Image: Donna Griffith / Styling: Morgan Lindsay
Thanks to a designer’s masterful eye, this modest modern kitchen serves as a lesson in making the most of the space you have.
If not precisely planned, a tiny kitchen can lead to chaos of all sorts: appliances dominating countertops, overstuffed cabinets that barely shut, even cookware stashed in the oven. The trouble with this Toronto couple’s 235-square-foot cooking quarters came down to its awkward U-shaped layout, which divided the kitchen into two distinct zones: a prep area and an eating nook.
To maximize the kitchen’s storage capacity, Veronica traded in awkwardly positioned uppers for glossy white and oak-look cabinetry that extends to the ceiling. “The original cupboards left all this untouched space above them, so it was important to reclaim that and take advantage of the 10-foot-high ceiling,” she says. The homeowners now use the extra storage to stow away off-season items and other specialty kitchenware.
The pre-reno space featured a pantry that protruded into the nearby hallway. “It resembled a front hall closet and felt very removed from the kitchen,” says Veronica. So the designer got creative. To better incorporate a new pantry into the room, she had custom floor-to-ceiling cabinetry installed in the same spot and then had matching fake doors added to the bump-out wall directly beside it. The clever addition looks like a large unit that was always part of the kitchen.
Though 24-inch-deep cabinets constitute the majority of this kitchen’s storage, Veronica chose to recess the doors above one countertop to add depth and function, ensuring the prep surface is accessible. Incorporating whitewashed-wood-look doors also lends warmth to the predominately white space. “All-white kitchens can come off as cold,” she says. “Introducing wooden elements is one of the best and easiest ways to increase interest.”
Instead of limiting counter space to the kitchen’s cooking zone, the designer had sleek quartz countertops installed along an entire wall, extending into the eat-in area. “This design choice reinforces the idea that it’s one integrated space,” she says. The shallow countertop underneath the TV also acts as a sideboard thanks to the built-in cupboards below, where the homeowners store everything from formal dishware to electronics.
The kitchen’s eating nook is one of the most well-loved spots in the home. It’s where the couple sips coffee every morning and retreats after a long day. Keeping this in mind, the designer didn’t want to be constrained by choosing only compact furniture. She instead used large cushioned dining chairs that “encourage the homeowners to stay longer,” she says. The round aged-elm dining table balances the look and is easy to navigate around.
The original U-shaped kitchen layout impeded traffic flow and separated the cooking hub from the eat-in area. The new linear layout boasts a modern free-standing island equipped with an undermount sink, which allows the couple to move around and entertain guests with ease while cooking.
While outfitting the small space, Veronica was careful to create cohesion. The existing maple flooring was swapped out for the same stained oak that’s carried throughout the rest of the main floor. The new accent cabinetry mimics the look of the dining table. Even the cabinetry hardware mirrors the chandelier’s black framework. These repeated decorative details ultimately tie the room together.
"I wanted there to be huge visual impact when you entered the kitchen, but I also didn't want to compromise the view to the backyard garden," says the designer of her decision to add the stick-like chandelier to the eat-in area. "It was important for the light fixture to bring something unexpected to the space," she adds. "A drum shade, for instance, would have fallen flat. It would've been too predictable."
Image by: Chris Court, William Meppem / Styling by: Justine Poole
Get an extra boost of energy in the morning or on-the-go with this granola, which calls for a 1/2 cup of espresso.
Espresso aside, this granola is made with other energy-boosting ingredients including sunflower seeds and almonds, making it a great way to start your day. Add a scoop of it to yogurt or just eat it by the handful.
1 Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the espresso and water in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the oats and raisins, mix to combine and allow to stand for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Add the maple syrup, sunflower seeds and almonds and stir to combine.
2 Spread the mixture onto two parchment paperlined baking sheets and bake, tossing occasionally, for 45 minutes or until the oats are crisp. Allow the mixture to cool on the baking sheets before serving.
3 Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. To serve, divide among four bowls and top with the milk, figs and maple syrup.
Prep & cook time: 1 hour
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Excerpted from Life in Balance by Donna Hay. Recipes Copyright © 2016 Donna Hay, Photography copyright © 2016 Chris Court & William Meppem. Excerpted by permission of Harper Collins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Image by: Monic Richard
Below, answers to the eight biggest dining room design dilemmas.
