Tag Archives: kitchen renovation

Home Improvements: Renos that boost your R.O.I.

Renos that boost your R.O.I.

Latest News

Renos that boost your R.O.I.

Illustration by Rachel Joanis

So, you’ve decided to sell your home. That means you’ve also likely tossed around the idea of a home renovation to yield the best possible profit. Here are four home renovations that yield the highest payoff.


It’s the beating heart of the home. This is the most-significant and most-expensive room to renovate, but it also gives you the highest return on your investment. There are a few reasons for this. Kitchens are a pain to renovate, from the inconvenience of functioning without a kitchen for weeks (or months) and the effort required to coordinate or complete the work. That means buyers are often willing to pay a premium for a home with a brand-new kitchen. Always choose quality over quantity – a cheap or poorly done renovation can decrease your home’s value.


Much like the kitchen, bathrooms are difficult to renovate, and many homebuyers will pay extra for the convenience of having it done for them. Spa-inspired bathrooms are a common upgrade in older homes when the bath was considered a utilitarian room versus a feature space. A bigger, brighter bathroom with custom elements, such as vanity and countertops, unique tile work, fabulous lighting and extras like a steam shower, make-up area or a meditation zone can bring in the bucks on resale.

Income suite

An income suite is a biggie – especially in pricey urban housing markets such as Toronto and Vancouver. Young homebuyers often look to tenants to help them pay off their hefty mortgage, and multi-generational households can reside together with greater cost-efficiency and privacy. Look at secondary suites for rent in the area to get a feel for what those units look like, and how much they rent for. This will be a great selling point for your home.

In the current sellers’ market, a fairly-priced home shouldn’t stay on the market for too long. Every homeowner is looking to get the biggest bang for their buck, and the quickest possible sale – which translates to even more money in your pocket. Work with your realtor to determine what renovations make sense in the current marketplace, and for some tried-and-true advice on how to get everything done.


Here are some more tips to help sellers keep their eyes on the prize:

  1. Renovate for your target buyer, not for yourself. Your realtor can advise you on the types of renovations that will resonate with buyers in your area, and of the kind of home you’re selling.
  2. Work with an experienced contractor who’s familiar with the type of work you’re planning. Check out their portfolio, ask for references and contact them.
  3. Before any work begins, ensure your contract stipulates precisely what work is being done, what materials and products are being used, the budget and the timeline for completion.
  4. Do it by the book. Don’t try to save on costs by skipping the permits or taking shortcuts in the work. This will only end up hurting your bottom line, not helping.

Heather Hadden, Principal at Hadden Homes, notable top real-estate professional in GTA is focused on providing comprehensive full-service real-estate support for all new and existing homeowners.

Making you love where you live once again.


Featured Products

White Kitchens are totally timeless

White kitchens are totally timeless

Latest News

White kitchens are totally timeless

To say white kitchens are popular is a bit of an understatement. Over the years, we have seen that trends are moving away from whites with the rise of colourful cabinetry and appliances, or with the return of warm wood tones. In the end white cabinets are still a sought-after mainstay. The bright, fresh look and feel of white kitchen cabinetry never really loses its appeal, and for many is the goal for their kitchen renovation.

Kitchens are the heart of the home and really should reflect your own personal style and way of living. White cabinets are always timeless, and an easy commitment with a lot of flexibility when it comes to the final aesthetics of your kitchen. Moving beyond an all white kitchen can open you up to a world of finishes, colours and inspirations that can see a bit of the current kitchen trends introduced into your space. Whether you add some dimension to your kitchen with a patterned backsplash, a great impactful floor tile, touches of coloured cabinetry or mixed metals and hardware, there are a multitude of ways to shake off the simple all-white kitchen.

Another way to change up the all-white vibe of your space is by using warmer whites for the finishes. There are an infinite number of tones and shades of whites; moving to a warmer white tone can make all the difference to your cabinetry, tile and overall look and feel of your kitchen.

As shown in these images, by using a much warmer white for one of our kitchen designs, and punching it up with a great charcoal coloured floor tile, we have added a bit of a modern feeling to a more traditional setting. In contrast, the stark white kitchen with warm walnut accents definitely conveys a more modern space.

