Tag Archives: kitchen

Home Finds - Apr/May2021

Make your kitchen your favourite room with these home finds!

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Make your kitchen your favourite room with these home finds!

A kitchen reno is no small task. But like a lot of things in life that are hard, the reward is worth it! The details are what can really elevate the design. So, take your time and choose elements that will help make your kitchen your favourite room in the house.


The Whitelight collection is the latest array of quartz countertops from Caesarstone. The collection is all about light, neutral colours that enhance the movement and drama of natural stone.

5171 ARBETTO. caesarstone.ca

Cook with care

Caraway’s ceramic cookware not only looks cool, it’s also nontoxic, eco-friendly and naturally non-stick. This well-designed set will be your go-to for all your cooking needs.

CERAMIC COOKWARE SET in navy by Caraway. $575. indigo.ca

Organic dinnerware

We love this handcrafted, organic stoneware dinner collection from Oui. Modern, durable and stylish – it’s perfect for everyday use.

$12-$60. indigo.ca

Colourful small appliances

While stainless steel kitchen accents continue to dominate, colourful small appliances are quietly making a comeback. We adore this retro-inspired light green collection by Haden – guaranteed to add a unique look.

Silt green Dorchester TOASTER, DRIP COFFEE MAKER AND KETTLE by Haden. $150-$180. crateandbarrel.ca

Bold backsplash

Create a statement wall in your kitchen by backsplash.

Tofino TERRAZZO cement tile. Spoons SQUARE cement tile. Peak line HEXAGON choosing bold tiles for your cement tile. From $9. geontile.com

Indigo cutlery

Trade your traditional silver cutlery set for one with a punch of colour. Our top pick? This cool indigo shade guaranteed to kick up your tablescape.

Glamour 5-piece STAINLESS STEEL FLATWARE SET. $92. wayfair.ca

A winning faucet

Select a faucet that not only matches your kitchen’s aesthetic, but also has the functionality you need. Whether your preference is bronze, silver or gold, the faucet is one of the most used items in the kitchen, so, choose wisely!

BRONZE: Arbour oil rubbed bronze one-handle high arc MOTIONSENSE PULLDOWN KITCHEN FAUCET. $618. moen.ca

SILVER: Purist SINGLEHOLE KITCHEN SINK FAUCET with pullout spout and ProMotion by Kohler. $633. wayfair.ca

GOLD: Satin gold PULLDOWN KITCHEN FAUCET. $239. bathdepot.ca

Style file

Cabinets and hardware to inspire a kitchen update.

TRADITIONAL: FLORENCE DOOR in white matte thermofoil by Eurostyle. $62. homedepot.ca Weston collection brushed gold contemporary CABINET KNOB by Richelieu. $5. homedepot.ca

ECLECTIC: BODARP DOOR in grey green. $50. ikea.ca. GREEN AGATE KNOB. $30. cb2.ca

MID-CENTURY MODERN: HASSLARP DOOR. $88. ikea.ca. Demi half-moon brass and black marble knob. $14. cb2.ca

Table talk

Do you have an eat-in kitchen? A sustainably sourced wooden table adds a beautiful natural element to the space with lower impact to the environment.

1. Whitestone OVAL LARGE DINING TABLE. $3,429. westofmain.com

2. Mid-century EXPANDABLE DINING TABLE in walnut. $1,049-$1,349. westelm.ca

3. Griffin reclaimed WOOD DINING TABLE. $2,940. potterybarn.ca

Kitchen clean-up

Libman, maker of thoughtfully designed and environmentally conscious cleaning tools, celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. Marking the milestone, fourth-generation CEO, Andrew Libman, shares his three favourite finds for embracing the mess and keeping kitchens clean:

1. KITCHEN BRUSH: Scrubbing everything from pots and pans to root vegetables, it’s the most versatile kitchen tool, hands down.

2. PRECISION ANGLE BROOM & DUSTPAN: With bristles made from recycled water bottles, flagged tips ensure the tiniest of food waste is picked up the first time.

3. FREEDOM SPRAY MOP: This handy mop with its reusable microfibre pad is ideal for sudden spills requiring swift action. Plus, the refillable tank empowers you to use your preferred cleaning solution. libman.com

Warm modern

This gorgeous kitchen combines so many modern design elements that will be popular in 2021. From streamlined design to mixed metals, interesting stone and tile work, warm wood details and a touch of black – it’s a perfect mod mix.


