Click to download: BoConcept
Image: Stacey Brandford / Styling: Ann Marie Favot
An all-white palette, glass backsplash, traditional architecture and contemporary furnishings create a chic cuisine.
As far as design overhauls go, this kitchen takes the cake. Once dark, narrow and tired, with basic fittings and worn-down finishes, it’s now light, bright and expansive – a contemporary design with serious wow factor, thanks to designer Shirley Meisels of MHouse. After living in this midtown Toronto Georgian-style house for 31 years, the homeowners were ready for a change. They wanted something youthful, fresh and modern, with ample room to host large family gatherings for their kids and grandchildren. Inspired by the European trend of marrying traditional architecture with modern design, the couple chose a mix of ultra-sleek details, such as minimalistic all-white cabinetry and a glass backsplash, and old-world elements like a coffered ceiling and sash windows. The result is not only a fresh youthful space where the family loves to hang out when they visit, but also one of the homeowners’ favourite spots in the house when they’re solo.
This kitchen overhaul included reconfiguring rooms (the laundry space was moved to the second floor and the powder room was relocated on the first) and adding an extension that replaced a covered porch at the back of the house. The resulting 22-by-20-foot kitchen is bright, expansive and full of character.
With practicality in mind, designer Shirley Meisels outfitted the kitchen with two types of countertop material. “Marble can be a little temperamental,” she says. “So we chose more durable composite quartz for the cooking areas and used marble on the island, which has no sink and won’t be used as a prep station.”
The uber-modern brass pendant lights, with their simple geometric design, as well as the iconic Louis Ghost stools, are sculptural focal points that add modern edge. The light oak floors were a happy accident. “Originally, they were going to be re-stained in a dark finish,” says Shirley. “But when the existing stain was stripped from the floor, the homeowners loved the lighter look and decided to keep it.”
Defined by a mix of old and new, the eat-in area features a Mid-Century Modern Saarinen dining table surrounded by Louis XVI-style dining chairs with wipeable white vinyl seats. “Those chairs used to be in my dining room,” says one of the homeowners. “They’re probably 36 years old and have been re-covered several times.” The windows and French doors lead to the backyard and let in lots of natural light.
Small hits of brass and a touch of colour bring this sleek modern white kitchen to life.
Perchoir pendant light in Brass, 18", Lambert & Fils, $945.
MDF 2-door Luna sideboard in White, Structube, $299.
Philippe Starck for Kartell polycarbonate One More stool in Clear, Design Within Reach, $585.
Safavieh glazed ceramic Tao garden stool, O.co, $126.
Stoneware Cambria dinner plate in Turquoise, Pottery Barn, $40 US per set of 4.
Oval marble-topped Marcel dining table, Elte Market, $2,975.
Image: Stephani Buchman
How a random Internet connection resulted in a cozy and luxuriously layered design for one family’s dream home.
Sometimes the perfect match comes at the most serendipitous time. Years ago, homeowners Peter Riggin and Alex Luby were searching for a sectional for their family room. They visited a store in Whitby, Ont., where Orsi Panos happened to be working as a designer, and she effortlessly connected them with exactly what they needed. Fast-forward a few years, and the homeowners were now ready to overhaul their whole home. Orsi’s name popped up on a friend’s social media profile; she now had her own design firm. It felt like fate.
The couple’s 2,800-square-foot home in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood had served the family (which includes daughters Mackenzie, 20, and Cassandra, 17) well for the past 16 years, but they were tired of the impractical design and outdated builder-basic finishes. So, with a function-focused wish list in hand, Peter and Alex tasked Orsi with creating a fresh interior vision.
On the top of the to-do list was the cramped, storage-challenged kitchen. While they initially debated removing the peninsula to open up the space, Orsi and the home owners ultimately decided to maintain the layout, providing more dining space so the couple can host company. Ductwork was strategically hidden behind panelling made to look like cabinetry and the cabinets were reconfigured to make it easy to access hidden space.
Another priority was addressing the living room’s functionality. A fireplace taking up most of one wall meant a lack of seating options. By removing the fireplace and instead adding one in the upstairs family room (not shown), Orsi could incorporate a slim sofa, a loveseat, arm chairs and stools, creating the perfect place for larger gatherings and book club meetings (Alex is an avid reader).
Choosing neutral furnishings meant cherished family items, such as the piano, oil lamp collection and artwork, could still take centre stage in the revamped space. “Mixing meaningful pieces with new ones creates the perfect balance for a soulful home,” says Orsi, who personalized even the colour palette.
Using a rich shade of blue (inspired by one of Alex’s purses) as a jumping-off point, Orsi worked her magic to imbue the entire home with a fresh and modern look that still feels warm, inviting and livable. Her effortless mix of recent purchases and old favourites, as well as her expert layering of textures, finishes and hues, add up to a functional and fashionable interior that’s big on character.
“When you’re redesigning a small house, plan carefully and personalize the process, and you’ll end up with your dream home,” says Orsi. It’s good advice, because it landed these homeowners in their perfect abode – and it’s all thanks to a random reconnection and being in the right place at the right time.