I love the look of white mixed with wood accents. White oak is gaining popularity now as a wood finish and it pairs perfectly with white to create a great look that satisfies so many different styles and settings. You can easily introduce a wood feature in your kitchen by way of floating wood shelves, an island, countertop, wood inlay tiles for your backsplash, hardware or something as simple as barstools. Whichever way best suits your desires you’re sure to see the end result is fantastic and feels much warmer and more inviting than an all-white kitchen.

Today, the movement is more towards a streamlined look that highlights simplicity, functionality, and minimalism. Though the white-on-white kitchen has waned in popularity, white cabinetry will always be timeless. When looking for inspiration for your kitchen renovation, look to see how you can introduce a mix of colours, textures, and finishes that will create a kitchen space that keeps you moving forward trend-wise, while still giving you the white kitchen you desire!

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.



Featured Products

Top 3 things to consider when remodeling your kitchen

Top 3 things to consider when remodeling your kitchen

Latest News

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.


Featured Products

How to find the best kitchen stone countertops in Toronto

How to find the best kitchen stone countertops in Toronto

Latest News

How to find the best kitchen stone countertops in Toronto

In 2020, stone countertops can make a wonderful addition to any kitchen renovation or remodel project. In fact, new stone countertops can easily turn even the dingiest, most outdated kitchens into breath-taking, stylish, executive-looking kitchens.

Whether you choose marble, granite, or quartz countertop, there’s just something about a stone countertop that you won’t find when installing wood or composite countertops.

Stone countertops are timeless, durable and considerably more eye-catching than other materials. And on top of that, kitchen stone countertops are almost guaranteed to add a significant amount of value to your home.

However, you might wonder where the best places are to find stone countertops in Toronto. Rest assured that you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s go over a few tips to help you find the best kitchen stone countertop retailers in Toronto.

How to choose the best place for your stone countertops

When searching for new countertops in the GTA, it’s important to understand that not every store is going to be the best place to purchase your materials.

For example, some stores might offer only the best, top-of-the-line materials, but their prices might be far outside of budget. Or on the other hand, some stores might offer significantly better prices, but they might not offer much in terms of selection. Also, there are some companies, such as stonewizards.ca, that can offer best countertops for your kitchen for a reasonable price. Your goal is to find such companies and deal with them.

Therefore, it’s vital that you shop around and do a bit of research before diving headfirst into your project.

Let’s take a look at the most important factors to consider when shopping around for the best stone countertops in Toronto.

Stay on budget

Obviously, there are dozens of countertop retailers in the GTA. This is exactly why it’s so important to understand that not every one of them is going to keep its customers’ best interests in mind at all times.

In fact, many stone countertop retailers charge significantly more for the same products that can be found at another store for a much cheaper price.

This illustrates why it’s so important to shop around and compare prices before purchasing your countertops from any store.

Before shopping around, make sure to identify your budget range. Then, make a list of a few stores in the area that you might be interested in purchasing from. Finally, contact these stores and get a rough estimate of the cost of your project.

Any companies that give you a quote outside of your budget range, you can automatically dismiss from your list.

Companies that fit within your budget can be shortlisted, and you can move on to researching them and learning about their experience and expertise in the industry.

Choose experience

While being a newer company doesn’t necessarily mean a business doesn’t have the skills or experience needed for the job, it does mean that dealing with them might be a little riskier.

However, it’s vital to ensure that the company you choose to deal with has the necessary experience and know-how when it comes to stone kitchen countertop installation.

When talking to potential retailers, make sure to ask them about their experience, how long they’ve been in business, and what they believe their customers like about their service.

In one way, this might put the salesman on the spot. But if they do indeed have experience and are knowledgeable about stone countertops and installation, they shouldn’t have any trouble answering any questions that you throw at them.

On the other hand, if you ask questions and the salesman stammers or has trouble directly answering your questions, it’s a good indication that you’re not dealing with a knowledgeable or experienced company. And it might be better to contact the next company on your list.

Read reviews

Finally, it’s important to read reviews and get to know what other people are saying about a company.

Think about it this way: When a person takes the time to write a review, they’re not going to lie about how they really feel. This is why it’s important to take some time and do a bit of research.

Before you make a decision, make sure to look up any prospective companies on Google or Facebook, and read through their reviews.

When a customer is satisfied with the services they’ve received, they’re going to be more than happy to share this information and recommend the company to others. On the other hand, when a person is dissatisfied or has had a bad experience, they’re going to be just as adamant about telling other customers.

