Chicago brownstone home gets an unlikely kitchen renovation

The kitchen renovation that broke the rules 

When you create a kitchen that defies convention, you likely have a good reason for it. Such was the case for author and food writer Stacey Ballis. A gourmand by passion and profession, Ballis chose to define her kitchen space by tasks, rather than the traditional triangle-shaped layout of today’s standard. Why?

kitchen-8“A lot of people thought we were crazy with the layout of our kitchen,” Ballis explained.

“Choosing to model a home kitchen on a zoned restaurant kitchen takes away all of the “rules” we were taught about home kitchens. So we were already outside the box when we created a zone for both cold and pantry storage, two zones for cooking sharing one prep space and one cleaning space and a separate zone across the room for baking, all of which does require some thought about how to organize yourself.”

A year later, her kitchen is the capable hub of holiday parties, quick weeknight meals and elaborate weekend dishes, and she wouldn’t change a thing.

“It works PERFECTLY.  For the way we cook, it has been a godsend.”

A primary element in her kitchen design is a massive 72″ refrigerator freezer combination unit from Marvel. It spans across the back wall and is positioned for easy access near the food prep work station. And every square inch of its spacious interior is put to full use.

“The 72-inch side by side has completely changed our lives for the better,” Ballis says.

“Suddenly there is room in the freezer to really sock away stuff, so I can finally make big batches of homemade stock like I always wanted to, and not take up the whole freezer.  That includes stashing old bones and carcasses and veggie scraps until I have enough for stock.  I can start prepping for holiday meals a month out.  I can put full sheet trays in the fridge!  The fridge stays organized with the help of a bunch of clear plastic bins, and I always know where everything is.  But I no longer have to remove all of the regular inhabitants when I load in groceries for a big party…everything just fits! Glorious.”

And, in another zone of her kitchen, Ballis chose a 24″ Marvel Dual Zone Wine Refrigerator to preserve her husband’s favorite wine varietals and libation accoutrements.


“The wine fridge has been really great,” Ballis says.

“Charming Suitor [her husband’s nickname] keeps it full of a variety of everyday wines, as well as the vermouth, Lillet, and other cocktail making supplies that used to take up a ton of room in the regular fridge.”

Ballis also has a 15″ Marvel Single Zone Wine Refrigerator, but this model serves an inventive dual purpose. As it so happens, the wine refrigerator is also the ideal environment for the long-term preservation of…cheese!

“The cheese fridge has been wonderful, we are getting twice to three times the life out of our cheeses and charcuterie as we used to in the regular fridge!”

With her ingenuity and experience with fast-paced commercial kitchens, Ballis was able to transform an 800-square-foot kitchen into a highly productive space for entertaining, proof that some kitchen design “rules” are worth breaking.

Recreate the Look:

ML24WD Marvel 24" Dual Zone Wine Refrigerator | Right Hinge
ML15WS Marvel 15" High Efficiency Wine Refrigerator
MP36RA2 Marvel Professional Built-In 36" All Refrigerator | Left Hinge
MP36FA2 Marvel Professional Built-In 36" All Freezer

No-Holds-Barred Bachelor Pad: Outdoor Kitchen Pavilion in the Hamptons

outdoor bachelor pad featuring Marvel undercounter refrigeration

Kitchen pavilion designer, Michael Rosenberg, Showcase Kitchens of Massapequa; Photos by Tim Cree/Creepwalk Media

Designer Showcase: Bachelor’s Top-of-the-Line Outdoor Kitchen Pavilion in the Hamptons

This stunning soup-to-nuts outdoor kitchen pavilion is the brainchild of Showcase Kitchens partner, Michael Rosenberg, created for his no-holds-barred bachelor client.

The spacious outdoor kitchen overlooks beautifully landscaped rolling hills and is adjacent to a breathtaking infinity pool, built-in fire pit and tennis court. Reclaimed mushroom wood and striking mahogany floors add charm to the structure of the outdoor kitchen pavilion.

Perhaps more well-stocked than most indoor kitchens, the robust outdoor kitchen features a Marvel Outdoor ice machine and Marvel Outdoor kegerator system, Viking range, dishwasher and hood and Lynx BBQ, among other appliances. Rosenberg selected these Marvel Outdoor models on its positive reviews for reliability, a choice well made considering the units are rigorously tested and certified for outdoor performance to withstand elements like rain, corrosion and high temperatures and humidity.  And, the homeowner loves the ease of the controls.

