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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

By Jo Alcorn

Sometimes the best design decision is not to change things too much. Let me explain. I was recently working with a client who wanted to update her kitchen. She consulted with me to figure out how to spend her modest budget wisely while accomplishing a new look.


Like most people, her dream plan included replacing the cupboards to have more efficient storage. After an honest appraisal with a critical eye, I could see that wasn’t entirely necessary. She didn’t even need to paint them – she just needed to lighten the space up and get creative with functionality, and there were far less expensive and easier ways to do that. The overall footprint of the kitchen was good, so just a few adjustments to the cupboards were necessary. By adding Gliding Shelf Solutions (glidingshelf.ca) within the cabinets, we were able to solve the efficiency issue and add extra storage on a budget. Not having to do a full demolition of the existing kitchen put money back into the budget for what truly mattered, and splurging on the proper key elements.


Changing out the countertops was mandatory. We needed to lighten up the space to make it feel more open, and to balance the darkness of the cabinet colour. We chose Caesarstone’s (caesarstone.ca) Empira White marble quartz because of its classic white base with deep grey veins to accent and complement the cabinet colour. This beautiful countertop modernized their kitchen instantly. Plus, it’s durable and easy to clean, so it’s a perfect balance of fashion and function for a busy household.


This kitchen needed a new backsplash. We chose white, beveled edge subway tile for its timeless-simplicity, and to play off the new countertops. By using larger tiles, this kitchen kept its clean lines, but the tapered edge offered elegant detailing. The custom range hood became the focal point of this space. We removed the small useless cabinet above the metal range hood that was more of an eye-sore than a focal point. By making it white, it pulled the colour scheme of the kitchen together perfectly.

New appliances

A Whirlpool black stainless-steel kitchen suite (whirlpool.ca) kept the continuity of colour in this kitchen. I love to match cabinet colours and appliances whenever I can; making your appliances blend into the shades of the kitchen gives the illusion of a larger space. The appliances are fingerprint resistant, which helps keep things looking sleek and fresh with minimal upkeep. Having the counter-depth refrigerator further made the space more open and accessible. On top of that, the French door option allows for more clearance when the door is open, which makes it easier to have two people in the kitchen at once. While the kitchen used to have a microwave stand to the right of the range, replacing it with a custom wine rack, colourmatched to the cupboards, was far more visually appealing. Fear not, they still have a microwave – it’s tucked out of sight and utilizing a wasted corner.

Shelving with purpose

Notice the floating shelves? I removed the closed cabinets to modernize the look. By tiling that whole wall and adding the natural wood tone of the shelving it creates a more up to date, open look. I wanted to replace the tan floor tiles, but the cost, timing and mess didn’t warrant it. Instead, I used the shelves, chairs and accessories to tie it all together, making the floor seem more purposeful, instead of like the elephant in the room. It’s also nice to have an element from nature (wood) to help ground the space and add an organic feel to the design.

Finishing details

While the cupboards were able to be used, the hardware had to go. The new, modernized, brass handles were the perfect accents. And I was able to include a pendant light over the sink to match. I would have liked to include pendant lighting all around the kitchen, but the light locations didn’t align with the table, so this was a perfect compromise. As I shopped for the appliances, I found an ultra-useful stand mixer in blue, and I knew it would be so useful and fun for this busy family. I choose accent pieces like the dishware and vase in a coordinating blue. The floor runners also have a blue tie accent. While many people hesitate to include a runner in a kitchen, I love it. They keep your feet warm, add softness to the space and tie colours in. The secret is to buy ones that are machine washable.

I know this once basic builder kitchen has transformed into a kitchen that suits the family’s modern lifestyle. Remember, don’t be too quick to replace your entire kitchen; sometimes, a strategic update is the better way. And it can save you a bundle!