Just keep in mind that it’s impossible for any company to keep every one of their customers happy all of the time. So, don’t automatically dismiss a company just because you see one or two bad reviews.

However, if you notice that a company has significantly more bad than good reviews, you might want to think twice before choosing them.

The best stone countertops in Toronto

When looking for stone countertops in Toronto, it’s best to take some time and do some research before diving headfirst into your renovation or remodel project.

Toronto is a large city and there are going to be tons of companies to choose from. That’s why you need to learn about your options first in order to find the best supplier for your countertop material.


Featured Products

Kitchen reno on a budget? We show you how!

Kitchen reno on a budget? We show you how!

Latest News

Kitchen reno on a budget? We show you how!

I was consulted to help figure out how to best spend a client’s modest budget, wisely, on a kitchen reno, while accomplishing a new look. She wanted to replace her cupboards for more efficient storage. After an honest appraisal and a critical eye, I could see that it wasn’t, entirely, necessary. We didn’t even need to paint them. What was needed was far less expensive and easier to do. We needed to lighten the space up and be creative with functionality. The overall footprint of the kitchen was good, so just a few adjustments to the cupboards were necessary. By adding gliding shelf solutions within the cabinets, we were able to solve the efficiency issue and added extra storage on a budget. Not having to do a full demolition of the existing kitchen put money back into the budget for what needed doing, and splurging on the key elements.

Changing out the countertops was mandatory. We needed to lighten up the space to make it feel more open, and to balance off the darkness of the cabinet colour. We chose Caesarstone‘s Empira White marble quartz, because of its classical white base with deep grey (almost black) veins to accent and tie in with the cabinet colour. This countertop modernized the kitchen, plus it’s durable and easy to clean.

This kitchen also needed a new backsplash. We chose a simple, white bevelled edged subway tile for its elegance and simplicity. Because it’s timeless and classic, it won’t go out of style. By using larger tiles, we maintained clean lines, but the tapered edge offered deluxe detailing.

The custom range hood became the focal point of this space. We removed the small (useless) cabinet above the metal range hood. By making it white, it pulled the colour scheme together. And, in keeping with the white of the backsplash and countertops, it added to the openness of the space as soon as the valance was removed.

A Whirlpool, black stainless-steel kitchen suite provided continuity in this kitchen. I love to match cabinet colours and appliances whenever I can. By making your appliances blend into the colours of the kitchen gives the illusion of a larger space, because your eye doesn’t bounce to the contrast of the cabinets and appliances. Plus, the appliances are fingerprint resistant, which helps keep things looking sleek and fresh with minimal upkeep.

A counter-depth refrigerator made the space more open and accessible. On top of that, the French door option allowed for more clearance when the door was open, which made 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 to the cupboards, was more visually appealing. The microwave was tucked out of sight and utilized a wasted corner.

Having new appliances instantly updated the kitchen. The bells and whistles on these appliances are amazing, and so functional The refrigerator is one of my favourites. Its pantry-inspired layout, with an infinity slide shelf, which allows for extra room for tall items. The range has a touchscreen. It learns, adapts and suggests customized presets based on your family’s routine – perfect for my client and her family of four. Finally, the dishwasher has a third level rack space, so that they can make extra room for those hard-to-fit items and large kitchen utensils.

Wanting to maintain the visual continuity, I selected an under-mount sink. Coupled with a black faucet, the visual ascetics are modern and clean, and is in keeping with the colour scheme.

I removed the closed cabinets to modernize the look. By tiling that whole wall, and adding the natural wood tone of the shelving, it created an up-to-date, open look. We 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 in the colour, making the floor seem more purposeful. The addition of natural wood helped to ground the space and add an organic feel to the design.

While we were able to use the cupboards, the hardware had to go. The new brass handles were the perfect accents, along with a matching pendant light over the sink. I would have liked to include pendant lighting all around the kitchen, but the light locations didn’t align with the table.

An ultra-useful stand mixer in blue was perfect for this busy family, and I added accent pieces, including the dishware and a vase in a coordinating blue. Floor runners keep feet warm on cool days, add softness to a space, and can tie in colours. It’s important to buy ones that are machine washable.