Interior design: MICHAEL GODMER

Designer tiles: Custom-made stone mosaic designed by CIOT STUDIO artisans.

Counter, backsplash and island in Maxfine porcelain. ciot.com

The organized pantry

We all aspire to have the kind of organized pantry that would make Jamie Oliver proud. These items will help get you started on the right track.

1. Yamazaki tosca slim white STORAGE BASKET. $49. crateandbarrel.ca

2. Modular GLASS CANISTERS by Marie Kondo. $16-$25. containerstore.com

3. WIre STORAGE BASKET. $25. homesense.ca

4. Progressive prokeeper CEREAL CONTAINER. $30. crateandbarrel.ca


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Top 10 - Small Appliances

Small appliances

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Small appliances

The coolest gear to elevate your kitchen experience.

Dolce & Gabbana slow JUICER by Smeg.

$1,900. thebay.com

The Bambino Plus ESPRESSO MACHINE in damson blue.

$550. breville.ca

A3500 ascent series BLENDER in candy apple red.

$800. vitamix.ca

Vortex plus 6-QT stainless steel AIR FRYER by Instant.

$180. amazon.ca

Professional plus FOOD PROCESSOR in silver by Ninja.

$150. canadiantire.ca


$80. bodum.com

Drip 14-cup programable COFFEE MAKER by CRUXGG.

$145. williams-sonoma.ca

The custom loaf BREAD MAKER.

$400. breville.ca

Artisan series 5 qt. tilt STAND MIXER in honey.

$700. kitchenaid.ca

Gourmet 4SLICE TOASTER by Wolf.

$540. williams-sonoma.ca


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Kitchen prep

Kitchen prep

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Kitchen prep

Photos by Chris Harrison

Are you planning a kitchen renovation once the pandemic protocols ease up? Renovating a kitchen can bring a lot of disruption to your life, but remember, the pros outweigh the cons. From enhancing functionality to increasing the value of your home, an updated kitchen is a worthy investment. With so many options out there, you may be wondering where to begin. Here are four suggestions to keep in mind.

The overview

The best place to start is with a clear budget. Having a specific budget will dictate how much money you can spend on the design, finishes and appliances. You can pay as little as $25,000 for kitchen cabinetry and as much as $80,000. A good rule of thumb is to set a budget in relation to your home’s value and ensure at least a 20-percent contingency for your unknowns and your must-haves. If the average Toronto home value is in the $1-million range, a newly renovated kitchen would cost between $40,000 and $60,000.

Sink with a view

Do we put the sink by the window or on the island? It’s a question I am asked a lot as a designer. Cleaning is often a tedious task. Since it’s always a chore and never a pleasure, make it into as much of a good experience as you can. It does not cost more to place your sink well, so consider it and do what works for you. If you put it at the window, a great feature at a small premium of about 10 per cent is to cover the windowsill in the countertop material instead of the standard wood casing. This allows you to forget about water splashes and offers a great base for small planting pots.

Hide those gadgets

Bakers and cooks alike love their mixers on the counter, and for a good reason. Many are sleek and beautiful and make for fantastic decor. Add to that, the coffee maker, toaster, grinder, juice maker, and soon enough, what you end up with is a small appliance store right there on your beautifully renovated kitchen counter. One way to avoid this scenario is to put in an appliance garage – one that looks sleek and is completely integrated with your kitchen. And guess what? It costs very little because the only add-on is the door. Inside, extend the counter to avoid unpleasant splash accidents and make sure your electrical plugs, if any, are all to code.

Team prep area

We often think of meal prep as an individual activity or as areas split up per task, per person. While this works well in a restaurant, home kitchens should be more social. Kitchens are social spaces for everything else, why not meal prep? Historically speaking, we had this and lost it somewhere on the way. The Victorians had it figured out when the table in the middle was the only prep area. Nowadays, instead of placing everyone on the perimeter, you can group the people around the island. Sizing the island becomes crucial. An easy way is to take a standard table of seven-by-three ft. and make that the island size. You can go a little bigger, but really, you don’t have to. Team prep areas, for obvious reasons, can often double up as serving areas too.

Adriana Mot is a multiple award-winning designer and founder of Dochia Interior Design in Toronto.

She is known for her practical creativity and a unique talent that builds refined and beautiful connections between people and their surroundings.

