Image: Donna Griffith / Styling: Ann Marie Favot
A black and white palette, square-tiled backsplash, shaker-style cabinetry and iconic furnishings blend perfectly in this modern and traditional space.
Armed with a wishlist a mile long, Toronto homeowners Meghan Mann and Mike Shannon took the renovation plunge last year. With the help of designers Vanessa Kwan and Ingrid Oomen of Qummunicate, they transformed their dysfunctional, dowdy kitchen into a stylish dream and fit everything they wanted into its compact 198-square-foot space. The open-concept design now features a work station, an eat-in nook and a peninsula that overlooks the dining area. Its classic-chic look with a contemporary edge not only complements the young couple’s style but also suits the 1910 house’s traditional architecture and its up-and-coming west Toronto neighbourhood’s trendy vibe.
Opening up the 11-by-18-foot kitchen to the rest of the main floor and replacing the back wall with a glass-panelled door and sidelights were the first steps in creating a more airy and light-filled space. The kitchen has a timeless aesthetic, with Shaker-style cabinetry, classic architectural details and a neutral palette, while a few of-the-moment touches, such as the brass hardware and pendant lights, keep it hip. “It’s a brick house with traditional details like beams and mouldings at the front, and we wanted to carry that essence into the kitchen,” says designer Vanessa Kwan.
A banquette serves as part of the casual eat-in area for the couple and their children, Sadie, 6, and Spencer, 2. It features storage in the form of legal-sized filing cabinets, with flush brass pulls that don’t get in the way of dangling feet. Finding a table that fit the space proved challenging, so homeowner Mike Shannon built the base himself and had a piece of glass cut for the top. The Eames chairs are a classic pick, and the chandelier provides sparkle and blends in with all the brass.
The kitchen was designed with family-friendly functionality top of mind: The white quartzite countertops are aesthetically similar to marble but are more durable and require less maintenance; the six-inch-square ceramic tiled backsplash, with its grey grout, is easy to keep clean; and the cork floors are great for kids because they’re soft underfoot and don’t scratch easily. For homeowner Meghan Mann, who works in software sales from home, the desk area (with a lower counter and two pencil drawers) was a must.
The black faucets and window frame above the sink create contrast yet establish continuity with the black-painted door at the back of the room. The dark elements, offering the kitchen a slightly industrial edge, are also a nod to the neighbourhood’s commercial architecture. “The area has a lot of old factory buildings, some converted into lofts or artists’ spaces,” says Meghan. “And they have those steel windows, so we wanted to echo that look in the kitchen.”
Curvy iconic shapes and trendy accents make this kitchen down-right covetable.
Round wood and marble serving board, Indigo, $38.
Michael Thonet beech era stool in Black, Design Within Reach, $365.
Cotton Soiree toss cushion in Natural with feather-down insert, CB2, $63.
Jason Wu for brizo mixed metal solna faucet in Matte Black, Masco Canada, $611.
Brass and glass Luna pendant light with shade in Clear, 12", Schoolhouse Electric, $269 US.
Cowhide Koldby rug in Brown, IKEA, $299.
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Recipe: Caramelized onion and apple mashed potatoes
1 To caramelize the onions, remove the outer skins and slice into ⅛"-thick slices. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic and sliced onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have reduced in volume; add the sugar. Continue to cook gently for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the sauté pan and incorporate them back into the onions. Watch carefully to avoid burning – when the onions are a rich
golden caramel colour, remove from the heat and reserve.
2 Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and apples and cut into 2" chunks, discarding the apple cores. Place in a large pot with the salt and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat; simmer gently until the
potatoes and apples are fork-tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain the potatoes and apples in a colander; allow to steam dry for 1 to 2 minutes. Put through a ricer until smooth or return to the hot dry pot and mash with a potato masher.
3 Heat the milk, cream and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to steep for 5 minutes and then stir into the potatoes along with the butter and reserved onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve
Prep and cook time: 1 hour.
Serves 6 to 8.
Take a tour of this cabin-in-the-woods style home.
Image by: Carina Olander
An affinity for the outdoors inspired this Swedish couple to create a bright and snug home with a cabin-in-the-woods vibe.
Karin Nilsson and Kristoffer Green live in a cozy, light-filled 1,600-square-foot home on Sweden’s Gotland island with their baby and dog. The couple carefully chose this house near the village of Hemse as much for its proximity to the Baltic Sea as for its nearness to amenities like schools and recreational facilities. Since moving here, Karin and Kristoffer have created a warm and inviting space, complete with white-painted gypsum plaster walls, black window frames and whitewashed herringbone floors, and outfitted it with natural materials and family heirlooms. Here are the top takeaways from this rustic retreat by the sea.
Nestled beside the fireplace of this Scandi-rustic home is a built-in nook holding firewood. It lends warmth and texture to the white wall and is always stocked to help heat up cool nights spent relaxing on the sofa.
Bright and white with doses of black and organic touches, the entryway sets the decorative theme for the rest of the house. The homeowners cleverly repurposed found items into functional organizers, such as the wooden pallet that was transformed into a radiator cover and the drapery rod they converted into a coat rack using rope and hooks.
Homeowners Kristoffer Green and Karin Nilsson (pictured) make the most of their rural locale, whether they’re sourcing food from the nearby farmers’ market or heading to the beach for a long walk with their dog.
The kitchen’s clean-lined IKEA cabinetry is complemented by edgy industrial accents like the pendant lights and stools. A wooden tongue-and-groove backsplash adds a rustic element that’s in keeping with the rest of the home.
The dining room demonstrates Karin and Kristoffer’s knack for blending old and new, using natural materials and creating interest by contrasting black and white elements. Here, inherited pieces sit alongside secondhand finds and newly purchased accessories and artwork, while the black-painted window frame draws the eye to the exterior view.
The space’s white and black envelope is softened with natural materials, such as wood, stone, leather and hemp. In the dining room, a gnarled branch leaning against a wall looks like an effortless organic sculpture.