If you’re in the Chicagoland area, you’re probably familiar with Abt. The company has only one location, in Glenview, but it’s expansive and the family-owned business is known for its service and selection. Abt sells online, too, but if you’re in the area you should check it out in person. The 100,000 square foot showroom carries all of the tech and electronics you could hope for, and their selection of kitchen appliances is amazing. To make it even more amazing, in honor of its 80th anniversary, Abt recently expanded with an additional 10,000 square feet of pure kitchen inspiration called the Inspiration Studio.image01The Inspiration Studio is housed on the second floor and features a dozen kitchen vignettes, each designed around a suite of appliances from the luxury brands Abt carries. Many of the appliances are fully functional, so not only can you see them in person, you can test them out, too. The vignettes were designed by Mick De Julio and the art on display was created by the children at Have Dreams. Abt put together a time lapse video of the construction, which gives you an idea of the scope and scale of this massive project.

Whoa, right? I was there for the grand opening event recently, and it was fantastic to see the space filled with people exploring, interacting, and enjoying hands-on inspiration. I was also able to chat with a representative of  Sub-Zero and Wolf about their new kitchen there. Sub-Zero and Wolf are already well-represented on Abt’s main floor, but the Inspiration Studio is a chance to showcase the brand in an authentic kitchen setting. image02Bonus: you can hang out there and pretend that you’re in your brand new beautiful kitchen. Totally normal, like so!image03Oh man do I wish my kitchen had some of those features. When people think of Sub-Zero and Wolf, we automatically think of the big built-in stainless steel refrigerators and the ranges with red knobs. And you’ll find those there, as expected.image04They also showcased a less industrial, more modern look. Black knobs (gasp!), sleek design, and impressive technology and power.

I wanted to know why these appliances are so popular. When a homeowner is redoing his or her kitchen, they’re usually at the top of the wish list. So why choose a Sub-Zero fridge? It keeps your food cold, right? But so does every other fridge. It turns out that Sub-Zero is a pioneer not only in built-ins, but also in food preservation. Your food actually lasts longer in a Sub-Zero refrigerator! You can also customize the size to fit your needs because you choose the fridge and freezer components separately. And they look great…but we knew that already!image05That’s a lot of room for your sparkling water.image06OK, so what about Wolf? The design is there, from those famous red knobs to the sleek modern black knobs and touch screen interface featured in the newer models. The power and control is there too, with options like Dual Stack Burners giving you a flame with higher highs and lower lows, true simmer, and a melt feature.

I think the most exciting thing I saw was the Convection Steam Oven. And I wasn’t alone—everyone who learned about it wanted one ASAP. This would be an ideal second oven, and a great choice over a microwave. Microwaves are convenient but they heat food unevenly and often dry it out. Even if you use the trick of placing a wet paper towel over the food you’re warming, it often doesn’t turn out quite right.  The Convection Steam Oven is quick because of the convection feature, but the steam is the real magic here, keeping your food moist. Besides reheating food, you can use the oven with just the convection fan, just the steam, or a combination of both, making it great for defrosting, baking, roasting, and more. Check it out and you’re going to fall in love with it. Trust me.image07Abt is offering a rebate on Sub-Zero and Wolf packages right now, so this would be a good time to head over if you’re in the market for new appliances. Even if you’re not ready to buy yet and just want to visit some very pretty kitchens, the Inspiration Studio will not disappoint.