Contact her at 416.492.7451. info@dochia.com


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Advantages and disadvantages of kitchens versus kitchenettes

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Advantages and disadvantages of kitchens versus kitchenettes

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A kitchen is a part and parcel of a household. We’re all familiar with traditional kitchens. But a kitchenette? What’s that?

Putting it shortly, a kitchenette is a more modern and compact version of a kitchen. Composed of some of the most essential kitchen components, a kitchenette is a better option for compact apartments, studios and hotels.

In a kitchenette, you can usually fit in a stove, microwave, small fridge and small sink – ideal for small apartments, basement apartments, pool houses, hostel rooms and hotel rooms. You can check out some fantastic kitchenette ideas here.

Differences between a kitchen and kitchenette

Kitchens are more traditional and decorated. You can install various appliances and try out different setups. You’ll have the freedom of customization and ample space in a kitchen.

For people who are homely and love to cook food, a well-equipped kitchen can do wonders. But busy people will love kitchenettes as it’s highly functional and practical. So, it would be best if you think realistically about the layout while designing a kitchen or a kitchenette.

Whatever you choose – a kitchen or kitchenette – knowing the types, advantages and disadvantages will come in handy.


Kitchenette advantages and disadvantages

The word kitchenette first originated in the early 20th century. As kitchens were shrinking in small apartments, basements, offices and other compact places, a new term “kitchenette” took hold. And as lifestyles got busier, people started adopting the essential kitchen elements for easy maintenance and operation.

At first, the people of New York and Chicago used to build kitchenettes for their small apartments. But gradually, it became popular throughout the world.


Reduced floor space consumption

According to the NYC Building Codes, any kitchen with space less than 80 sq. ft. is to be denoted as a kitchenette. So, modern apartment kitchens having eight-by-eight ft., eight-by-six ft. or even 10-by-eight ft. floor dimensions are all kitchenettes.

Students who live in the hostels don’t have a lot of space. Kitchenettes should be able to free up some space. Also, office rooms, hotels, studio apartments can benefit from a smart kitchenette and save space.

In modern kitchenettes, sliding drawer dividers are used for hanging essential utensils. It helps to free up some space as well.

Easy to manage

Kitchenettes concentrate on functionality and utility. They opt to provide the minimum facilities of a kitchen by shrinking some bulky accommodations such as the sink, refrigerator and countertops. And in the process, they also simplify operation and maintenance.

Instead of the large gas burners or stoves, kitchenettes feature ovens and hot plates. They’re also easy to operate and clean as well. After every cooking session, you can expect a tidier kitchen environment.


Sometimes, refitting any regular kitchen area becomes very costly. The layout of a kitchenette, however, is much simpler. You can affordably change the layout and design of your kitchenette.

Moreover, kitchenettes feature fewer countertops and shelves, saving a lot on your furniture budget. The initial installation, customization and maintenance cost far less than a regular kitchen.

However, they’re not as customizable as a regular kitchen, so they often lack creativity.


Lacking space and utilities

Clearly, the main drawback of using a kitchenette, is a lack of space to keep many utensils, items, and appliances inside your kitchen. Therefore, preparing a variety of meals may prove difficult. Also, with the limited cooking facilities, you may find it hard to cook for many people at once. So, if you often host a house party, a kitchenette is not for you.

We use a lot of kitchen appliances these days. Blender, grinder, cutter, peeler, brewer, a beater… And in a kitchenette, you can install only so many of these.

Storage issue

Without a good number of shelves and counters, it’s difficult to store and arrange everyday consumables. Stocking up on goods can be difficult with a kitchenette.

You may also face challenges while setting up the kitchen stove. It would be best if you can manage the quartz countertop in such a way that your guest can use the furnace comfortably and sit while eating.

Lacks customizability and creativity

Kitchenettes are rarely customizable. They are already compact, to begin with. So, swapping components freely won’t be an option. And since there aren’t that many features, you may find a kitchenette dull and static.



Most of us use the traditional kitchen. The kitchen size depends on how big your house is. On average, a residential kitchen takes up about 10 to 15 per cent of the floor area. In a 1,000-sq.-ft. floorplan, for example, the kitchen should take up about 100 to 150 sq. ft. In some apartments, the kitchen room is attached to the dining or living room.


Spacious area

The average kitchen size is 240 to 360 sq. ft. – visibly spacious compared to the kitchenette. The kitchen is ideal for people who love to cook and host parties.