HGTV Jo Alcorn is an interior and product designer for Alcorn Home, she has a full home furnishing and pet line collection displayed and sold across Canada and the U.S. She is known for her clean line savvy design concepts. Alcornhome.com


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Top 3 things to consider when remodeling your kitchen

Top 3 things to consider when remodeling your kitchen

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Top 3 things to consider when remodeling your kitchen

A good kitchen has to fill many roles. Sure, there’s the obvious one – a place where you can prepare and serve food. But cooking takes a lot of time (cleaning, too), so it needs to be a place where you feel comfortable, relaxed, and happy.

The kitchen is also a common meeting spot for when you have a friend over for a cup of coffee or a whole bunch of friends over for a party. For parents, it often becomes the base of operations where you serve the kids breakfast, give them their lunch before sending them off to school, and try to curb their sugar intake during snack-time.

It’s not surprising then that the kitchen, along with the bathroom (another major base of operations, if you know what I mean), is one of the most popular rooms for homeowners to remodel. Before you start thinking about a long and possibly expensive home improvement project, though, consider these three factors:


Probably the easiest (and most fun) part of remodeling a kitchen is envisioning what you want it to look like. Much like your wardrobe, your home is a reflection of who you are as a person, and few rooms offer as many opportunities to express yourself through design and decor as the kitchen. Whatever your style – classic, modern, rustic, retro – your kitchen is a perfect canvas.

Maybe you’re a quirky person with a nostalgic heart. Instead of a boxy white refrigerator, why not get a curvy vintage model? Heck, you can make the whole place look like a 1950s rock ‘n’ roll diner if you want. Perhaps you like high-tech gadgetry. Did you know you can cook a meal in your crock pot using your smartphone? Or that Wi-Fi equipped scales can help you readjust entire recipes to accommodate the ingredients you have on hand? Even without going retro or futuristic, there’s a lot to think about: Paint colors, cabinet shapes and decorations. Go wild.


If form is all about exercising your right brain’s emotional side, then function is where your left brain’s practical side comes in. It’s important to find a balance between both. Your kitchen should be a place with an atmosphere and style that makes you happy to be there, but it also needs to be a place where all your meal-making needs are met.

When planning to remodel, think about all the necessities a good kitchen requires in order to fulfill its purpose. Make a list of important appliances. Think about how much storage you’ll need for food, utensils and cookware. Remember: Plenty of countertop space is a must when you’re doing meal prep. If you like eating in your kitchen, make sure to leave room for a dining nook or a central island. Last but not least, try not to cram too much into too small a space. Cooking is a lot easier when you can navigate your kitchen with convenience and ease, after all.


The final consideration is both the least pleasant and the most important: Affordability. Your imagination can come up with all kinds of cool renovations, but only your bank account can make them a reality. How much you have isn’t the only thing worth considering, though. There’s also the question of worth.

For instance, if you’re looking to add value to your home for resale, remodeling the kitchen could be a great way to do that. Or it could be a money pit. Using a seller closing costs calculator can help you determine if the added expense is worth adding on top of everything else. The truth is, not every kitchen needs a full-blown makeover. If funds are tight or your kitchen is mostly satisfactory, ask yourself if you can’t achieve the same goals with just a few small changes instead. Sometimes less really is more.


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Product Showcase: Appliances

Product Showcase – appliances

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Product Showcase – appliances

Premium design & efficiency

The Whirlpool compact washer and dryer has a 24-in. width and ventless design. It is flexible enough to install virtually anywhere, making it their most space-saving design available. Available at Canadian Appliance Source, its minimal frame allows it to fit perfectly within a modern style living space. The Whirlpool 24-in. font load washer and dryer are the perfect addition to condo living, thanks to its compact, efficient, and premium design.


Steam & convection a super combo

The JennAir 24-in. Steam and Convection oven, available at Appliance Canada, is a versatile wall oven that uses steam to preserve nutrients in vegetables and tenderness in meats, and convection for evenly-baked pastries and roasts. Use steam and convection together for food that’s tender inside and roasted or crisped outside. It features 4.8-in. Glass Touch Controls with LCD.


For the love of cooking

Designed with absolute attention to quality performance, and state-of-the-art design, SMEG’s Portofino range is “Made in Italy” and available in eight colours and multiple configurations. Complete the look with a decorative wall hood and you’ll have a perfect and elegantly aligned focal point.


