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Get cooking, The recipe for a fabulous and functional kitchen

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Get cooking, The recipe for a fabulous and functional kitchen

Photography by Stephani Buchman

When it comes to dream home designs, a fabulous kitchen always tops my clients’ must-have list. The kitchen is, by far, the hardest-working room in the home. It’s used multiple times a day, for a variety of tasks from cooking and dining, to homework and entertaining. Needless to say, it has to be functional. Kitchens also yield the best return on your investment in terms of resale value.

For these homeowners, the kitchen design project began with a simple request: function. This family with two busy boys and a hectic lifestyle were in need of some order in the form of flow and storage and we added some style for good measure.

Kitchen challenges

Right off the bat, there were some obstacles to address. The kitchen was dark, dated and very orange. The cooking area was closed off, which made it impossible to watch the boys while tending to kitchen chores – and let’s face it, parents with young kids spend a disproportionately large amount of time in the kitchen. We removed the wall to the living room to open sight lines and improve flow.

This kitchen was burdened by a big bulkhead between the cooking and eating area, which housed a beam from a previous renovation. We were also faced with a large, irregular height island, very limited wall storage, virtually no upper cabinets, two odd little windows, and an awkwardly positioned refrigerator that obviously ignored the “golden triangle” theory.

Despite its flaws, this kitchen had some good bones that laid the groundwork for a stunning, fully functional hub of the home.

“A custom built-in banquette becomes the perfect setting for meals, homework and crafts.”

Footprint improvements

We began the transformation by re-jigging the kitchen’s footprint. Admittedly, this isn’t always what a client wants to hear, as re-routing electrical and plumbing come at a somewhat hefty cost. But ultimately, most people will also agree that the functional lift you’ll see from a more efficient kitchen footprint is worth the expense. By changing the floor plan, we improved flow, closed off the two windows, and added a cooktop with an efficient range-hood insert.

The placement of the fridge was also problematic, so we recommended relocating it to an area that offered more open access. The homeowners were surprised and delighted with the suggestion, and ultimately this small move was a game-changer for how they now use the kitchen.

Embrace custom features

“Custom” is another word that puts the scare in budget-minded clients, but custom cabinets can be found in a range of materials, colours, finishes and price points, and they’re generally a worthwhile investment in the name of function. Custom kitchen cabinets in this space allowed us to amp up the storage capacity, which in turn opened up the rest of the space and made it that much more functional.

A custom built-in banquette becomes the perfect setting for meals, homework and crafts. We selected a durable vinyl for the seat with a small-print fabric for the back, which makes it feel cosier all around. Toss cushions add comfort and colour. Storage underneath is a perfect hideaway.

Fixtures and finishes

Beyond function, esthetics always play a vital role in good design. The kitchen cabinets offer a dark, almost-black look, which contrasts beautifully with the unlacquered brass pulls. The brass kitchen faucet by Rubinet adds sparkle with the added local bonus as they are made here in Canada.

We added some character and warmth with the walnut bar cabinet, which also serves to conceal a support post for the beam above. This provided a clever solution to hide this unsightly structural element.

Brass architectural mesh on the cabinet doors allow ventilation for the coffee machine situated inside, as well as quartz counter inside to protect the cabinet from coffee spills.

Unique brass brackets for the counter overhang add character, while the cognac leather stools are a rich complement to the dark-coloured island.

Easy, breezy style

A farmhouse sink and square subway tile keep the space feeling relaxed and much to the homeowners’ delight, make it easy to keep clean. After all, isn’t low-to-no-maintenance the ultimate in “function?”

The homeowners love their new kitchen and marvel at how much simpler their day-to-day life is post-renovation. A little function goes a long way.

Designer Rebecca Hay is principal of Rebecca Hay Designs Inc., a Toronto-based Design firm specializing in classically livable family homes. Offering complete decorating and renovating services for over a decade, Rebecca and her team manage all of the details from start to finish. Known and celebrated for her design work and appearances on various acclaimed HGTV shows, Rebecca is an active YouTuber, you can also follow her daily design adventures on Instagram. Servicing clientele throughout Toronto, Muskoka and throughout Canada. RebeccaHayDesigns.com

SOURCES PENDANT LIGHTS, CB2, Globe pendant light – large CABINETS, custom designed by Rebecca Hay Designs STOOLS, CB2, Roadhouse 24″ Leather counter stool SINK, Franke farmhouse sink KITCHEN FAUCET, Rubinet CABINET HARDWARE, Rejuvenation Mission drawer handle, Mission pyramid cabinet knob, Mission bin pull CABINET COLOURS, Racoon Fur, Chantilly Lace, Benjamin Moore QUARTZ COUNTER, Silestone – Eternal Statuario (suede finish) APPLIANCES, GAS COOKTOP, Kitchenaid 30″ OVEN COMBO, KITCHENAID FRIDGE, SIRIUS HOOD FAN, Miele DISHWASHER (panel ready) AREA RUG, Custom by Studio BANQUETTE, custom DINING PENDANT, Matteo Particles BACKSPLASH TILE, Olympia tile, Max white 6″ x 6″ subway tile


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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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