It’s all the accoutrements for the ultimate bachelor pad!

Featured Designer: Kitchen pavilion designer, Michael Rosenberg, Showcase Kitchens of Massapequa
Style: Rustic
Location: Water Mill, New York, a hamlet of the Hamptons

outdoor bachelor pad featuring Marvel undercounter refrigeration

Kitchen pavilion designer, Michael Rosenberg, Showcase Kitchens of Massapequa; Photos by Tim Cree/Creepwalk Media

close up of Marvel Outdoor Twin Tap Beer Dispenser

Kitchen pavilion designer, Michael Rosenberg, Showcase Kitchens of Massapequa; Photos by Tim Cree/Creepwalk Media

close up of twin taps of Marvel Outdoor Beer Dispenser

Kitchen pavilion designer, Michael Rosenberg, Showcase Kitchens of Massapequa; Photos by Tim Cree/Creepwalk Media


Incredible Outdoor Kitchen with Bar, Custom Fire Table and Fireplace with Flat Screen TV



Designer Showcase: Decked Out Outdoor Kitchen Stocked with Marvel Twin Tap Beer Dispenser

This Charlotte outdoor kitchen went from modest to magnificent thanks to the talented team at Fine Edge Landscape Design, who expanded the outdoor living space to include a full granite top kitchen with bar amenities, including a Marvel Outdoor Twin Tap Beer Dispenser. A nearby custom fire table mirrors the granite top and stone base of the dining ledge and adds warmth and mood to the entertaining experience.

And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the team also constructed a massive stone fireplace wired during construction with electrical and audio/visual cables for a flat screen television, creating a cozier, more intimate version of a drive-in movie theater.

Featured Designer: Fine Edge Landscape Design
Style: Granite and Stone Outdoor Kitchen
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina


Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Outdoor Dining with Friends and Family

5 Clever Ways to Design an Outdoor Kitchen with Limited Backyard Space

True to the adage, fresh air and sunshine are good for the soul. Simply stepping outside does wonders to lift your mood, and it’s no surprise more homeowners are electing to take entertaining outside to make the most of warmer months. Whether you like to host summer parties or practice yoga on the patio, adding an outdoor kitchen certainly awards you with more personal fulfillment in your free time.

If you’re challenged by limited backyard space, it doesn’t mean this wistful outdoor experience is unattainable. You just have to work smarter! These five tips will help you plan an outdoor kitchen small in size but big on features.

1. Choose Compact, Space-Efficient Outdoor Kitchen Footprints Marvel-Outdoor-Kitchen-Footprints

To evaluate the possibilities in the space you do have, first consider the must-have fixtures for your ideal outdoor experience, such as a grill or cooking area, outdoor refrigeration for cold beverages, food and ice, perhaps a built-in dispenser for cold draft beer, or maybe a plumbed sink and prep counter.

Then determine the optimum location to accommodate your wish list. We suggest staying close to the house – it grants easier access to inside conveniences, less steps away. Consider nestling the footprint into a corner, against a house wall or opt for a modular kitchen island for additional food prep space.

Need ideas? These four outdoor kitchen layouts (at right) will help you maximize outdoor space.

2. Select Adaptable Outdoor Refrigeration Storage

Your outdoor appliances often determine your overall kitchen size. mo24rf-popChoosing a refrigeration solution that accomplishes many things and occupies minimal space is wise for small spaces. It’s also critical to select reliable, high-performance appliances specifically built to weather the elements.

Marvel Outdoor recently introduced an all-in-one outdoor appliance solution, CSA certified for outdoor use, the first and only of its kind. The new 24″ Marvel Outdoor Refrigerator and Freezer centralizes the best features of a refrigerator, freezer and ice maker into one dynamic 24” footprint, a new advancement ideal for small outdoor kitchens.

Engineered with Dynamic Cooling Technology, it cools rapidly and provides precise temperature stability even on the hottest days. And its durable, low-maintenance stainless steel exterior is tested to endure harsh sun, rain, corrosion, humidity and extreme temperatures.marvel-outdoor-new

3. Look for Portability

Rather than committing to bulky fixed pieces, consider more flexible options that can be stacked, folded or tucked away to maximize space. For example, stacking or folding chairs can be brought out or put away to match your guest list count. Kitchen carts on wheels can provide you with more food prep space or double as a serving station. And, Marvel Outdoor Single Tap and Twin Tap Mobile Beer Dispensers are built on sturdy casters to follow the party, whether it’s tailgating parties at home (homegating) or on the go. The only beer dispenser capable of housing a full keg with 4-in-1 storage configurations, these outdoor kegerators are versatile enough to not only fit multiple keg sizes but also convert to a full refrigerator.