Integrated column refrigeration

Introducing the next generation in Fisher & Paykel refrigeration. With new flush-fit design and the ability to easily slide into existing kitchen spaces or be integrated behind kitchen cabinetry, these family-size refrigerators offer a seamless look to the kitchen while providing excellent food care with ActiveSmart Foodcare. Column Refrigeration gives you true personalization with independent temperature zones and the ability to mix and match sizes in your kitchen for perfect design freedom.


Elegant new colour

The 24-in. Black Stainless Steel Microwave Drawer is the latest addition to Sharp’s line of Kitchen Appliances. As a complimentary appliance in a black stainless kitchen, its rich, elegant finish is an absolute show-stopper for your dream kitchen. Coupled with the convenience features and quiet operation that are standard to all of Sharp’s products, this model allows you to showcase your design savvy and create a premium kitchen that flows with your lifestyle.



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Kitchen Appliances aren't what they used to be!

Kitchen appliances aren’t what they used to be!

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Kitchen appliances aren’t what they used to be!

Kitchens are and always will be the heart of any home! The kitchen has come a long way from simply being a utilitarian space, to a space that exudes personality and character while integrating beautifully with the rest of your home. The personality of your kitchen develops with the design — through your cabinetry, finishes, colours and design details. However, recently we have been seeing our appliances becoming more of a focal point and contributing to the overall aesthetics of our kitchens. Whether appliances are integrated or a stand-alone feature, they are definitely making themselves noticed – and for all the right reasons.

The appliances alone cannot create a beautiful kitchen. However, they are critical to the overall design and function of your space, and when well-selected can deliver large on aesthetics. Appliances are colourful, bold, streamlined and impactful. They can elevate your kitchen while delivering the “restaurant-quality” professional-grade features that many of us desire. Whether large or small, they are meant to be seen and are inspirational to kitchen design.

The selections these days are endless. French door refrigerators or door-in-door refrigerators, gas range or induction, double ovens or perhaps French door ovens, dishwasher drawers, undercounter microwaves, refrigerator drawers, warming drawers, built-in coffee centres — the list can go on and on. All have their own benefits, whether it’s space accommodating, ease of access or luxury features, the appliances of today deliver large on all fronts. They are being outfitted with Bluetooth capabilities to easily integrate into our Smart-Home systems to make our lives just a little easier; and some are bypassing the traditional “knobs” for the sleek look of “touch and swipe” controls that are inspired by our smart phones.

When you are looking to purchase new appliances, it’s really best to do your research and have a good understanding of what is available, what works for your budget and what features you will actually require, or use. Small appliances have also made huge strides in design, professional-grade features and, most excitingly, in colours. Fun coloured Kitchen-Aid stand mixers or Breville barista stations are a fantastic complement to any kitchen counter. Not only functional, they add a great pop of colour to any kitchen. Also, we have seen the emergence of exciting new small appliances such as a countertop beer brewing station.

Stainless appliances still have their popularity. However, white appliance are coming back in full force. The modernized white appliances feature stainless accents and fit beautifully with many design styles. Matte black stainless is also a great finish for kitchen appliances, offering a sleek and modern alternative to the traditional stainless appliances. Truth be told, the colours and finishes of some appliances are downright amazing and offer a great deal of “design inspo.” Custom finished range hoods that create a focal point in your kitchen can be a great design touch, but so can a fun vintage-inspired retro pink fridge. Highlights of antique brass for the knobs and handle on your range might be just enough of a detail for you, or a bright fun orange for your range is more in line with the inspiration for your new kitchen. Whichever way you decide to go, the options are available and the inspirations are countless.

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.



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The Future Of Kitchens

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The Future Of Kitchens

By Mauricio Guitron
photo courtesy Irpinia Kitchens

Innit is a food platform that has connected the entire food journey. According to them, home renovators and builders need to look to the future when planning their kitchen remodel, or it might soon become obsolete.

Here are five ways to make sure you “future-proof” any kitchen remodel:

Similar to how we use platforms that manage our living room entertainment, connecting our music, tv shows, movies and games, our kitchens will soon be managed by platforms that help plan, grocery shop, prepare and cook.