This basic kitchen has been transformed into one that suits the family’s modern lifestyle. It’s great that we didn’t have to scrap the old cupboards, and could give them a new lease on life. Don’t be too quick to replace items. Sometimes a strategic update is the better way – and it can save a bundle.

36-inch Wide Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator – 24 cu. ft.

5.8 cu. ft. Smart Front Control Gas Range with EZ-2-Lift™ Hinged Cast-Iron Grates

Stainless Steel Tub Dishwasher with Third Level Rack

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.


Featured Products

CHBA Connects: Judgement Day

Judgement day – five tips for a great renovation award entry

Latest News

Judgement day – five tips for a great renovation award entry

Winning an award can set your company apart from the competition. In addition to the marketing opportunity that all smart businesses capitalize on, it shows potential customers that not only does your work look great, it’s got the stamp of approval from others in the industry. Receiving accolades adds an additional layer of credibility and confidence, and gives homeowners one more reason to trust doing business with you.

Award season for many competitions is in the fall and winter months. While most competitions have their own eligibility requirements and entry questions, there are universal tips for preparing a solid entry and increasing your chances of impressing judges. We’ve compiled the top five tips for creating a great award entry.

1. Choose a standout project

This doesn’t always mean the most impressive-looking project, or the most expensive project. Keep in mind that judges are often your peers. How would you assess an entry? In competitions where all the product is beautifully designed and executed, you need to tell the judges why yours stands out. What makes your entry unique, creative, or exemplary? What challenges did you overcome? Perhaps you had zoning restrictions or budget constraints that required outside-of-the-box solutions. Maybe the homeowners had unusual needs or unrealistic expectations. Once you’ve selected a project, focus on communicating why it’s a winner when you answer the entry questions. Make sure you elaborate on the thinking behind your project and express to the judges why it stands out. Doing so will ensure your entry isn’t just another gorgeous renovation – it will make the effort and skill behind it stand out from the others.

The uniqueness of this custom cat litter privacy chamber was a hit with judges. Marvel Pro Contracting & Renovations Ltd., Kelowna, B.C. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category "Bathroom."
The uniqueness of this custom cat litter privacy chamber was a hit with judges. Marvel Pro Contracting & Renovations Ltd., Kelowna, B.C. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Bathroom.”

2. Photography matters… a lot

For many competitions, judges will not have the opportunity to see projects in person. This means the photos you submit are their only way to visually assess the space. It’s very difficult for judges to see beyond poor photography and imagine what the space truly looks like. Arranging for a professional photographer to take images of your work should be part of your construction workflow. If you’re not already, you should be using quality images for your portfolio, your website, and social media marketing. What makes for “good” photos? The space should appear bright and welcoming, with natural light flooding in. The image exposure should be high enough that you can see the details in your work. If you want to showcase accent lighting, let your photographer know; he or she may suggest shooting closer to dusk when they can capture interior lighting and natural light at the same time. Make sure to include wide shots to give judges an idea of what the space looks like as a whole. Conversely, get some close-up images of fine detail work and craftsmanship that you want to highlight. Your photographer should deliver images that are in focus and true to colour. To really help judges (and potential customers) understand how the space is used, it should be staged as though the house was for sale; minimize distracting elements (remove clutter, knick-knacks, and personal portraits) and take a less-is-more approach to design. Consider adding welcoming touches like fresh fruit in the kitchen or flowers in the entryway.

Plenty of natural light makes the home bright and welcoming. Granite Homes, Fergus, Ont. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category "Kitchen – under $70,000."
Plenty of natural light makes the home bright and welcoming. Granite Homes, Fergus, Ont. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Kitchen – under $70,000.”

3. Include before and after pictures from the same angle

The most impressive aspect of home renovations is the transformation. Judges want to know the true scope of the project, and they need “before” pictures of what the space previously looked like so they can appreciate how much work was done on the design, layout, construction, and finishing. Before images should show as much of the space at one time as possible so judges can see in a glance what the room looked like. Almost as important as before pictures is having an after photo from the same angle. When the transformation is easy to see, your entry becomes more competitive. This is especially important if interior walls were removed, windows were relocated, or room layouts changed (kitchen appliances moving or a fireplace switching walls). It’s easy for judges to get disoriented, even when consulting floor plans. Make it easy for them. Before images don’t need to be taken professionally, but prior to starting on a project you should take images from all angles. Later, your professional photographer will have the flexibility to capture an after image of the best angle for the new space, and you’ll have a before picture that matches.

