#HavenOnTheHarbor Reveal

Imagine waking up every morning to a panorama of Navy Pier. Drinking in the bright blue water of the Chicago Harbor along with your café au lait. Well, #HavenOnTheHarbor gets to do just that! 


The condo originally had a tiny kitchen in the interior, missing out on the glorious views of the lake. The original goal with the renovation was to achieve a kitchen that functioned well and allowed people in the kitchen to be included with the living room. It did not include a view, a bedroom was occupying the space with the windows. However, once we opened up the walls, the homeowner loved how you could see the lake from every angle. So ultimately we decided to eliminate the bedroom and move the kitchen there instead. 


This required a complete redesign the week of demolition as well as a new permit. A stressful time for sure, but such a great end result!


Two really special features in the kitchen are the range, which is the brand new induction range from Wolf, and the hood, custom made by a local fabricator. 


The countertop is a very cool material from Levantina called cygnus leather that has an amazing texture.


Click here to see the full journey of #HavenOnTheHarbor.

Photography by Aimee Mazzenga.

What is Design / Build?

We've been actively working in the interior design world for over ten years now. When we formed Ember & Brune there was no question that it would be a full-service design/build business. We had witnessed the pitfalls of both the the design/build and design only method. Too many people involved in one project that are not collectively working together leaves room for more mistakes, miscommunication and in the end, a disconnected relationship between the company and valuable clients. Our approach is more streamlined. We design, manage and oversee the entire process. 

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Let's break it down!


  • It is a single contract between the client and the design/build firm.
  • We retain control over the end product, which ensures ours and our client's vision becomes reality.
  • We have established relationships with quality focused industry partners. Knowing the contractor is a like-minded professional ensures client satisfaction.
  • There is no pointing fingers, no question on who is responsible because we are the main point of contact. 
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We believe both components, the design and build, are equally important for a successful project. We are the main contact throughout the entire process, and establishing this solid relationship with our client one of our favorite parts of the job.

Without you, there would be no us, and we honor that every day.

#KneadaNewKitchen Reveal

It's light and bright, with character to spare! The design of this kitchen was extremely deliberate, with a creative use of space for all of our clients' appliances and accessories. You can see the original space here


The waterfall countertop is a feature we've wanted to incorporate in a kitchen design for a while. This was the perfect place! It adds so much dimension to the space, but also a simple sophistication. Not to mention a great deal of counter space for cooking or entertaining.


The coffee station is cleverly hidden and easily accessible. A great way to declutter the countertops.

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And the banquette is so inviting, can't you just picture yourself relaxing in the morning sun with a cup of coffee?


But let's talk about the glass backsplash... It's incredibly sleek and understated, but still pops out at you in the best kind of way. The hood and floating shelves just all seem to work in harmony, we love how it all turned out.

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The storage solutions here are endless! We incorporated oversized drawers for bread storage and a secret charging station, as well as an appliance lift for the heavy duty mixer (not pictured).


Tell us what you think of this kitchen design on Facebook by tagging @emberbrune and #KneadaNewKitchen!

Five Favorites

From the latest trends to timeless pieces that never go out of style, we are constantly scouting out products and inspiration for our clients. But at the end of the day, we have our own personal favorites we come home to. We created 'Five Favorites' as fun way to share a little of our individual style from time to time. First up, Brandie! Coming at us with her take on fall.

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I’m not big on pumpkin spice (I know, something is wrong with me), but I do love fall! Here are 5 of my favorite home items to pull out as the weather cools off and the leaves start to change:

(Clockwise from left)                                                 

TEXTURED PILLOWS. In the summer, the thought of a cable knit sweater anywhere near me, including on a pillow makes me itch. So I pull them out in the fall and keep them around all winter long. Sweater weather = textured pillows in my opinion.

NEUTRAL TABLESCAPES. I take out the blues and greens of summer and add in some browns, greys and ivory. Who am I to compete with the colorful leaves on the trees?! I keep it neutral.

HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS. I am not one to decorate for every holiday, but my family loves Halloween and we love adding some spooky decor to the house. We lean more ‘Hollywood Tower of Terror’ style than 'pumpkin patch’. A few years ago my husband made this print to replace our usual artwork over the fireplace. We pop it in the frame every October!

COZY THROWS. Not only are they convenient to have at arm's length, they look great! This throw adds texture to my leather daybed and is oh-so-cozy. 

FALL SCENTED CANDLES. I found this one recently at a vintage market in Dundee. It has the most wonderful fall scent! 

Meet #TheRambler

#TheRambler came to us with a separation problem. The owners wanted to update and enlarge their master bath, which in its current state consisted of a dressing area, hallway closet, two bathrooms and a whole lot of wallpaper.

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The plan is to merge and connect these spaces to create a large master bath with tub and shower, as well as a spacious hallway with closet space.

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We'll be tagging #TheRambler on all updates, be sure to follow along!

#TimberView Reveal

Talk about a transformation! #TimberView is complete and just radiates sleek sophistication. Click here to see how it all began. 


When the client requested seating for 10-12 at the kitchen island, we simply couldn't resist the design challenge. We know there will be many memories made around that countertop.

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The hood was our custom design, fabricated by a local welder. 


This last view almost didn't happen. There was going to be a wall between the kitchen and dining room as you can see here in our initial renderings. However, after demo it was easy to see that the wall should come out completely. 


Meet #TrestleWilliams

#TrestleWilliams is receiving a remodeling trifecta- kitchen, mudroom and basement! One of the biggest issues in the kitchen was that the door from the garage opened directly into the room. We were able to solve this problem by moving the laundry room to the second level of the home. This made room in the previous laundry space for the re-located garage door and a true mudroom. 


Progress is well underway! We are excited to show you the plans with a good amount of progression to put things in perspective.

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Here is an update on the basement as well. So much improvement already!

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Follow #TrestleWilliams on social media so you don't miss a beat, this one is moving fast!

#OutdoorRestore Reveal

#OutdoorRestore is complete! It has quite the bird's eye view, don't you think? Well, the original home had more than that...

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The home was plagued with woodpeckers. More than a mere nuisance, these birds were destroying the wood exterior, a problem that had existed since the house was built some 30 years ago. 


Not anymore! With our re-design, #OutdoorRestore is now equipped with woodpecker proof, low maintenance fiber cement siding and a new contemporary style in keeping with the original architecture.


Goodbye Mr. Woodpecker!


Meet #ClearView

Meet #ClearView! This home has space, all it really needed was a bit of clever re-organization. Currently, there is a small kitchen, closed off formal dining room and somewhat awkward family room addition. Here are the before pics...


The plan is to open all these spaces to improve the flow and layout, providing a #ClearView for our clients! The kitchen will gain some much-needed square feet and some amazing new appliances.

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Demo is underway! Follow the hashtag #ClearView for updates on this project along the way.


The Perfect Paint Colors

We've all been there. Finding the perfect neutral paint color turns out to be so much more difficult than you thought. This one is a little too yellow, this one too blue, why are there so many whites!? Luckily for you, we have some tried and true favorites. Neutral paint colors that look amazing time and again. And we are going to share them with you!


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"Suggesting the striking sandstone façade and sculptural detail of historic Manchester Town Hall, this neutral on the khaki side is classic and elegant." is how Benjamin Moore describes it. Manchester Tan is a neutral with noticeability, but not overwhelmingly so. We used it here in an open entryway and love how the afternoon light shows all the nuances.


Sophisticated and soft, this is a grey that never feels cold. You can never go wrong with Revere Pewter, a "classic shade that creates a unifying look that calms and restores." It really seems to add elegance in a way that's extremely liveable to this living room we designed.