MO24BSSMRS Marvel Outdoor 24" Mobile Single Tap Beer Dispenser

4. Give the Illusion of Spaciousness

There are tricks of the trade that’ll have your eyes convinced your outdoor kitchen looks larger than it is. Lighting will be your best friend, especially task and accent lights to brighten the space, enhance mood and improve visibility. Another technique is bringing in reflective high-gloss surfaces or positioning a decorative mirror to reflect natural light and beautiful elements in your backyard.

Visual optics will give the appearance of greater length and width, so use lighter monochromatic colors, clean lines and flooring patterns to your benefit. Streamline storage with built-in solutions and employ multi-functional pieces to remove clutter. Look for small-scale versions of the fixtures you want, such as a slim work island and lightweight seating.

5. Add Shelter

Considering you’ve taken the steps to invest in an outdoor kitchen, it would behoove you to also ensure you can enjoy it the most days of the year. Adding a pergola, overhang or even a simple umbrella offers cool shade from the hot rays of the sun, protecting you and your guests from sunburn. With shelter, you can languish in the refreshing smells of a calm summer rain without getting drenched. And, more practically, it helps extend the longevity of your outdoor kitchen.

Note: Professionals recommend adequate clearance between a grill and the structure’s ceiling and designing for proper ventilation.

Marvel Outdoor RefrigerationWith these savvy techniques to magnify the utility of a small space, and a little ingenuity, you can create a beautiful outdoor living area that packs quite a punch!

Related Articles:
• High-Efficiency Outdoor Kitchens
• How to Winterize an Outdoor Refrigerator

Home Theater with Wet Bar

Designer Showcase: Basement Home Theater Room with Marvel Wet Bar

The designer describes this East Coast basement renovation as “a movie-lover’s dream”, which includes a wet bar with a Marvel Beverage Center, a comfortable sectional and a large screen and projector. The vibrant colors, rich wood finishes and Hollywood-themed art energizes the room and lends plenty of personality.

Make sure to check out our recently released collection of undercounter refrigeratorsbeverage centers, wine cellars, ice machines, beer dispensers and more…all perfect complements to a fully stocked energy-efficient home bar.

Featured Designer: Haddad Hakansson Design Studio
Style: Modern
Location: Belmont, Massachusetts



Cottage Wet Bar

Designer Showcase: Baseview Cottage Wet Bar

With beautiful cornflower blue cabinets and wide-plank pine floors, this traditional cottage wet bar provides a pop of color and a functional entertaining area with our Marvel Beverage Center at its center.  You’ll find the stainless steel finish works with a variety of design styles, from ultra-contemporary to traditional.  Browse the new Marvel collections to see which model suits your home entertaining needs best!

Featured Designer: Forward Design Build
Style: Traditional
Location: Detroit, Michigan



Modern Marvel Home Bar

Designer Showcase: “Modern Marvel” Home Bar

This New York home features a full bar stocked with a 3-in-1 Marvel Beverage Center that can store food, beverages and wine in one elegant package.  If you like this, then you’ll really like our new Marvel collections that are now up to 40% more energy efficient with even more storage versatility than before.

Featured Designer: Creative Design Construction
Style: Traditional
Location: New York



Pro Athlete’s Man Cave


A Look Inside “Mummy Mountain”

Man Cave with Marvel Beer Dispenser is a Slam Dunk

This professional athlete’s spectacular 13,000 square foot home is situated on Mummy Mountain in Paradise Valley with much of the decor fashioned around his love of athletic games.

Builder Brett Brimley says the home’s best feature is its man cave, stocked with our Marvel Built In Beer Dispenser to pour a cold one.


“Every room is a wow. But the cave is like a personal sports bar, overlooking the basketball court, with a pool table, a bar, multiple TVs and a hidden, high-def golf simulator room. It’s truly one of the most spectacular homes I’ve ever been involved with. Guests can grab a cold one from the Marvel built-in beer dispenser.”

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