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."
Take a tour of this chic condo space.
Furniture and textile designer Lori Harrison is a neat freak living and working in a small space. Here’s how she keeps her home looking stylish.
Textile and furniture designer Lori Harrison is inspired by imperfection – she once recreated the peeling plaster of a building’s facade she saw in Venice, California, on a toss cushion to glamorous effect. But when it comes to her home, Lori is committed to creating the picture of perfection.
From the harmonious earthy palette that looks sharp against the white walls to the bespoke accessories, every inch of the 900-square-foot, one-bedroom condo she shares with her husband, Michael Clark, is mellow, meaningful and cohesive – key in an open-concept space.
When the couple bought the place last year, in an intimate, three-storey Art Deco building in an upscale midtown Toronto neighbourhood, they loved the layout of the petite but already renovated apartment. So they used sparsely placed and low-slung furniture – some of it designed by Lori herself – and clean contemporary lines to make the small space feel large and evoke a cultured air.
The woodsy details and large fiddle-leaf fig tree give the living room of this Toronto home a comfy California feel. Mismatched side tables look relaxed and artsy – the one on the left is Lori’s design.
No backsplash? No problem. “I kind of like that there isn’t one, because it looks more contemporary,” says Lori of the gorgeously restrained kitchen, with its space-saving built-in walnut dining table that offers extra counter space when needed.
Sticking to simple decor, Lori uses minimalist aesthetic in the kitchen and throughout the home.
The streamlined bank of cabinetry – deep and wide for optimum storage space – with barely visible hardware is framed by a sleek Corian countertop and doesn’t read too kitcheny in the open-concept room.
Lori’s artistic temperament is evident in her casually chic home office. “The white bust is actually my neck – I made it for a university project – and the bare-chested illustration I did in high school,” says the talented artist.
“I wanted to colour coordinate the books in the office, but my husband [Michael Clark] wouldn’t let me,” says Lori. The wire chair is paired with one of her prototype toss cushions.
The couple’s tastes – he’s into traditional, she likes contemporary – are established in the hallway vignette, with a handsome cabinet Michael bought in Cambodia topped with modern artwork.
With soothing fall colours, luxe linens and Lori’s own artwork, the bedroom boasts a relaxed, pared-back vibe.
Homeowner Lori Harrison of Lori Harrison Designs is content in her live/work abode. It’s perfect for creating her artwork, textiles and furniture, which are available online and in shops across North America.
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.