You can keep all of your necessary equipment, tools and appliances on the countertop, cabinet and racks. You can customize your kitchen with several drawers and cupboards as well. Besides, most kitchens come with an additional storage room to provide extra storage facilities.

Hosting a lot of guests

The kitchen is always convenient for a large family. You can set up several stoves and prepare multiple items at the same time. Ideal for hosting a lot of guests and throwing house parties.


A kitchen features a lot of components. That means you can rearrange and customize the kitchen as you like. Add a new shelf or a countertop, maybe add a dishwasher on the side. You can pretty much do anything with a well-equipped kitchen.


Difficult to manage

The more spacious your kitchen is, the more difficult it is to manage. It’s tiring work without a doubt. Bigger kitchens tend to get messy after every cooking session. So, cleaning the utensils, equipment and appliances will sap out a lot of your energy.


Redecorating or refitting common kitchen areas is very costly. If you want to give your kitchen a classy layout, you can’t chicken out on the budget.

To sum it all up, traditional kitchens are more complete and offer a better cooking experience. Ideal for moderate to large families and cooking enthusiasts, but for speedy corporate lifestyles or budget apartments, kitchenettes prove to be a better option.


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Cool and colourful

Cool and colourful cooking space

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Cool and colourful cooking space

Photography by Heather Dunbar Photography

Designing a modern kitchen for this busy family was truly a joy. But, with every project, there are also design hurdles to overcome. Since the main floor flowed from the kitchen into the living and dining rooms, achieving the right flow was key. I never view a challenge as a pain point, but rather an opportunity to create something truly unique and reflective of our homeowner’s combined tastes.

The starting point came when the homeowners agreed to have their upper cabinets painted in a vibrant hue, Benjamin Moore’s Fair Isle Blue. From there, it was just a balancing act of transitioning one design element to the next. I chose darker walnut-stained lowers cabinets that would stand up to the vibrant upper cabinets. A subtle off-white and veined backsplash and countertop paid homage to the white colour applied to the walls. Playing off the bold upper cabinets, we added richness and playfulness by incorporating warm and confident brasses and golds within the lighting choices.

A key component in pulling the room together was finding moments where I could add a natural fluidity. This was especially effective with the pendant lights and their subtle ombre fade from brass, silver to clear. Having a strong metallic accent with this finish added depth and softness to the room’s overall palette, balancing polish with organic elements. This principle of harmonious dichotomies is one of my design philosophies.

The open concept dining room directly adjacent to the kitchen required flexibility between both formal and casual settings, with three rambunctious girls in the household. Starting with a matching bold and brass light fixture, I added a beautiful English brown-stained white oak dining table with clean and natural lines. Mixing the table with mid-century modern inspired leather dining chairs hit the perfect amount of tempered luxury. Adding a matching bench on the opposite side of the table allowed us to emphasize the space without creating a break in the flow.

Lastly, adding an oversized area rug underneath the dining area helped define the space while also echoing the kitchen cabinets’ familiar blue and teal accents.

From the project’s inception, we knew the kitchen would be the home’s natural focal point with its confident hues and bold accent metals. By choosing slightly lower height furniture pieces throughout the space, this seamlessly leads the eye back towards the kitchen from every vantage point of the floor.

Before you fully commit to making significant changes to your kitchen (whether it be bold and dynamic or subtle and modest), make sure to explore the depths of your own palette and understand its flavours. Because ultimately, with design being so subjective, there isn’t a right or wrong. It’s just a question of personal taste and, of course, balance.


Countertop + Backsplash by Baystone Quartz

Hardware by Richelieu Hardware

Faucets from Delta Trinsic

Barn Door from Urban Woodcraft

Upper Cabinet in Fair Isle Blue (CSP-715), walls in Silver Satin (OC-26), trim in Chantilly Lace (OC-65) by Benjamin Moore

Kitchen Pendant lights and dining room pendant lights from West Elm

Dining Table from Pottery Barn

Dining Chairs, Bench and living room sofa by from Crate & Barrel

Carpet by Brayden Studio

Counter Stools by George Oliver

Floor Lamp by Williston Forge

Designer Louis Duncan-He is Creative Director and Principal of Louis Duncan-He Designs. This Calgary- and Montreal-based boutique design firm offers complete residential design services throughout Canada. With a distinct timeless perspective, it creates unified authentic designs. @louis.dhe


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Product Showcase: Beyond Marble and Granite

Product showcase – new and noteworthy

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Product showcase – new and noteworthy

The ultimate matte black accent

Discover amazing new design opportunities with the ultimate matte-black accent for your kitchen. Introducing the Vintera 30, by Blanco – a contemporary farmhouse sink in the company’s latest Silgranit colour, coal black, featuring a slim 6.5-in. apron, generous nine-in. bowl depth, and flushmount installation option. The Vintera is both spacious and sleek. Its flat matte-black colour and smooth silk-matte feel is perfect for those who love bold, contemporary design.