Interior image featuring lighting, taken at dusk. West Ridge Fine Homes Ltd., Calgary, Alta. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category "Whole House – $500,000 to $1 million."
Interior image featuring lighting, taken at dusk. West Ridge Fine Homes Ltd., Calgary, Alta. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Whole House – $500,000 to $1 million.”

4. Be clear and concise

In addition to supplying images and floor plans, most award programs will require a written component to entries. Whether you need to answer specific questions or you have a big block of space to write freeform, be aware of the language you use. Make sure you are clear and concise. Use point form if you can, but don’t be so frugal with words that sentences are hard to read. Don’t repeat content from question to question – that’s a red flag for judges who will feel your entry isn’t interesting enough to come up with more varied responses. If you can, find out what level of expertise the judges will have. If the judges are renovators, for example, you can use a fair bit of industry terminology and they’ll understand. On the other hand, if you’re entering a category that’s getting judged by the public, you’ll likely want to explain things in layman’s terms. No matter who you’re writing for, remember that judges often have a lot of entries to get through. Discuss your most important points first, write clearly, and concisely express why your entry is a standout project. Before submitting, make sure someone else proofreads your work. And if the idea of writing up an entry is overwhelming enough not to enter, consider hiring someone to take over the task. There are professionals who specialize in preparing award entries for renovators and builders.

Before and After pictures from the same angle illustrate the transformation.

Interior image featuring lighting, taken at dusk. West Ridge Fine Homes Ltd., Calgary, Alta. The 2019 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence winner for the renovation category “Whole House – $500,000 to $1 million.”

5. Give yourself time

This tip is as basic as they come, but it’s worthy of being on the list. Putting together an entry at the last minute is not only very stressful, but puts you at risk of not successfully communicating to the judges why your project is award worthy. Give yourself plenty of cushion time. Fully read the award requirements, judging criteria, and questions well in advance of the deadline. This will give you time to assemble all the elements you need. Be aware that many competitions require a specific homeowner permission form to be filled out, and that it may take some time to have your customer sign off. Familiarize yourself with the award entry method, whether it’s online software or paper forms. Make sure you have all of the required documents and images; you don’t want to be disqualified for missing information. Give yourself time to put thought into how you answer questions, touching on the elements that make the project stand out. And finally, don’t wait until the final minutes to submit an entry or count on an extension, or you may just be out of luck.

Maximize your chances of winning by following all of these tips. You’ll have a great entry, and likely more marketing material for promoting your business, win or lose. And finally, if you are recognized as a top project, make sure to make the most of it! Provide your local media sources with great images and a ready-made story. Use the opportunity to connect with your customers and your community – introduce them to the team that was behind the project, let them in on added details about the home, or tell them why your company is passionate about doing such quality work. Winning an award can be a great motivator for your team, and an excellent marketing tool. So get out there and enter!

NATASHA ROMBOUGH, CHBA’S Director of Marketing and Communications



Featured Products


Designer Touch: Cooking With Character

Latest News

Designer Touch: Cooking With Character

By Rebecca Hay • Photography By Stephani Buchman

A blend of traditional, contemporary and vintage touches, create a personality-packed kitchen

Nothing beats a good kitchen renovation. Especially one that transforms the way you use your home. This personality packed kitchen makes a statement and yet provides much needed functionality for a young family.

When we were approached to renovate and design the main floor of this Riverdale family home in Toronto’s East end, the couple was pregnant with their second child. This resulted in a tight timeline to make a major transformation. The family had lived in the home for three years before they decided to make some big changes, and knew exactly what they wanted as a result. A growing young family, with no plans to move in the near future, they needed an updated space and an open-concept kitchen for cooking and entertaining.


The home is a semi-detached Victorian with great historic features and good bones. Its ’90s-style kitchen had crumbling maple cabinets, terracota floors and oodles of wasted space. It even featured a terracotta-tiled countertop! The busy couple wanted a more functional, open-concept kitchen, suitable for raising their children and entertaining friends. Space planning was key to creating a functional layout. By tearing down the wall between the kitchen and dining area, we were able to create the large open space that the family desired. After assessing all our layout options, we decided on a peninsula versus an island. This created a U-shaped kitchen where the cook of the family (in this case, the husband) could slave away without interference by dinner guests… or little feet!