Photography by Donna Griffith
Having an odd number of dining chairs is the perfect opportunity to have fun in the dining room. Mix things up with a boldly patterned or vibrantly coloured chair at the head of the table.
Photography by Janis Nicolay
If you’re scared that reupholstering the chairs will only lead to them getting stained again, look for chairs made of fiberglass, acrylic or plastic – easy to clean and much more durable.
Photography by Monic Richard
A few architectural touches will give your dining room the formal design you crave. Add some wainscoting or a chair rail to the walls and give the ceiling that finished look with crown molding. If you want to make the room even more grand, heighten the wainscoting to make the ceilings appear taller.
Photography by Donna Griffith
Condos can be short on kitchen storage, so take to the dining area and purchase a buffet to house all of your favourite entertaining accessories.
Photography by Michael Nangreaves
Instead of replacing the lighting altogether, give that shade a little boost by recovering it in leftover wallpaper or patterned fabric.
Or try this glam gold DIY here.
Photography by Andrew Grinton
If overhead lighting is too harsh to create that intimate restaurant experience in your dining room, install a dimmer switch. It’s an easy and affordable solution that allows you to be flexible with your light settings.
Photography by Virginia Macdonald
Go restaurant style and create a booth with two settees and a long table in the middle. Not only is it intimate, but you can also make it formal with tufted seating and a chandelier overhead.
Photography by Virginia Macdonald
If your everyday family dining differs from your weekend dinner parties, look for a versatile dining table that will cater to both. Opt for a round or square table with leaf inserts that will extend when you have guests over for dinner.
A glam bachelorette pad with a beach-inspired design
A 500-square-foot condo in the city is transformed into a stylish, tropical oasis.
Growing up, decorator and stylist Laura Collins would often rearrange the furniture in younger sister Jennifer’s bedroom. “My room was always a mess,” says Jennifer. “Almost weekly, Laura would come in, switch the furniture around, organize and make it look pretty again.” So when it came time to furnish her first bachelorette pad in Toronto, Jennifer didn’t hesitate to ask for help from her big sis, who started with a mood board that evoked a sun-drenched Florida beach house. It was a style Jennifer sought not only because it reminds her of frequent family vacations down south, but also because she admires her sister’s beachy-glam Toronto townhouse (featured in Style at Home’s June 2014 issue), which boasts a similar eclectic coastal aesthetic.
Immediately, Laura identified aqua, brass and flamingo pink as key colours for the 500-square-foot space’s fresh, fun look. “My sister is my favourite client ever,” says Laura. “She trusts me – she knows this is my area of expertise.” Indeed, Jennifer purchased almost everything on the mood board within a week of moving in.
Though the space is small, Laura picked out standard furniture instead of condo-sized options. “Larger pieces make it feel more grand and livable,” she says. But of all the furniture in the space, the brass bar cart, set in front of the balcony doors and decorated with tropical details, is Jennifer’s favourite. “It reminds me of being somewhere hot,” she says. “I wake up, sit on the comfy sofa with my cup of coffee and see the sun shining in. It makes me feel like I’m in a beach house. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
Brass, aqua, turquoise, a hint of kelly green and a spattering of flamingo pink against the neutral white backdrop lend a refined vintage tropical vibe to the main living area of homeowner Jennifer Collins’s Toronto condo.
Framed prints of exotic beaches, a robin’s egg blue task lamp and a carefully edited selection of tropical-feel objets add freshness to the desk.
The kitchen is compact but features all the essentials, including a microwave tucked under the counter, a slender fridge and a peninsula offering enough seating to eliminate the need for a formal dining area.
A vintage brass tray topped with pink tumblers in the kitchen links to the brass bar cart with flamingo-themed items in the living area on the opposite side of the space.
Decorator Laura Collins (right) sits with her sister under a vintage Turner flamingo print.
1 Calypso tray, Rosanna, $32. 2 Amir toss cushion cover in Azure, Tonic Living, $45. 3 Industrial task lamp in White, West Elm, $119. 4 Kivik loveseat with Dansbo fabric in White, IKEA, $529. 5 Lucette bar cart in Gold, Pier 1 Imports, $430.