The most successful automatic coffee machine in Jura’s history – now easier to use, with an even greater variety of specialities and a more sophisticated design. Buttons on the front of the machine and a modern TFT display make operation incredibly simple. And the integrated maintenance programs and new interchangeable milk spout ensure maximum hygiene.



Renovator’s dream shop

Beyond Marble and Granite is committed to finding the ideal kitchen or bath design to suit your budget and lifestyle. Offering a wide selection of quartz and granite countertops, BMG also has a wide selection of mosaics and backsplashes, porcelain tile, faucets, sinks, and more. The team at BMG believes that every project deserves to be a masterpiece, whether big or small. Installing quartz or granite countertops adds value and beauty to any room in your home, office or cottage. Visit the Vaughan showroom for all your renovation needs!



Custom cabinetry

JH Kitchen is a family-owned business that has been operating for almost 10 years. Their team of experts specialize in custom cabinetry and design, and work with you to meet your every need. From the initial stages of consultation to home visits, follow-ups, and installation, the company is dedicated to working with each and every client to achieve exactly what they envision to be their dream kitchen. JH Kitchen offers the highest quality, with a diverse selection of designs, at the best price. The primary goal is to ensure every customer’s complete satisfaction.




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Designer Jo Alcorn updates a small kitchen with some big ideas

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Designer Jo Alcorn updates a small kitchen with some big ideas

Small spaces are always a design challenge. In my recent tiny kitchen refresh, I was tasked with creating a functional and efficient cooking space for a busy family who loves to cook and entertain, without sacrificing style. Here’s how I did it!


The space already had relatively newer countertops that my clients wanted to salvage – this translates into massive savings! The existing countertops were black with flecks of greys, browns and taupe – it served as our starting point in the design process.

The engine of the kitchen

The appliances are the main engine of any kitchen, so choosing the right style, colour and functionality is key. For this space, I needed to play off the black countertops; this naturally led me to a Whirlpool black stainless-steel suite. Knowing how vital cooking is for this family, I wanted to give them appliances that had practical technology but didn’t compromise on design. Whirlpool’s fingerprint-resistant finishes hide fingerprints and smudges, and easily wipes clean, which is crucial for busy young families.

Chilling and grilling

I love the cool features that Whirlpool appliances now offer to help ease regular household chores and duties. Their new slide-in electric range has a “control from anywhere” feature that allows you to multitask with the Whirlpool app. Busy bathing the kids but need to preheat the oven or slow down cooking? Start it remotely or adjust the temperature with the keep warm technology from anywhere with a smartphone or tablet so it’s ready when you are. In a small space, I love to introduce a refrigerator with French doors. The dual-opening, side by side doors allow you to open the fridge without blocking the entire area. And this French Door Refrigerator’s features are amazing – everything from tuck away shelving, spill-proof shelves, and adjustable door bins. All these features make life for a family easier.

Clean-up crew

With a growing family, a full-size dishwasher is non-negotiable. My clients had an apartment sized dishwasher before this refresh. While the inclusion of a full-sized dishwasher did mean giving up some cabinet space, it was well worth it, especially for the one-hour wash cycle. And I was able to compensate for lost storage space with taller upper cabinets and the addition of a pantry next to the fridge, addressing one of the family’s biggest concerns – not enough storage space!

Cabinets cost

A significant cost in a kitchen renovation is cabinets. In this case, some of the cabinets were in good shape, so I decided to keep the lower cabinets as they were to create a trendy wood colour palette for a two-toned kitchen look. All I had to do was update them with new hardware. While I kept the lowers, I opted for replacing the upper cabinets. The uppers were replaced with a hardware-free, glossy white, flat front style. The gloss on these allows the light to bounce off them, creating the illusion of a larger space. Choosing to go without hardware kept the lines clean and simple, allowing the eye to travel over them.

