross handle (shown) or lever configuration.
Rohl Swing Arm Pot Filler 

This Rohl single hole, single lever faucet without a spray is a great option for an island prep sink.  The single hole minimizes the amount of counter top space used, while the single lever is easy to control when our hands may be messy at the prep sink.
Rohl Single Lever Faucet 

The nice feature about this Rhol faucet is the faucet height and reach.  It has a 14" spout with a 9" reach, great for getting around those large apron sinks we all love.  This faucet is shown in Satin Nickel.
Speaking of Apron Sinks; we found some Rohl Shaw's Original Fireclay sinks. They claim that the Shaw's sink is scratch and stain resistant.  Any feedback on that?  Shaw's makes several sizes, this one being 30" apron.  We are considering the Shaw's 36" apron. 

This bottom grid seems to make a nice addition to the Shaw's sink, but is it useful?  Any feedback?

If you are looking for a stainless steel apron sink, this may may be the model for you. 
I am still trying to figure out if this is a useful counter top feature or not.  This hidden pop up top has an electrical outlet on one side, and an ethernet connection on the other side.  I can see the convenience of having an electrical outlet in the middle of large islands, but I am turned off by the still visible top even when it is closed and "hidden". 

Is it really hidden if I can still see the top?  It kind of spoils the beauty of the counter top. Maybe some reader out there will really like this idea and run with it.
We really didn't get a good shot of what we'll call the appliance courtyard.  Many well known brands (KitchenAid, JennAir, Viking, Electrolux, Wolf, Subzero, Thermador) circle this centrally located room. Nearly every product made can be found in their respected showrooms.  We will share some others in a future post.
As mentioned earlier, Abt carries nearly every line of appliance and electronic on a much larger scale than your typical big box store.  Case and point, you can find anything from a typical 42" flat screen television all the way up to this large multi screen matrix television that I caught Rob drooling over.  Each square is an individual television that can be tuned in to a different station (4 stations being viewed on top) or combined to make a single large screen (12 sets on the bottom).  Don't get too excited, this screen will set you back about 100K!  That is some serious TV viewing.
We hope everyone has enjoyed part 1 of our tour through the Abt showroom in Glenview, just outside of Chicago.  We would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with the products we have shared today.  Maybe your kitchen has a great alternative to one of these brands or perhaps you have found a great deal. We are all here to share and learn, so we welcome any comments.
Our next post in this series of Designing Our French Inspired Kitchen will feature kitchen cabinet designs.  We have been given some great sketches so far and are eager to get some feedback.
Wishing you all a great week!
-Tonya and Rob


  1. I've been loving your blog. We built our french inspired home a few years ago. I wish I had your blog as an inspiration back then! :)

    We do have the shaw sink and, it's scratched and stained. :/ I wish I had that insert from the get go, I do think it would have saved our sink from looking "used" so quickly. Or, I should have gone w/ the SS version. I'm thinking that might have been the better option all the way around. I should add the disclaimer, I have children that do the dishes and they aren't the most gentle creatures around, need I say more? ;) I can send you a pic of our sink, it you'd like to see what 3 years of use looks like from a large family (6 kids) w/o an insert.

  2. Insn't it fun? We did this 2 1/2 tears ago when we renovated our kitchen. I love all the stoves, I would probably choose the silver LeCornie. The sink would be the Shaws and the faucets are all great. Have fun, can't wait to see how your kitchen turnes out! Hugs,

  3. Welcome back, Tonya and Rob! What a great showroom. I share your excitement and could spend hours there!! In my next life, I want that LaCornue Chateau range :) BTW, we love our Rohl faucet set. We have that same side spray.
    Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

  4. I really enjoy your blog, and this post was so interesting - wish I could visit that showroom - I'd be there for days.....

    Definitely go with the insert for the stainless steel sinks. I have a double bowl stainless steel sink about 9 years old now. I have the insert grids in each separate bowl, and the bowls are in great condition. Hardly a scratch on them and I am not gentle with them at all. Definitely worth what ever they cost.

    Thanks for the great post and pics !

  5. I really enjoy your blog, and this post was so interesting - wish I could visit that showroom - I'd be there for days.....

    Definitely go with the insert for the stainless steel sinks. I have a double bowl stainless steel sink about 9 years old now. I have the insert grids in each separate bowl, and the bowls are in great condition. Hardly a scratch on them and I am not gentle with them at all. Definitely worth what ever they cost.

    Thanks for the great post and pics !