Download apps that help you control your kitchen with your voice, such as those you can direct to turn your oven on remotely, get video instructions on mastering common cooking techniques, or even receive step-by-step cooking guidance.

If your new kitchen appliances can’t connect to the Internet, they’re already outdated. Connectivity (which comes at a relatively low price point) allows ovens to control the baking for you—simplifying the cooking process and creating a more flavorful version of your dish.

When choosing a countertop skip the stone and opt for Smart countertops. Appliances suitable for these countertops can run right on the surface, creating new meaning to “added surface space.”

There are many appliances that are now wireless and compatible with smart countertops (that charge them). A wireless kitchen reduces the number of cords, which is extremely important near kitchen sinks!

Innit is a centralized platform that connects the eating ecosystem in the kitchen — planning, shopping, prepping, and cooking. It provides an instant kitchen upgrade—from streamlining the meal process with personalized meal recommendations to helping control wifi-enabled appliances.

For further information visit innit.com.


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Luxury Appliance Trends

Luxury Appliance Trends

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Luxury Appliance Trends

by Margaret Macdonald

With exceedingly busy lives, both style and convenience in appliances are becoming more paramount in today’s ever-changing world. Appliances, for example, have come a long way from the brash style of the 1970s harvest gold refrigerator and stove era. Technologically speaking, appliances have progressed light years from energy-wasting refrigerators and coil element stove tops.

The top three trends on the appliance market today are integrated refrigeration, induction cooking and convection steam cooking.

Subzero drawer refrigerator
Subzero drawer refrigerator

Integrated Refrigeration

Aesthetically, a huge trend in residential kitchens is that less is more. Minimalist design trends demand the need for fully integrated appliances with refrigeration seamlessly blending into the adjacent cabinets.

Fully integrated refrigerators are typically 24-inches deep and require a cabinet door front (panel ready) from the cabinetmaker to be installed directly on the appliance. These refrigerators can include full-height models as well as under-counter versions.

With so many options on the market, what is the right choice? Aside from functionality and performance, a big consideration would be the hinges: are they completely concealed and do they allow for a 3-mm to 6-mm reveal between the adjacent cabinetry? A minimal reveal will allow for the perfect alignment to match the cabinetry. Cabinets typically have a 3-mm reveal, which is the gap between cabinet doors and/or drawer fronts.

Another consideration would be the adjustment flexibility of the cabinet door front on the appliance (the adjustment capabilities are dictated by the appliance manufacturers specifications), allowing side-to-side, up-and-down and in-and-out adjustments of the panel, which guarantees a perfect fit. Integrated refrigerators have heights that can vary from brand to brand. Make sure you check specs carefully with the cabinetmaker.

Wolf induction cooktop
Wolf induction cooktop

Induction Cooking

One the best technological advances in the appliance industry, although often the most misunderstood, are induction cooktops and ranges. Induction cooktops offer a ceramic cooking surface which is great solution for today’s design trends. With decreased cooking times and superior ease of use, the benefits are almost limitless.

But what exactly is induction cooking? Electricity flows under the ceramic surface, which generates a magnetic field and in turn causes electrons to vibrate. This vibration causes the pan to heat up immediately. Because of the magnetic field, only magnetic cookware will work. Induction cookware is now very common and can be purchased everywhere cookware is available.

The cooking surface itself does not heat up – only the pan. This whole process can cut down on cooking time by up to 40 per cent compared to gas and standard electric cooking. Imagine boiling a pot of water in less than 60 seconds. Induction cooking also makes cleanup of the cooktop a breeze because the area outside of the cookware doesn’t heat up, hence no more scorched boil overs.

Convection Steam Cooking

Although convection steam cooking has been around for over 40 years, this cooking style has gained popularity in the last few years. Often when we imagine steam cooking, we think of food that is bland and void of flavour, colour and crispness. But this is not the case.