Colour continuity

A little paint can go a long way to transform a room, and it’s very cost-efficient. This house is open concept, so we had to paint the entire main floor for a better visual flow. It was a pretty extensive paint job, including the kitchen, dining room and the entire first floor! A new coat of paint helped the whole space to have a fresh, clean look. Especially since we brought in white stark gloss cabinets, I wanted the walls to blend in.

A splash of colour

Another key to a sophisticated kitchen and an element that can make a huge design impact is tile. For this space, I went with a funky glass pattern backsplash from The Good Tile. My clients love to cook, so these tiles were perfect as there is no grout needed for installing, making them easier to clean. The glass retro backsplash is a genuine wow factor that draws your eye in creating more depth in this small space with another reflective material for more light to bounce off.

Let’s eat

In the dining space, I created a gorgeous picture wall with some of the clients’ favourite pieces of art. An antique sideboard was a perfect complement to the clients’ retro style. And, an ideal solution for additional storage so the table can be kept clean and open. The colour of their existing table and chairs was a perfect tie in with the upper cabinets for continuity.

The finishing

The final touches in this kitchen that tied everything together were the cabinet handles, lighting and the faucet. The cabinets had outdated handles, and I found replacement handles in black that took the cabinets to a whole new level of sophistication. The lighting went from functional to an integral part of the beauty of the space. And the faucet is stunning! This sleek black Delta faucet has every feature you can imagine from a pull-down nozzle to spray options, but it’s the design that makes it a showstopper.

In small city dwellings when you can’t change the footprint of a space, some clever attention to detail can make even the smallest space feel grand.

Jo Alcorn has more than 15 years of experience as a celebrity interior and home product designer, expert instructor, corporate ambassador, TV personality and entrepreneur. Her passion for design has been showcased on HGTV, Discovery Channel, Marilyn Denis, CBC’s Steven & Chris, CityTV, BT, CHCH, Global Morning and Noon, Rogers Stations, CP24 and more. alcornhome.com


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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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Make it yours, Samantha Pynn customizes this cookie-cutter condo

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Make it yours, Samantha Pynn customizes this cookie-cutter condo

Photography by Virginia MacDonald

As condos continue to get smaller and smaller with each passing year, it is decidedly still the most common single-person dwelling type of household in Canada. Inevitably, the question of how to decorate a cookie-cutter condo and make it ‘yours’ is one dilemma many people face.

Inherited style choices

Pulling a small space together gets even trickier when fixtures and finishes, such as the countertop, tiles and floors, have been chosen for you by a builder or the previous owner.

This certainly was the case for my 500-square-foot condo, which came with standard-issue, stark-white walls and dark-wood floors; plus, a kitchen with a busy backsplash of large brown and grey tiles, and a beige speckled counter. While none of these finishes were on my decorating wish list, I knew that with a few small reno and design changes, I could personalize this little white box and even give it some architectural detail.


Work with what you have

I started with the kitchen, knowing that the finishes would influence all my design decisions in this tiny abode. It didn’t make sense to gut the kitchen: the layout was wellplanned, the cabinets were new and their grey undertone worked well with the floors. As for that granite countertop’s not-so-desirable brown speckle? Well, it would just be too costly and wasteful to remove and replace.

So, I embraced the counter and chose an inexpensive, handpainted 3 x 6-inch tile in the lightest sandy-beige tone of the granite. The handmade tile worked like a charm to bring a homey softness to the space and tone down the brown-and-grey speckles of the counter. While this is not something that I normally do, the original busy backsplash was installed so solidly, that I had my contractor tile right over it.

Worthwhile upgrades

I sold the kitchen’s original stove, which had a plastic backsplash control panel and replaced it with a new front-control range. This immediately elevated the vibe of the kitchen and gave it a cleaner and more streamlined esthetic.

Unifying makeovers

Next, I upcycled an inexpensive big-box store kitchen island. The base of the island got a coat of paint in the same colour as the new backsplash tiles. And, the island’s original butcher- block top was donated and swapped for a dark grey piece of quartz. The dark grey quartz makes both the dark hardwood floors and stainless-steel appliances feel like a purposeful part of the kitchen’s design.

Lastly, I switched the pedestrian stainless-steel cabinet pulls with luxe gold pulls and tucked two vintage counter stools with newly upholstered sand-toned fabric under the island.