The current pantry was previously a lonely, empty wall with nothing but a small table leaning up against it and a pile of shoes. During construction we discovered there was space between the exterior wall and interior framing, so we moved some ductwork and gained almost a foot of extra space. This allowed us to make the kitchen bigger and provided space for the custom pantry with lots of storage. The full-height cabinets house a broom closet, pull-out shelves, cupboards for small appliances, and a nook for coats and shoes. Since the family has laneway parking and generally enters the house through the back door, the mini-mudroom was a must.


In addition to being extremely functional, we wanted the space to make a statement, while still being consistent with the character of the home. We chose a mix of traditional and contemporary elements, vintage touches and pops of colour to create an inviting and unique space. The rich blue cabinetry adds colour and depth, while the mosaic marble backsplash adds luxurious texture and interest. It also hides any water splatters or mess. The marble ties in seamlessly with the sleek white quartz countertops and Silgranit white sink. Hits of yellow and brass establish the fun and polished esthetic.

Vintage details help this new kitchen blend effortlessly into its surroundings. The school housestyle pendants and handmade wood shelves add an old-world feel. While the detailing on the walnut stools also has a trendy yet timeless appeal. The shelves and bench were handmade by the homeowner’s mother, and are a perfect personal touch.


Pops of yellow make a bold statement against the blue cabinets. The Roman shade adds colour and texture, and complements the custom yellow leather stools. A lot of time was spent searching for the perfect counter stools. The original design had wooden stools that we ordered and ended up returning because they didn’t make the right statement. Sometimes you have to be fluid with design and recognize when something just isn’t quite right. When we couldn’t find the perfect stool, I decided to design a custom one. They ended up being the showstoppers and the proverbial icing on the cake. The stools tie all the design elements together.

The end result is a personality-packed kitchen full of all the modern amenities and conveniences of modern family life.


DESIGN, Rebecca Hay Designs, rebeccahaydesigns.com CONTRACTING, TriMatrix Construction WALL PAINT Benjamin Moore 2125-60 Marilyn’s Dress CABINETRY PAINT, HC-155 Newburyport Blue & CC-40 Cloud White COUNTERTOPS, Caesarstone Canada BACKSPLASH TILES, Marble Granite Depot REFRIGERATOR, Oven, Range, Jenn-Air DISHWASHER, Whirlpool FAUCET, Delta STOOL FABRIC, Designer Fabrics CUSTOM STOOLS, Rebecca Hay Designs ROMAN SHADE, Tonic Living PENDANT LIGHTS, The Door Store CABINETRY HARDWARE, Upper Canada Specialty Hardware

Designer Rebecca Hay, Principal Designer of Rebecca Hay Designs Inc., is a Toronto-based boutique design firm offering complete design & renovation services for residential, commercial and vacation properties for over a decade. Known and celebrated for her design work and appearances on various acclaimed HGTV shows, Rebecca and her team design classic, livable spaces that reflect the homeowner’s personality. Servicing clientele throughout Toronto, the GTA and Canada. rebeccahaydesigns.com


Featured Products


Kitchen Planner

Latest News

Kitchen Planner

The faucet and sink are the focal point in the hardest working room in any home

The kitchen is the hub of any home, and the sink and faucet are probably the hardest working components in any kitchen. By focusing on those two interrelated components you can generate a lot of business working with clients ranging from budget-conscious, small-space dwellers, to affluent homeowners looking to create the luxurious kitchen of their dreams.

Tight spaces and tight budgets

Many homeowners are looking for a low-budget spruce up, either to refresh a dated but otherwise functional look, or to maximize resale value when putting their home on the market. A new sink and faucet is an affordable upgrade that doesn’t require any structural changes.


The reality for many is that condos have become the de facto “starter home.” Condo-sized kitchens required condo-sized thinking. The Prolific sink was designed with small spaces specifically in mind. The 33” x 17¾” basin comes with five accessories, including a bamboo cutting board and a dishwasher-safe colander, all of which you can store right in the sink basin when not in use.

