Apr 15, 2009
Apr 15, 2009
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Drab kitchen goes bold in black and white
A Toronto couple with a shared vision cooks up an ambitious renovation plan for their outdated kitchen and backyard.
They say a renovation can lead to a separation, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for this Toronto couple. “We agree on absolutely everything design-wise,” says Melissa Evans-Lee, marketing director of Bayview Village Shopping Centre, about her media CEO hubby, John Lee. “Sometimes I think we share a brain.” The pair’s united vision for the three-bedroom Victorian fixer-upper they purchased in the city’s west end in 2006 was clear – and ambitious.
Over the course of a decade, every room was redone, but it all began with the kitchen, a priority for these foodies and skilled home chefs. A total gut job liberated the 135-square-foot pass-through cooking space from its decrepit pale yellow-painted wooden cabinetry, dark green linoleum flooring and outdated basic appliances. The original window and radiator were left intact, lending old-world character to newly installed budget-friendly modern finishes in white. Oh, and the walls were painted black. When asked about the bold choice, Melissa laughs. “Is it? We didn’t get the memo,” adding that nearly every wall in the house was painted a dark colour, from charcoal to navy. Black also spills out to the backyard for an extra dose of drama.
Thanks to a generous helping of black paint and a good dose of stainless steel, Melissa Evans-Lee and John Lee’s Toronto kitchen oozes sophistication. Tidy open storage and the large original window mask its modest proportions.
“I’m a very visual person, so I like to have everything on display,” says Melissa with regard to the plenitude of open storage. But she does admit that keeping everything orderly requires a certain personality type (“Can you say OCD?” she says with a laugh). Everyday dishes and oft-used ingredients are kept in sight on floating shelves and in the island’s open base, while overflow is hidden away in a small pantry. Black and white accessories throughout look fancy and offer function.
“I think saying dark walls make a room feel dim or small is a complete fallacy,” says Melissa. “Black adds something really amazing to the mix: drama.” Case in point is this group of picture ledges she uses to display her best-loved cookbooks, which rivals some of the most affecting art walls.
Potted herbs enliven the kitchen’s dramatic black and white scheme and also add a nature-inspired feel that helps create a connection between the indoors and out.
Whether dining on buffet-style tacos or a four-course meal, guests enjoy interior-calibre comfort on vintage Bertoia chairs and the newly built-in banquette, which Melissa cleverly cushioned using dog beds and indoor toss cushions. “Everything is movable,” she says. “These chairs can easily go in the dining room, the toss cushions in the den.”
Choice furnishings and accessories (in a chic black and white scheme that matches the interior) create an integrated outdoor dining space – “it’s oven to patio table in about five steps,” says Melissa – that plays host to dinners à deux and mingling guests alike.
Tucked into a corner of the backyard, this stone patio outfitted with vintage metal seating and a hand-me-down coffee table is a serene spot for lazing around with a book under the pleasant shade of two mature trees. Low-maintenance potted ferns add fluffy texture.
Pinnacle Survival Kit Contest
Entrants must respect the following limits, otherwise the contest organizers reserve the right to cancel one or several of their entries:
One (1) grand prize will be given:
(Includes two (2) Toronto Popcorn packages, 750mL of Pinnacle Vodka, NADEGE Marshmellows, two (2) drinking glasses and a survival cocktail guide!)
Value of: $150.00 CAD
The following conditions apply:
After the declaration and exemption form is correctly filled out and signed, the contest organizers will contact the winner to determine how the Prize will be remitted (by mail or on hand delivery)
Two-minute decorating tricks
2 Subtract, don't add
Edit your accessories so that each individual piece comes into sharper focus. Remember, the space around decor items is as important as the items themselves.
3 Style your bookshelves
Rearrange your bookshelves so that they create blocks by size or colour of the spines. Place some horizontally as well as vertically to create visual interest. Try varying the blocks with open spaces, adding a few eye-catching accessories such as a conch shell or a framed photograph. If you don't have much time, just tackle one shelf at a time.
4 Add natural colour
Fill a large glass vase or bowl to the brim with colourful fruit such as oranges or lemons, and place on a side table or near the window.
5 Change artwork up
Switch around your artwork. It's astonishing how much moving a painting you've looked at for years into another room makes you appreciate it all over again.
6 Switch up area rugs and pillows
While you're at it, change your area rugs, accessories and throw pillows around as well. (Moving an area rug has the added advantage of inspiring you to vacuum the floor underneath it, if you haven't done that for a while.)
7 Dress up the bathroom
Place a wicker tray on the bathroom counter, line it with a hand towel, and use it to organize and display attractively packaged toiletries and soaps.
8 Flowers, flowers, flowers
Buy an inexpensive bouquet of spring blooms at the corner store, cut down the stems and place in a Mason jar, small vase or pretty glass for your bedside table.
9 Consider new uses for things
If you have a pair of matching scarves use them to replace the tiebacks on curtains.
10 Create collections
Many everyday items become art when you look at them in a fresh way. Pinecones gathered on a walk in the park are beautiful in a wooden bowl or wicker tray. White china makes a statement if arranged with care on open kitchen shelves. And you'll enjoy your collection of family photographs every day if you group them on the high wall next to your stairs. Try arranging them first on the floor till you get a pleasing composition.
Black and white contrast create a classy and cosmopolitan look
Fresh, modern and fun, a revamped heritage home is the perfect place for one Montreal family.
Like the rest of the living room, the fireplace is striking in its lack of embellishment. “I wanted the whole space to be sleek,” says designer Sylvie Masse.
Sleek and modern as it may look, the kitchen is hard-working. Ample surface space makes prepping and cooking a cinch, and corralling clutter is easy thanks to the extra storage from the overhead and under-counter cabinetry. A TV integrated into the glass backsplash offers entertainment for cooks or those eating at the island. Visual interest is added through simple details like the pottery that appears to float on the ethereal glass shelving in front of the window in lieu of a blind.
A catch-all for cookbooks and culinary miscellany, the built-in oak unit along the kitchen’s back wall offers lots of extra storage and adds warm texture to the otherwise stark and minimalistic room.
High contrast black and white looks classy and cosmopolitan in the living room. Sylvie eschewed drapery for a barely-there roller shade to let the industrial-style window shine.
“With its bold black runner, the original white-painted staircase looks very old New York City,” says Sylvie.
Modern classics reign in the master bedroom, from the Eames rocker to the plush low-profile bed frame.
The clean-lined everything-in-its-place aesthetic took careful planning. By setting the wardrobe system within the wall and adding a lacquered MDF strip along the bottom, the contractor made the individual units appear built-in for a more refined look.