Removing the fireplace from this Toronto house’s living room allowed designer Orsi Panos to incorporate ample seating for the homeowners, who enjoy entertaining.
Wall panelling lends the entryway design prestige when little else would fit in the petite space save for a narrow console that serves as a drop-off spot for keys and mail.
The dining area adjacent to the kitchen provides maximum seating thanks to the bench and extendable dining table. An open-framed glass and metal shelving unit along the back wall provides not only a great spot to display decorative pieces but also plenty of storage for cookbooks and a mini-bar to serve guests.
The bright and eclectic living room is a lesson in layering done right. Crisp white walls are warmed by rich hits of blue, lush greenery and a whimsical collection of artwork and objets like homeowner Alex Luby’s exquisite vintage oil lamps. The family piano was a must-keep item for the homeowners – their daughters love to play.
With its crisp white cabinetry, warm walnut accents and quartz countertops, the chic kitchen now boasts a fresh look within the original layout. The bottom of the peninsula – painted rich blue – grounds the room and keeps it from feeling too uniform.
Because the family spends much of its time in the kitchen, Orsi decided to keep the pre-existing TV, but installed it in a dark-hued hutch to minimize its presence.
An inky blue accent wall draws attention to the luxurious upholstered bed frame. Articulating sconces installed above the bed in lieu of table lamps on the nightstands leave more room for personal items.
A bank of custom built-in closets was painted the same colour as the walls for a clean look. “We didn’t want them to attract much attention,” says Orsi.
Updated finishes give the ensuite bathroom a spa-like feel. Turquoise tiling in the shower echoes the touches of blue featured throughout the house.
Playroom design: Storytime-inspired playroom
A love of storytime inspired this simply decorated playroom where homeowner Perienne Sadler’s two girls can curl up with a good book – or three.
Perienne was happy to sacrifice a would-be office for a playroom because she needed to remove the toys from five-year-old Simone’s bedroom: “The little monkey was sneaking out of bed and playing during the night.” Plus, Perienne prefers all the adult spaces to be toy-free. “But I also felt it was important to have an area where the girls could really blossom creatively on their own,” she explains. Books were the design inspiration for the playroom, since Simone and her sister, Emmerson, 3, love storytime.
Perienne kept it practical and budget friendly by incorporating very little furniture – two wicker chairs are the only seating. “I figured the girls are young – they need space to move around, and half the time they sit on the carpet anyway,” she says. But the most sensible design element is the wall-to-wall picture ledges. “Simone and Emmerson are too young to read book spines, so displaying the covers allows them to choose exactly the ones they want.”
Perienne adorned the inside of the canvas teepee with fun toss cushions, a sheepskin rug and tiny white lights so the girls can comfortably read in it, too.
“Create a special space that encourages children’s minds to flourish rather than a dumping ground for toys.”
Image by: Williams-Sonoma
Getting a homemade dinner on the table on a busy weeknight is easier said than done—but these seven tools and gadgets will help make prepping, cooking and cleaning up a breeze.
From time-saving electronic tools to simple products that cut down on messes, these must-have kitchen items will ensure your weeknight cooking sessions are as stress-free as possible.
Being organized and prepping your ingredients before you start cooking is half the battle. Start by having a variety of small bowls on-hand so you can easily chop and measure what you need for any recipe. This set of four microwave and dishwasher-safe bowls will help you do just that.
Mini latte bowls, Anthropologie, US$12.
Compact and easy to use, an immersion blender makes a myriad of kitchen tasks speedy. From puréeing soups and sauces to making homemade dressing and smoothies, you’ll use this hand blender on a regular basis.
Kitchen Aid Ice Blue 2-Speed Hand Blender, Crate & Barrel, $83, on sale for $55
Small tools can sometimes have a big impact, and this one sure fits the bill. A spoon rest will allow you to minimize mess while you’re cooking by giving you an easy (and pretty!) spot to place a saucy spoon in between stirs.
Gisela Spoon Rest, Anthropologie, US$12
Place silicone liners on your baking sheet in place of parchment paper. Its non-stick surface gives baked treats the perfect texture, without having to wrestle with cutting parchment paper to size. These made-in-France mats are easy to clean and roll up for fast storage.
Silpat Silicone Cookie Sheet Liners, Williams-Sonoma, $32–39
This pretty print makes a useful addition to any kitchen space. It will give you all the kitchen conversions you need at a glance so you don’t have to find all your answers via Google.
Kitchen Conversion Chart, WeJustLikePrints via Etsy $10
One of the handiest tools in the kitchen, this rasp will allow you to finely grate garlic, spices, chocolate and citrus zest in a matter of seconds.
Microplane Rasp Grater, Williams-Sonoma, $22
A cookie scoop simplifies baking by ensuring that all of your cookies, muffins and cupcakes are evenly portioned out, every time! Available in two different sizes, it helps make homemade treats that much more bakery-worthy.
OXO Cookie Scoops, Williams-Sonoma, $19–20