Expansive upgrades

If space isn’t an issue, clients will appreciate a large double-basin sink that makes washing and rinsing easy. Kohler’s Whitehaven under-mount sink has a classic farmhouse style apron front that overlaps existing cabinetry. The 24”- to 36”-wide sinks have large- and medium-sized basins, separated by a low divider. Each is available in 16 different colours, from white to “Black Black,” and the durable enamelled cast-iron finish will last the lifetime of the kitchen.


Other upgrades clients might want to consider include a counter- or wall-mounted pot-filler faucet by the stove, a filtered-water faucet for drinking, and built-in soap dispensers that match the look of the faucet they’ve chosen.

Regardless of kitchen size, homeowners have a plethora of options to choose from. Sinks are available in enamelled cast-iron, stainless steel, and even composite materials, such as the Cairn, made of Kohler Neoroc. For faucets and other fixtures, the range of options expands to include brushed nickel and bronze.

Logistical planning

Large or small, you’ll want to plan the kitchen to maximize space while minimizing wasted effort. Designers often refer to the “work triangle” layout when planning kitchens, with the refrigerator, cooktop, and sink at the three points of the triangle. There are a few “rules” that come with this concept, including that no object – such as a cabinet – should block movement between the three points, household traffic should not flow through the triangle, and no point should be more than nine feet from any other.


With open-concept designs, owners often picture having their sink – or a secondary one – built into an island. This typically means running additional water and drainage lines. Before committing to a particular design, you’ll want to make sure there’s space to run the lines through the joists, and that you have sufficient slope to the stack to ensure proper drainage.

Visual cues

Even with 3D animations, many clients often find it difficult to visualize how all the components of a project will come together in their renovated space. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but actually being able to see and touch the fixtures before installation can save a lifetime of disappointment with an errant purchase.

Earlier this year, the first Canadian KOHLER Signature Store opened in Vancouver. The 5,000-sq.ft. space features dozens of different kitchen and bath displays and a wall-mounted display of faucets, with many of the fixtures fully functioning. It’s open to the public seven days a week, so you can send your clients to see their options firsthand, at their convenience, prior to making their final decision. (For more information on the KOHLER Signature Store, see the June/July 2017 issue of Renovation Contractor.) Elsewhere, the company has also partnered with dozens of specialty retailers across the country that have Kohler-focussed displays.

Big budget or small, Kohler’s range of kitchen sinks and fixtures can help you fulfill any client’s needs.


Featured Products


9 Storage Ideas For Your Kitchen

Latest News

9 Storage Ideas For Your Kitchen

To keep your kitchen well-organized and clean, you need to think outside the box when it comes to storage. From pull-out drawers to open shelves and pantry-style cabinets there are endless storage options. We’ll give you some great ideas we’ve applied in the numerous kitchen renovations carried out to help you store your kitchen accessories, food cans, boxes and all those items that can easily fill up the countertops and make the place a big mess.

1. Custom Kitchen Pantry

Today’s kitchens are built with a neatly organized custom pantry. The pantry provides adequate space to store almost any item. It can be designed with different types of shelves and drawers for better organization and easy access. The main advantage of a custom pantry is that it can be used to store everything in one place. What’s more? When you store your items in one place, you’ll avoid buying items you already have. However, pantries are mostly ideal in spacious kitchens.



2. Corner Drawer With Organizer

Having a corner cupboard drawer with an organizer is an ingenious way to turn those awkward corners in your space into functional storage. Corner drawers are actually deeper than the usual drawers so you can store more items in them. Avoid the hassle of having to crawl on your hands to reach items in a corner cabinet by getting fully accessible corner drawers. Though angled, corner drawers can create additional storage space which pull out to reveal well organized drawers especially when installed at the bottom of the sink.



3. Utensil drawer

Want to keep your cutlery in close reach for the shorter members of your family? Consider installing a utensil drawer. These deep drawers can hold those plates and cups, well organized and safely just below the countertop. Utensil drawers are also great for keeping your tools and accessories neatly organized and accessible. You can use the drawers to keep your silverware and serve ware conveniently in the kitchen. They are an ideal space saver in many small kitchens.


4. Slide-Our Trash Cans

Are unattractive bins and trash cans taking away the kitchen’s beauty? Keep them out of sight with a pullout trash can drawer. This kind of drawer will also free up some floor space, help you to maintain good hygiene and keep the nasty smell at bay.