Slightly more subtle and a touch warmer than Revere Pewter, Gray Owl is amazingly versatile. It works with virtually any color scheme, opening up the room to make it look bigger. We love it so much that we've even used it in our own homes! These sweetly styled corners are from Carrie's nursery.



"Unerring style defines this classic, softly shaded white." Yes. Yes to all of that. This shade helps you go white without blinding the neighborhood. We used it on the cabinets in this kitchen for a super fresh and inviting update.

#GreekIsland Reveal

Another amazing project to cross off the list! With a marble island countertop straight from Greece and a banquette cushion repurposed from curtains, this kitchen remodel has its share of interesting details and custom features. Scroll down for the full reveal!

When searching for a marble top, we struggled to find one without too much grey. Then we discovered ‘Volakas’ marble straight from Northern Greece. This marble was a true white with subtle veins of grey, hints of green and warm golds.

Our client wanted to open up the space by removing a walk in pantry. We added in pantry cabinets flanking the refrigerator to make up for that lost storage space. Unlike fixed shelves where canned goods can easily get lost and expire, these pullouts offer full access to all pantry items.

2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Competition

We are excited to announce our win at the second annual design competition organized by Kitchen & Bath Design News magazine! There was some fierce competition but after careful consideration, the panel of judges bestowed our very own Carrie Gallo with third place in the Best Specialty Project category for her project Command Center.


Winners were evaluated based on aesthetic appeal, the functionality of the space, attention to detail, design challenges, originality and more. Command Center was a project that combined great design with functionality. Carrie’s clever use of specialized storage and custom design elements turned a cluttered catch-all space into a remarkably usable office and laundry room. According to Carrie, "Designing rooms with purpose is a lot of fun. It allows us to help our clients reorganize how they live within a space and make it work best for their lifestyle." 

Click here to see the full reveal of Command Center, and be sure to look out for our feature in the August issue of Kitchen & Bath Design News as well as KitchenBathDesign.com

Meet Helen!

Helen is our new Project Manager and we are so excited to welcome her to the E&B team. She's organized, efficient and extremely funny- she fits in perfectly! We did a little Q&A so you can get to know Helen a little better. 

Q. What will you be doing as Project Manager for Ember & Brune?

A. Hopefully relieving some stress from Brandie and Carrie. I will primarily be coordinating job site activities like requesting bids, processing permits, scheduling, providing project updates and answering client's questions.


Q. Who is your favorite architect?

A. I’ve been thinking hard about this one. I don’t really have a favorite. I guess Sir Christopher Wren but that is only because I was raised in England until the age of 15, my “favorites” always seem to be UK based. He did have a great influence on the re-build of London in the late 1600’s due to the London fire which destroyed ¾ of the city. His most famous structure was St. Paul’s Cathedral in London which is magnificent.


Q. What do you do for fun?

A. I am a huge scrapbooker, I love to create Shutterfly books. This allows me to remember everything.

I love to travel and read or watch anything related to travel. I will go anywhere, anytime. I also like to plan trips for other people. I get just as much enjoyment investigating places to stay and things to do for friends and family as I do when I am planning for myself. I mostly help out when people are looking at going to Great Britain.

I am murder mystery fan, especially UK based i.e. Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, etc. I love to sit and either read or watch a good mystery.

Another passion is afternoon tea 😊        

Smith Barrow Reveal

The transformation of this historic home is now complete! There is so much character in these walls it's almost difficult to remember where it began. (although you can read about it here) An 8' addition off the back and some interior reconfiguration gave this couple the open floor plan and extra space they needed. Scroll down to see the full tour!

Meet #kneadanewkitchen

The name really says it all! Our newest kitchen renovation is for a couple with a love for bread baking. We are so excited to give them a space that will serve them better. Here is how it looks now... 


Most of us can relate to clutter on our countertops and lack of prep space. Our new kitchen layout at #kneadanewkitchen has a spot for everything with storage space to spare. Other than removing the pantry, we stayed within the original kitchen boundaries. You do not need to do a major remodel to enjoy a more functional kitchen. 

