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: Michael Nangreaves / Production: Christine Hanlon
Can you tell the difference between the high end and low budget Scandi-inspired dining room?
This eclectic Scandi-inspired dining room was crafted on budgets befitting a snug cabin and a luxe chalet. Can you tell the difference?
1 Mirror, Elte, $995; 2 Wallpaper, Thibaut at Kravet Canada, $126 per single roll; 3 Pendant light, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $150; 4 Pendant light, Universal Lamp, $585; 5 Dining table, Mobilia, $999; 6 Dining chairs, Art Shoppe, $499 each; 7 Ottoman, Elte, $1,195; 8 Rug, Wayfair.ca, $1,682; 9 Dining chair, Casalife, $1,100; 10 Tablecloth fabric, Designer Fabrics, $45 per yard; 11 Box, Elte, $1,795; 12 Table lamp, Universal Lamp, $830.
1 Mirror, Elte, $525; 2 Wallpaper, Thibaut at Kravet Canada, $97 per single roll; 3 Pendant light, Canadian Tire, $70; 4 Pendant light, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $450; 5 Dining table, EQ3, $599; 6 Dining chairs, IKEA, $99 each; 7 Ottoman, Elte, $775; 8 Rug, IKEA, $299; 9 Dining chair, Casalife, $484; 10 Tablecloth fabric, Designer Fabrics, $9 per yard; 11 Box, Elte, $825; 12 Table lamp, Universal Lamp, $315.
No matter your budget, there are a few design tips that will help you create an on-trend room like either of these.
Master the art of mixing: When modernism meets minimalism, a chic Scandi look is born. But don’t be fooled – this design aesthetic is far from predictable. Take cues from the sought-after style, as we have in our High and Low rooms, by mixing and matching furnishings, pairing sculptural black chairs with a sleek wooden one of similar build and then tossing in an über-plush ottoman for an unexpected touch of texture. Staggering light fixtures that vary in hue and scale strikes the ultimate stylish cord.
Pick accents that never go out of style: Glam brass accents will never fall out of fashion. It’s a notion contributing design editor Christine Hanlon stands behind: “I’ve purchased beautiful vintage brass pieces over the years, and I always have them on hand to add warmth and character to a display,” she says. She suggests scouring flea markets for hidden gems that do double duty, such as her footed bowl that also serves as a planter.
Try a DIY napkin project: Give a soft, organic feel to a modern tablescape with DIY frayed napkins. Cut your preferred size from a piece of linen and run the fabric through the washer to naturally fray the edges. Once it’s dry, pull at the ends with your fingers to emphasize the worn appearance. Juxtapose the look with sleek, bold flatware.
Dare to go wild with wallpaper: With a pared-back, monochromatic design as our starting point, adding a hit of flavour in the form of this chinoiserie wallpaper came easy. Though the two styles don’t typically go hand in hand, the room’s clean-lined aesthetic lets us get away with it.
Not sure where to start? Go with the most important piece in the room, the dining table. Streamlined and slender, these Scandinavian-influenced dining tables are striking in their simplicity. Any one will bring raw and rustic appeal to your dining room, whatever your budget. Check out our six top picks in the slideshow below.
Walnut-veneered MDF Thao with rubberwood legs, Structube, $249.
Lisabo in Ash Veneer, IKEA, $259.
Lena Mid-Century dining table - large, West Elm, $499.
Stained acacia Kacia, EQ3, $599.
Walnut-veneered MDF Sareen with beech legs and antique brass caps, Mobilia, $999.
Sealed walnut Catalina, Casalife, $4,143.
Your guests will love these healthy and delicious brownies.
Delicious and nutritious beets are the secret ingredient in these dark chocolate brownies.
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8" square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2 Stir together the flour and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
3 Using an electric mixer, beat the melted butter with the brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating constantly; add the chocolate chips and vanilla extract and beat just until blended.
4 Add the flour and cinnamon mixture and beat until the batter is smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. Add the beets and stir through until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
5 Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until a knife inserted in the centre of the pan comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
6 Cool completely before turning out the brownies and cutting them into
squares to serve.
Prep & cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 16 squares
Experiment with round mirrors for your bathroom vanity
From gold plumbing to statement art, these are the looks that are big for bathrooms in 2016.
Standard subway tile is getting a fresh makeover with 2016’s hottest tile trend. “Chevron tiles are huge for bathrooms this year, either on the floor or walls,” says Shirley. “Contrasting grout really helps to highlight tile patterns, and white or dark tiles look great paired with the trendy gold plumbing that’s popping up everywhere.”
It’s all about luxury when it comes to bathrooms this year, with traditional pedestal sinks and porcelain tubs making way for more intricate styles. “Sinks and bathtubs carved out of stone are a super luxe bathroom detail that has been showing up all over the place,” says Shirley. “The travertine stone here is becoming popular again, only this time it has a less tumbled earthy look - with its razor sharp edges, this stone is suddenly modern again.”
The bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the home, so why not add some personality to the space with your favourite artwork? “Statement art can be a major update for your bathroom, and in 2016 we’ll be seeing pieces that are really colourful or oversized,” says Shirley. “This bright graphic painting makes a big impact in the master bathroom.”
Sometimes all it takes is a fresh update to a standard classic in order to revive a dated space. “Round mirrors are replacing the traditional rectangular shape we’re used to seeing in a bathroom, adding a dynamic, unexpected graphic focal point,” says Shirley. “Pair them with hanging pendant lights or wall sconces on either side, taking the opportunity to mix the blacks and golds that are so hot for 2016.”
“Creative bathroom layouts are always current, especially in small spaces or urban condos,” says Shirley. “Placing a stand-alone tub inside an open shower is a great space saving technique and is a modern update on the standard shower-tub combo.”