Convection steam ovens use both convection heat (air which is circulated in the oven for a more consistent heat and quicker cooking time) and steam (heat from the oven turns water into steam, which allows for the food to be moist and hold in more nutrients). Typically these two cooking methods can be used independently of each other or in tandem. From baking the most incredible loaves of bread with a beautifully browned, crisp crust and a fluffy, moist inside, or to baking the perfect pizza that you swear was cooked by your local pizzeria, convection steam ovens are the perfect addition to any kitchen.

You can also defrost in a convection steam oven – gone are the days of greyish, partially cooked meat from defrosting in a microwave. When defrosting frozen meat in the convection steam oven, the results are phenomenal. It’s as if you just picked up dinner at the local butcher.

MARGARET MACDONALD has been involved in kitchen design, both as an international designer and as A&D sales manager for luxury products for over 20 years.

Her vast wealth of experience in all areas pertaining to residential kitchen design has been invaluable in her current position as A&D, trade sales manager for Maroline Inc.


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Better Living Expert – Tomorrow’s Kitchen

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Better Living Expert – Tomorrow’s Kitchen

Vicky Sanderson

Kitchens evolve with high-tech, health-focused, and sustainable appliances

The kitchen may just be the hardest working room in the contemporary home. Increasingly connected, it links family members to each other and the rest of the world through technology, and frequently does double duty as a homework hub, social centre or home office.


A survey of 17 experts and 842 kitchen and bath retailers across nine countries—conducted by the Silestone Institute, which is led by global quartz surface producer Cosentino— suggests these trends will only accelerate over the next 25 years. Kitchens of the future, they suggest, will be flexible, family-friendly and highly functional.



Two major themes emerged: kitchen functions will continue to expand beyond socializing and eating, and emerging technology and materials will foster healthier eating habits and more sustainable lifestyles.

Appliance manufacturers are already responding to these drivers with smart appliances—large and small—and new materials that make it easy to bring the kitchen into the 21st century. Here are a few that have emerged during the last year.


Whirlpool’s clever food kitchen recycler Zera uses oxygen, moisture, heat, a plant-based additive, and an agitator to break down a week’s worth of food waste within 24 hours (based on an estimated 3.5 kg of weekly household food waste for an average American family.) Launched in the U.S. this summer, no word yet on when it will make it to Canada— fingers crossed!


Miele’s new Eco Flex dishwasher combines the efficiency of low-energy consumption with a powerful wash and dry cycle that’s completed in only 58 minutes. Like many of the new generation of appliances, it can be controlled remotely with an app.


“Foodie culture” is inspiring manufacturers to create userfriendly, flexible offerings. KitchenAid’s new counter-depth, French-door bottom-mount has a door-within-a-door feature that saves space and gives home chefs easy access to fresh ingredients.

Kitchen Aid


Multi-functional kitchen spaces need durable, design-friendly surfaces. Silestone quartz delivers, and its makers even say cooking elements and media screens embedded in the surface may not be that far off.


Philips Airfryer uses the circulation of hot air within a chamber to fry, bake, roast or grill—all using little or no oil. It doesn’t need to be pre-heated, and on hot days, it lets the home chef get a meal on the table quickly without heating up the kitchen.


Hamilton Beach’s programmable thermal coffee maker is a simple example of the trend toward kitchen elements being used throughout the house, such as, a fridge drawer in a bedside table or in a family room. The 10-cup thermal carafe can be transported anywhere— the porch or balcony in the morning, or dining room or den after dinner. Because coffee doesn’t sit on a heating element, it stays fresher longer.

Hamilton Beach


Eco-friendly initiatives can be simple to incorporate into the kitchen. Ikea’s Backig dinnerware, for example, is made partly of glass from its own factory scraps.




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Designer Touch : Room To Grow

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Designer Touch : Room To Grow

By Jackie Glass

Photography By Paul Chmielowiec

A bachelor-inspired kitchen design cleverly meets both single- and family-man lifestyles.


No longer the domain of women, single and married men alike are taking ownership of the kitchen and stepping up to the plate to express their confidence in cooking for themselves and their guests. Today’s self-sufficient bachelors are also weighing in on the style, functionality and performance of their kitchen. Not everyone has the space for a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, so ensuring every square inch is both efficient and beautiful is key to making time spent in there enjoyable.