We can’t wait to show you the finished product, and all that open countertop space! Be sure to follow the progress of this project using the hashtag #kneadanewkitchen.

Command Center Reveal

#CommandCenter is officially complete and it looks amazing! It has all the style and functionality you would want in an office and laundry room, working in perfect harmony within one space.


The laundry portion of the room offers order and organization while maintaining a very clean look. 


The cabinets are equipped with pull out shelving for easy access to all necessities.

A free standing table and stools are perfect for an art project or folding laundry.

Adding a corner desk creates a ton of surface space without sacrificing much square footage of the room. 

Those countertops really make the room special. They are salvaged pine from a 130-year old home, repeatedly stained and lacquered. This finishing process reinforces the quality and durability without detracting from the rich, organic look.

Click here to see the before photos from #CommandCenter, and how our plans became reality!

A Versatile Laundry Room

Meet #CommandCenter! It's every homeowners dream, a true multi-functional space. Here is a look at the original room. 

The goal was to add order, function and design to a space that had turned into a catch-all of projects current and unfinished. 

Our plan was to integrate the laundry room and office with plenty of organized storage and a ton of style.

The new space will feature a corner desk space, dedicated wrapping paper holder, cubbies for laundry baskets for each family member, storage for board games, files, personal in-box cubbies for kids homework and communications, broom/vacuum cleaner storage, and craft storage. 

This beautiful countertop is salvaged pine from a 130-year old home.

Stay tuned for more updates on #CommandCenter, we might even need some opinions on a crucial design decision... 

2017 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show

We just returned from KBIS 2017- the world’s largest international trade fair dedicated to the kitchen and bath industry. 


We spent 3 days reviewing products and designs inspired by the past, present and future. Here are just some of our favorite discoveries.

1. The End of an Era? White on white was noticeably missing from the show. Instead, the cabinetry stood out in rich and colorful tones. It's refreshing to see the industry moving to a bolder trend!

2. Tour of Tech. We then moved on to a date with Nate Berkus... Well, pretty close. We attended his seminar on LG's new digital rendering software.

The future of 3D rendering- virtual reality! Imagine being able to "walk" through your renovation plans. Pretty incredible.

3. New Nostalgia. On the flip side, these vintage appliances were a blast from the past. The pink toaster was so cute!

4. Tonal Texture. The subtle blend of smooth and textured, matte and gloss was a universal trend. It's understated but impactful and we love it!

5. The Overachievers. With parts and pieces that are easily movable/ removable, this galley sink makes multitasking easy.

This pantry cabinet does double duty transforming into an amazing workspace/ serving center by simply sliding it's bi-fold doors.

6. Live in Luxury. This 100% walnut hood is a rich component that adds some extravagence, while still working in harmony with the rest of the space.

This bath featured a marble and brushed gold floor- beautiful and lavish.

7. Work Hard, Play Hard. We did have a little time for fun in the #kohlergravity display!

We left tired but invigorated! And ready to put these innovative new ideas to work for our clients. 

Smith Barrow Progress

Well, it's been a while since you've seen Smith Barrow, and oh how it's changed! New wood floors on the first floor, coffered ceilings, tile in the master bath, and walls! So many clean, white walls.

We are so close to completion, each day brings more progress, more finishing touches. As always, make sure to follow the hashtag #SmithBarrow on Facebook and Instagram to see up to the minute updates on the renovation.

Timber View Progress

Ch-ch-ch-changes... The Timber View kitchen remodel is coming along, but if there's one thing we've learned on the job, it's to remain flexible. The plan was to keep part of the wall between the kitchen and dining room. But after demo it became clear how much more functional the space would be with the wall down completely.

Here's a little sneak peek of the rest of the progress.

We can't wait to see those countertops, can you? Keep up to date on this project by following #TimberView on Facebook and Instagram.