Out-of-date kitchen gets a whole new makeover.
Style at Home contributing design editor Christine Hanlon partners with IKEA to turn up the heat on her vacation home’s dated kitchen.
Christine originally envisioned rustic open shelving in the kitchen of her century-old vacation home, but the wonky walls (an unfortunate feature of many a building of that age) were easier to disguise with closed upper IKEA cabinetry, which Christine stacked to take advantage of the space’s high ceiling. Open shelves tucked behind chic bold-patterned cafe? curtains below the counter, however, make it easy for her kids to help set the table and empty the dishwasher.
In order to achieve a cohesive look along the back wall, Christine had to sacrifice an original antique window sill to make room for a continuous countertop. But the effect of the seamless surface was worth it. “The view of the kitchen straight on from the dining room is one of my favourite things about the space,” she says. “I’m just so drawn to symmetry.”
Topped off with designer details like brass-hued hardware, a mix of patterns, smooth organic lines and vintage treasures, the new kitchen exudes Christine’s signature bespoke beauty with a dash of Nordic country flair.
A beautiful floral arrangement make for the perfect kitchen countertop accessory.
Christine strayed from her original vision, which featured dark cabinetry, and instead opted to apply a bold, almost-black hue on the walls. “I agonized over the decision,” she admits. “And I didn’t decide until the very last minute. I thought, I have to try it or I’ll never know.” So late one night, Christine slapped some dark paint on one wall, “to end the agony of whether or not it would work,” she says. “And the more paint I applied, the more I liked it.” The entire space, including the adjoining dining room, is now enveloped in the smoky shade to striking effect.
Christine had the sink smartly positioned in the centre of the island, so when she’s performing hosting duties, she can still chat with guests sitting at the dining table just beyond. And that’s not the island’s only benefit. Hidden within it are a fully integrated dishwasher, as well as a pullout waste-sorting system to make tidying up easy.
Since this created a kind of kitchen within a kitchen, the creative designer took advantage of the unique opportunity to use a complementary marble backsplash. The main area features a Moroccan-look flower in subtle silvery grey hues (“I fell in love with the pattern as soon as I saw it,” says Christine), while the nook boasts a brick-patterned backsplash in slightly deeper shades. “They’re the perfect coordinates.”
Tucked away from sightlines is a cozy chef’s corner with a sleek white cooktop, self-cleaning oven and plenty of counter and cabinet space – not to mention drawers perfectly sorted with IKEA’s Variera organizers. “I wanted this area to be its own private zone so when we host, none of the cooking mess would be visible to guests,” explains Christine.
It’s hard to believe that the dingy old kitchen from the ’70s could be transformed into the stunner it is today. As lovely and functional as the layout itself is, it’s the designer details – perfect pattern pairings, bold colour choices and doses of flourish – that make the beautifully bespoke space so successful.
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Take a tour of Canadian writer Kelly Oxford's L.A. home.
Celebrated designer Orlando Soria creates a carefree and quirky Palm Springs-style oasis in the canyons for a famous Canadian writer living in L.A.
Few friendships are built solely on decor, but for Orlando Soria and Kelly Oxford, it was certainly the foundation. Having met when he redesigned her Los Angeles office, they seem like a match made in heaven: Orlando, creative director of the design firm Homepolish, is one of the decor world’s funniest Instagrammers, and Kelly became famous for her hilarious and unapologetically sarcastic tweets. Needless to say, the office transformation was marked by not only shared tastes, but also cheeky texts and rapid-fire repartee. So when the Edmonton-born, L.A.-based writer of the bestselling memoir Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar – who’s also authored television pilots and movie scripts and appeared in film and on TV with the likes of James Franco and Nicole Richie – moved into a new home with her husband and their three kids, Orlando was the obvious choice to head up its design. “We had such a good time doing Kelly’s office, it was only natural that I do her house as well,” he says. And Kelly’s an easy client. “Half of our texts were about furniture; half were attempts to make each other laugh,” says Orlando, who would send Kelly photos of crazy finds to which she never once replied “Why the heck are you showing me that!?” At times, Kelly even joined Orlando on his flea market furniture hunts. “She’s way better at bargaining than me,” he admits.
Only the main living area needed Orlando’s deft touch, but it presented a challenge for the designer: How would he make the grand all-white room, which gets lots of light from a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, feel elegant and cozy? Dividing the space into three “rooms” (a dining area, living area and family area) unified by a cohesive colour palette and matching rugs was a clever start. Establishing a cool mid-century Palm Springs vibe – which embraces bright light, bright white and bright accent colours – perfected the look, as did the eclectic elements synonymous with Kelly’s style.