When my friend and former Jackie Glass Inc. partner, Christine McGee and I were given the exciting challenge to design a bachelor’s newly purchased ‘70s-style urban bungalow, we really had to alter our mindset and put ourselves in the shoes of a young professional man who lives alone and loves to cook and entertain at home. Given clear direction, it didn’t take us long to come up with a grand plan for this small home and create a flexible open-floor plan design suitable for the life of a bachelor, from hosting game day for friends to preparing intimate dinners for two. And, as we all know, the life of a bachelor can be short-lived so planning for the future was important to the homeowner in terms of investment and lifestyle. When the time came, the home should be able to transition effortlessly from bachelorhood to family life with a minimal investment of time and money.


While we thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of creating a relaxed yet sophisticated home for this busy single man, the most fun was designing the hub of this newly remodelled home: the kitchen. With a few minor structural changes, mainly the partial removal of the wall between the kitchen and the living room to open up the space, a new modern culinary kitchen, designed for frequent cooking, dining and entertaining took shape. A galley-style kitchen, featuring specific elements tailored to the design esthetic and lifestyle of our bachelor. Spatially, its size and layout is efficient and offers room for two to cook comfortably together, with all the essentials close at hand. It was imperative that his time in the kitchen be enjoyable. For those of us who love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, we know the value of generous work surfaces, good lighting, durable finishes on cabinets, energy-efficient, high-performance appliances, countertops and walls that are easy to clean. When it came to style, a slick, modern look in a masculine colour palette pulled it all together.


Open to the living room, guests are free to mix and mingle with each other as well as with the cook when entertaining. A raised cocktail-cum-breakfast bar on the island is perfect for drinks or casual meals while a small dining area adjacent to the living room, with convenient access to the barbecue on the backyard deck, offers formal dining à deux as well as with friends and family.


The goal to design a modern, stylishly masculine kitchen, which could easily transition from a bachelor pad to a small-family home was achieved. Today, now a former bachelor, our client is a happy father of two, cooking for four and enjoying family life in a home designed for living exactly the way he had envisioned it to be.



  • CABINETS: Flat-panel solid walnut doors with simple brushed-nickel handles are easy to clean and offer a sleek modern look. Dark custom cabinets as opposed to white cabinets, when paired with light-coloured countertops and walls, create contrast and a more masculine appeal. Drawer organizers are essential to any busy kitchen and help keep countertops clutter-free.
  • FLOORS: Large-format porcelain floor tiles are super durable, easy to keep clean and petfriendly. Hardwood floors stained to match the walnut cabinets unify the open plan.
  • LIGHTING: Two large windows offer natural light by day while pendants flood the island and bar by night. The range hood illuminates the stovetop.
  • APPLIANCES: Guys love the power and high-performance of a stainless-steel gas range with convection oven. A stainless steel side-byside fridge/freezer with water and ice dispenser is a must in any culinary kitchen. No bachelor kitchen is complete without a microwave. The benefits of an under-cabinet beer fridge goes without saying on game day.
  • WALLS: Cabinets cover the walls and extend from floor to ceiling to maximize storage and keep everyday essentials out of sight and off the countertops. The backsplash, clad in large-format white marble tiles from countertop to ceiling is easy to maintain and offers the height of luxury in this stunning kitchen.
  • COUNTERTOPS: Quartz countertops in a light neutral colour are fitted with two stainless-steel undermounted sinks, a prep sink under the window and a double-bowl sink in the island. This is a great solution when two cooks are in the kitchen at one time. A raised bar on the island is perfect for breakfast and morning coffee or for guests to join the chef for a cocktail. It also hides the prep area and sink when entertaining.

Designer Jackie Glass is principal/owner of Jackie Glass Inc., a full-service interior design firm specializing in residential design, decor and renovation, servicing the GTA and surrounding areas. Glass, whose work is nationally recognized, is a regular design expert on Cityline. For more information, visit jackieglass.ca



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