  6. As a professional designer specializing in second homes in an exclusive, remote area near Lake Tahoe, I have had the good fortune to work with clients who have budgets that allow the most up-scale appliances on the market, mostly French and Italian-made. They are stunning until something goes wrong. Before you buy, find out who has the ability to repair "designer" appliances and will they drive to your area and what will they charge.
    At the present, one client has found it is cheaper to replace his sexy, Italian ventilation hood ($2,400 plus installation) than have it repaired (the repair man offers no guarantees, and wants many hundreds of dollars just the pursue the problem). Are you prepared to wait many weeks, maybe months, for a part to arrive from France or Italy? Much to my regret, because of our geographical location, I've had to honestly advise my clients to stick with "box store" appliances, as you call them, the kind that can be repaired by someone with only basic skills .
    Also, I have specified Shaw's Original apron sinks to several clients. The sinks scratch quickly and easily. The metal grid does a good job of preventing scratches, but it is a pain. One client uses rubber mats instead. No problems with Rohl faucets. Bon Chance to you both and enjoy the journey.

  7. drooling over the ranges! abt is great. if you haven't made a trip into the merchandise mart in chicago you may want to for inspiration and sources. my husband and i always fall in love with something there!

    smiles to you as you shop!


  8. The ranges are like jewelry for the the black and stainless!!

  9. now the fun begins!
    was just at abt recently, isn't it unlike any other?

    we have a rohl faucet and have had maintenance issues, but would not trade it's beauty for faulty bits!

    i have a love/hate with my shaw's sink. looks; killer, function; maddening. unless it has been improved, the sink does not have any pitch towards the disposal so i am forever chasing bits down the basin

    cannot wait to see your next installment, you have been missed

  10. Yay!! So exiting! I am so glad you find that store. Love the design you are hitting for. The grid? No idea. Looks like more to clean to me...
    Thanks for saying hi!!

  11. Welcome back! I've been gone for a while too.. So exciting! The showroom is amazing and I'm crazy about the range options! Wow! Your kitchen will be gorgeous and I look forward to following along.


  12. LOVE my SHAW sink in the 36" size. It does have a problem with the pitch to the drain. You have to use your hands
    or the spray to clean the sink. I've had my sink for 3 years and don't have any scratches.

  13. Nice post on all the different options. My style is French Country and I'll be downsizing in a couple years and want to build a Jack Arnold home probably a version of the Malmaison. I'm your newest follower and it'll be fun watching you build yours. If you get a chance maybe you can visit my blog. I'm headed to Provence in May for more French Country inspiration and shopping. Take care. Kim

  14. That is one dreamy kitchen - love all those fixtures.

  15. Tonya,
    I remember spotting a lovely kitchen over at Simply Seleta that had a lovely french flair. I think any one of those stoves would be wonderful to have and as for the grid in the sink, I have one and love it. It is useful for letting things drain.
    My sink is stainless and I love it. I do love the look of porcelain though.
    In terms of outlets, I find that the ones that are hidden under cabinets are best. I would only imagine the one that pops up to be another thing to break and it also breaks up the streamline look of the counter.
    Looks like you are gathering some great things for a beautiful kitchen.

  16. Just saw your comment on Coastal Chic and saw you were from Indiana too! I just started a blog I recently posted our kitchen update. Love your blog! I am a new follower! Look forward to following along:)


  17. Great tour. Love this. How beautiful is that blue La Cornue?

  18. I have the sink and it scratched on the first day order the insert. I got one in white but it took a while to arrive. The stove is great but repair time is a problem make sure it is available locally. The rohl faucet I have is bronze and the finish is coming off but not on the nickel, love them both anyway.
    That blue stove is still the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen.

  19. Hello !
    The "La Cornue" are fantastics !
    Céline, French watercolorist.

  20. This is such a great post. I have the sink...I've been careful and it's not scratched yet, but my friend got hers chipped washing the heavy iron grids from her stove in it. This is so exciting!

  21. We have the exact shaw sink and it is VERY scratch resistant. We also have the grid, but removed I after a few weeks since it made cleaning quite difficult. We had to keep removing the grid to get under it and make sure that everything went to the drain. Which brings me to another point: the sink is flat bottomed, but liquids won't completely run to the drain. If this freaks you out, then keep a sponge nearby to coax them toward he drain.

  22. Love the stainless steel sink. Where did you purchase it? It is exactly what I'm looking for my kitchen.

  23. Hello, do you have any information on that pop up outlet? A manufacturer? Thanks in advance.

  24. Must be nice to have money.


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