Kitchen
Apr 11, 2016

Severely dated kitchen becomes a bright architectural gem

By: Donna Nebenzahl
Contemporary kitchen reno becomes an architectural gem

Contemporary kitchen with timeless appeal Author: Monic Richard

Kitchen
Apr 11, 2016

Severely dated kitchen becomes a bright architectural gem

By: Donna Nebenzahl

Architect Yannick Laurin of Montreal’s La Shed Architecture works wonders on a dated kitchen that perfectly combines contemporary styling with timeless appeal.


This 2,800-square-foot two-storey house in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, a lively borough in Montreal, wasn't always a light-filled modern architectural gem. The early-1900s property used to be a rundown duplex with a severely dated interior, but Bill and Erin Klein saw past that and knew they could create the exact space they wanted with some professional help. Four years after purchasing the space, the couple turned to architect Yannick Laurin, whose firm, La Shed Architecture, had already transformed many of the neighbourhood’s rowhouses. “La Shed has a good feel for the vibe of this area and knows how to give these places a sense of space and light,” says Erin. Good thing, since light was the main priority for her. The new open-concept layout, with an expansive kitchen and dining area featuring west-facing windows, was the perfect design for a growing family that now includes two small children. “While we’re making dinner at the kitchen island, we can still be part of the conversation and keep an eye on the kids,” explains Erin. “We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

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Severely dated kitchen becomes a light-filled architectural gem

Before: A closed-off kitchen with little room to move

THEN: There was limited connection between the living spaces and the backyard.

By: Donna Nebenzahl Source: Monic Richard; styling by Nicola Marc Credits: Style at Home

Severely dated kitchen becomes a light-filled architectural gem

After: Open-concept space with ample room to host

NOW: On the main floor, light pours into the kitchen from black-framed floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, which lead outside. Black was also used on the lower cabinets to ground the space and to contrast all the white. The white-painted exposed brick wall above the Corian perimeter countertop acts as a durable backsplash and adds a nostalgic touch. The sleek custom range hood enhances the modern look.

By: Donna Nebenzahl Source: Monic Richard; styling by Nicola Marc Credits: Style at Home

Severely dated kitchen becomes a light-filled architectural gem

Reaching the sky

THEN: With dropped ceilings and tiny windows, the back of the main-floor flat felt confined. NOW: Replacing the dropped ceilings with a smooth surface increased the space’s height by a foot, enhancing its airy vibe. The sustainable wide-plank birch floors also contribute to the light and spacious feel of the house. To create continuity, the same birch appears on the white Corian-topped island, which complements the less variegated birch on the nearby staircase.

By: Donna Nebenzahl Source: Monic Richard; styling by Nicola Marc Credits: Style at Home

Severely dated kitchen becomes a light-filled architectural gem

Functional displays

Floating maple cubbies help break up the expanse of white walls and cabinetry.

By: Donna Nebenzahl Source: Monic Richard; styling by Nicola Marc Credits: Style at Home

Severely dated kitchen becomes a light-filled architectural gem

Big adjustments

THEN: The small front vestibule had two doors - one to the main floor and the other to a staircase leading to the second floor. NOW: The staircase, now a major architectural statement, was flipped and pushed further back to provide more space in the entry. “We made the outside black and the inside birch to resemble a cut piece of fruit,” says Yannick. The staircase’s wide upper opening allows natural light from the massive skylight to flood the two storeys.

By: Donna Nebenzahl Source: Monic Richard; styling by Nicola Marc Credits: Style at Home

Severely dated kitchen becomes a light-filled architectural gem

Wide open view

THEN: The view to the front of the house was originally blocked off; the main-floor entry opened onto a small living room. NOW: In the open-concept layout, the sculptural staircase connects the front of the house (a bathroom and small office) to the back (the kitchen and dining area). On the second floor, a white-painted perforated steel catwalk connects the corridor to the staircase. “We used perforated steel so it wouldn’t block the light,” says architect Yannick Laurin.

By: Donna Nebenzahl Source: Monic Richard; styling by Nicola Marc Credits: Style at Home
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Severely dated kitchen becomes a bright architectural gem