5. Baking Sheet Drawers (Cookie Sheet Drawers)

It’s easy for those baking sheets to pile in your space. What if you had a specially dedicated drawer for your muffin tins, broiler pans and cooking sheets? A baking sheet drawer is all you need to keep all these items nicely organized in your space. If you don’t have any additional space for a new cabinet, choose one existing drawer and just add some metal or wood dividers to neatly keep away your baking sheets.


6. Spices Drawers

Your spice collection shouldn’t result in clutter on the countertop. You need a special pull-out spice rack to ensure these items are nicely stored and easily accessible. Pull-out spice racks are very ideal on the upper cabinets. The drawer can be customized to suit your unique needs. If you are someone who cooks often, you can dedicate a single cabinet for the spice pullout rack. It can even be partitioned nicely using metal dividers.


7. Built-In Appliances

You can have uniquely designed kitchen cabinets to fit specific items in your kitchen. Whether it’s the dishwasher, fridge or any other appliance that you’d like to fit in a kitchen, you may request a contractor to design a unique space for it. Built in appliance can help you to save on floor space.


8. Open Shelves

One kitchen storage design that will never go out of style is the open shelves. Open shelves are perfect even for smaller spaces because they help to make the room airy and open up the space. You can use the open shelves to store your antique utensils, decorative accessories or even dishes that are used daily. They are cost-effective to install and maintain too. Just make sure you choose a design that goes well with your cabinets and drawers.


9. Pullout Shelves

Pullout shelves can be used to store anything and everything in the kitchen space. From the frequently used pots and pans to kitchen accessories, kitchenware and food items, pullout shelves are very functional. They are very ideal if you have deep kitchen cabinets and you’d like to make it easy to reach items at the back corners. The shelves can have trays that slide in different directions to allow you to access different items at a time.

To narrow down the kitchen storage options that would work for you, first consider the storage challenges that you need to resolve. Whether you need to reorganize your pantry or add more drawers, shelves and cabinets, the ideas above should give you some inspiration.


Featured Products

Reno Expert: Senior-Friendly Kitchen Design

Reno Expert: Senior-Friendly Kitchen Design

Latest News

Reno Expert: Senior-Friendly Kitchen Design

by Jim Caruk

Kitchen updates that will prove beneficial into the golden years

There’s been a lot of talk in the renovation business recently about the “aging in place” movement. The idea behind it is a simple one. As people get older, increasingly they’re hoping to continue to live in the house they raised their families in, rather than getting shunted off to a seniors’ home.

In order for us (or our parents) to function on our own, we need to be able to feed ourselves. In this column I look at some of the key features to consider when renovating a kitchen to make it senior-friendly. I also cover exterior projects geared to the aging-in-place movement that will ensure safety for this age group.


I’ve written before about the three different kinds of lighting: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting illuminates the whole room, task lighting focuses on a specific area, and accent lighting is used to highlight a particular feature, such as a piece of art. When designing a kitchen for people who have some degree of impaired vision, ambient and task lighting are extremely important.

Contrasting colours are also an important way to help those with failing eyesight. Those all-white walls may be trendy for the younger folks, but white light switches and electrical outlets stand out against darker colours.


If you don’t have the space on your lot to build a code-compliant entrance ramp, an exterior platform lift is a good alternative.

Photography courtesy of Cambridge Elevating



Getting access to countertop work surfaces and upper cabinets can often be an issue for the elderly, particularly for those using a wheelchair. If you’ve got the budget for it, there are mechanical systems that raise and lower cabinets and countertops with the push of a button. You can also install the counters at 30″— rather than the standard 36″—for wheelchair access, and leave openings below the counter wide enough for the chair to slide into. Even if you don’t need to use a wheelchair, it’s a good idea to consider having at least one work surface installed at a height you can work from while seated.

Again, keep contrasting colours in mind to help avoid accidents. If the cabinets are white, a dark coloured counter will stand out, and vice versa.


Kitchen faucets with dual knobs to control the hot and cold water can be hard to use for people with arthritis. Replace those with lever handles that are much easier to operate. Better yet, many manufacturers now have stylish, reasonably priced motion-sensitive faucets for use in the home.

Rather than installing the faucet at the back of the sink, where it can be hard to reach—and inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair—consider mounting it at the side.

Finally rather than small knobs you have to clasp to open cabinets and drawers, use wide loop-style handles that someone can slip their whole hand into.

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


Featured Products