“Kelly loves clean lines and contemporary accessories, but there’s a special place in her heart for vintage kitsch – items that have a bit of humour to them,” says the designer. To that point, there are plenty of cheeky moments throughout the house. Those plastic horses trotting along the bar shelves? “We saw them at a flea market and thought they looked stupid but cool at the same time,” he says. That dining room gallery wall? Kelly and Orlando painted bikinis on the nudes to poke fun at ultra modesty. And the French poster for Hitchcock’s The Birds in the kitchen’s eat-in area? A wink at Kelly’s Canadian heritage. “I guess you guys like things that are French because, um, you know more French than we do?” jokes Orlando. Leave it to a friend to understand the nuances of one’s stylish eclecticism – and the quirky chicness of Kelly. As she says in her memoir, “I like the idea that we can contain our weirdess, but I prefer it when we wear it all over ourselves.” Clearly that holds true for her home, too.
Out of a cavernous room with white walls and a white-tiled floor, designer Orlando Soria created three intimate and cozy spaces – a family area, living area and dining area – and unified them using low mid-century modern-style furnishings, the exact same sisal rug and complementary teal, beige and ivory accent colours.
“Sometimes she has this classic old-school thing going on – like when she wears those retro-look glasses,” says Orlando of homeowner Kelly Oxford (both pictured). “But then she also has this really edgy, funny attitude that’s made her famous.”
Long and narrow, the kitchen’s eat-in area demanded an oval-shaped dining table rather than a round one. Orlando also made the bench himself – with the help of Kelly’s young son, Henry – by drilling industrial hairpin legs into a slab of stained wood and tossing a sheepskin on top. “Every other bench we saw was either too deep or too expensive,” says Orlando.
When Kelly and Orlando saw an orange pouffe at a flea market, they thought the $150 US price tag was steep, considering they’d have to have it re-covered, so they passed on the purchase. “But when we walked by the pouffe later in the day, some girls were admiring it, and we said to each other, ‘If they buy it, we’re going to die!’ It’s funny how you realize you want something as soon as someone else wants it, too,” says Orlando with a laugh. The now-teal pouffe is perfect for the living area. “And we still talk about the time some girls tried to steal it from us.”
A massive sectional was a must for the casual family area, where Kelly, her husband and their three kids, pair of cats and two dogs spend tons of time. This bold blue one (which is 10 feet long on both sides) fit the bill for the family to curl up by the fire or watch TV.
“I like to use a variety of materials in any given space,” says Orlando of his approach to decorating. In the dining area, woven chairs (“there’s something very ‘resort’ about them”) are paired with a wooden table, sheer drapery and a view of the backyard pool. “There are a lot of different elements to enjoy.”
“Built-in bars are so mid-century modern,” says Orlando. this one, which is original to the house, is located across from the dining area. “Back in the 1950s and ’60s, people thought having a bar was super glam, which is cute and kind of hilarious.” But there’s no denying that this drinks station is perfect for parties. Its dark surface lends some contrast to the space, while the architectural stools add a dose of fresh, edgy flavour.
Classic touches with natural accents
Classic touches and natural accents take a builder-basic house from plain to pleasing.
The walnut-stained wire-brushed oak floors and new mouldings give the entryway timeless character, while the black faux-bamboo dresser offers handy storage.
Keeping the original cabinetry, designer Karla Amadatsu and her husband, Jeff, transformed the kitchen by filling the gap between the uppers and the ceiling and painting everything white. Details like the ceramic-tiled backsplash with light grey grout, decorative toe kicks and polished-nickel hardware dress up the space and create a fresh, traditional look.
To enhance the elegant aesthetic while keeping it inviting and fresh, Karla incorporated both classic and clean-lined pieces, natural fabrics, textural elements, a combination of metals and a neutral palette with hits of black.
The living room, with its neutral palette and warm mix of textures, gets a formal vibe from the chic scalloped-linen pendant light, marble-topped gold-leaf iron coffee table and herringbone marble fireplace surround.
A mixture of patterns and textures throughout the home reaffirms the traditional and charming look Karla was going for when renovating the house.
The family room, which is adjacent to the kitchen’s eat-in area, is both elegant and relaxed, with a neutral colour scheme and a mix of classic and clean-lined furnishings.