Cohesive colour palette

With the direction of the kitchen set, it was easy to run with the sand-and-grey colour scheme. The dark grey velvet sofa connects with the island counter, while the linen drapes pick up on the backsplash tile. The large 12×10-foot living area rug not only works with the kitchen palette but also brightens the space by covering a good portion of the dark-wood floors. The round white-marble coffee table and pale-blue lounge chairs bring a light and airy vibe to the living space.

Soft & soothing

This lightness was then echoed in the bedroom – where only a sliding door separates the open-concept living and kitchen space – with lavender and sand-tone linen bedding and a large soothing piece of nature-inspired abstract art. The drapery is also light in colour, adding softness and texture to the room, but when drawn together, these thick blackout panels dampen sound and block the city’s evening light.

My favourite part of the space is the gridded 1×3-inch MDF panelling. The feature wall requires no headboard and adds depth, architectural detailing and personality galore to the space.


KITCHEN ISLAND COUNTERTOP Quartz in Aramis, Hanstone Quartz. TILES, Saltillo Tile. RANGE, Whirlpool. CABINET HARDWARE, Richelieu. PLATES, CUTTING BOARDS, VASES, KETTLE, JARS, TEA TOWELS, PITCHERS, Home Sense. ISLAND, Ikea. CABINET PAINT (on island base) Inukshuk Advance, Benjamin Moore. COUNTER STOOL UPHOLSTERY, Fine Interiors By Susan. LIVING ROOM SOFA, COFFEE TABLE, RUG, CHAIRS, VASES, PILLOWS, LAMP, Samantha Pynn Home, Home Sense. ART, Amy Stewart, Art Interiors. DRAPERY PANELS, Ikea. BEDROOM SIDE TABLE, COVERLET, PILLOWS, SIDE TABLE, VASE, Home Sense. LINEN DUVET, SHAMS, Samantha Pynn Simons. LAMP, Ikea. MDF PANELLING, Home Depot. ART, Amy Stewart, Art Interiors. DRAPERY PANELS, Ikea.

Samantha Pynn is a beloved Canadian designer, editor and television personality. Known for her approachable, fresh and colourful style, Samantha’s rooms are rooted in the classics, but always with her own modern twist. Samantha Pynn Home – her collection of furniture, accessories and textiles – is designed to be mixed and matched, so that anyone can feel like a decor expert. Follow her on Instagram @samanthapynn


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Kitchen comfort - trends that whet our appetites

Kitchen comfort – trends that whet our appetites

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Kitchen comfort – trends that whet our appetites

The central hub of the home is the kitchen, and kitchens warm up to customization and inviting textural tablescapes.

Celebrating sophistication & glamour

This black, white and gold colourf combination clebrates sophiticalion and glamour The new black-gold dual finish option in the Graceline kitchen faucet collection adds an additional contemporary flair.


Slabs versus tile

There’s a resurgence of slab format surfaces being used for backsplashes instead of tile. This can easily be achieved with both Dekton and Silestone surfaces, which are offered in a 20-mm thickness and thinner, especially now with Dekton Slim in four mm.


Appliances with personality

These stylish knobs and finials allow homeowners to tailor their kitchen aesthetic through jewelryinspired accessories that complement the Heritage Series. Available in real gold, copper and black nickel plating to outfit the Heritage line’s ivory, matte-black, and stainless-steel finishes, Bertazzoni Heritage Series decor set starts at $500, available at Caplan’s Appliances and Canadian Appliance Source.

Tasteful temporal teal

This year’s colour evolution of Le Creuset collection is dramatic teal. A significant departure from last year’s softer hues of Sage and Meringue, Teal is rich and sumptuous – a colour that has depth and a timeless quality. This hue is the natural progression of the brand’s celebrated shades, delivering an interesting and restful green combined with a soothing blue. Braiser 3.5L, $350.


Nature calls

Natural stone-inspired surfaces continue to trend in 2020. Our new Eternal D’Or has soft golden veins across a bright, white background and is for the most elegant kitchen spaces.


Heritage style, modern engineering

Stunning stainless steel, all gas Victoria range cooker. Also available in black and cream, the largest super burner reaches up to 18,000 BTUs with a capacity of 4.4 cu. ft. A show-tipping range in anyone’s kitchen.


Textural Tablescapes

Ceramicist Jono Pandol is a boutique maker of handcrafted dinner and serveware and is a favourite among A-list chefs for his unique dinnerware options for restaurants. Pandol has now created a custom, handmade serveware collection for home. These three pieces are the workhorses of everyday home dining. Each piece is formed and finished by hand.



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