At the Schnull-Ranch House, a historic Indianapolis mansion, kitchen designer Chris Beehler and decorators Allen Misch and Reed Bobrick were tasked with turning a grimy office into a grand kitchen.

“We looked at the raw space and thought about function—how people would use it, where sinks and appliances made sense,” Beehler says, adding that building a kitchen from scratch means running new plumbing, gas and electrical connections. Hefty price tag aside, it’s tough to argue with such a gorgeous result. In addition to granite countertops and porcelain floor tiles, here’s the secret formula.

Radiator: Before & After

Beehler calls this geriatric, still-functioning radiator “something we had to live with.” She used a corner counter with vented doors (that make the heater accessible for cleaning or repairs) as clever camouflage.

Doorway: Before & After

The swinging doors had been locked and painted shut; the other side was drywall and a kitchenette with a microwave and a coffee maker. The team broke through the doorway and adjacent wall to open the kitchen to the new butler’s pantry—so much snazzier than a hot plate.

Wall Cabinets: Before & After

There are only 15 inches between window and recessed wall, which is quite shallow for a kitchen cabinet. However, Beehler was able to install new cabinetry that fits glasses and a wine rack; the beaded woodwork mimics the dining room’s original hand-carved details. But not everything here has a historic pedigree: The corner sink sports a faucet with Touch2O® technology.

Window: Before & After

The window presented a challenge because its ledge drops lower than a standard countertop. The solution? Beehler installed a skinny backsplash that protects the window ledge from spills without obscuring the view.

Ceiling: Before & After

High ceilings make the room feel more spacious, but sadly there were no original moldings or details remaining. The designers flaunted the room’s height by starting new molding and paint color about a foot below the ceiling. “And we didn’t need super-tall cabinets, which can be a pain to access,” Beehler says.