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Design/Build Expert: Kitchens

What’s cookin’ good lookin’ ? Kitchens are changing. This is how and why

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What’s cookin’ good lookin’ ? Kitchens are changing. This is how and why

Photography by Peter Sellar

Kitchens are changing dramatically in Canada as housing forms continue to change, and the driver is the divide between larger, expansive sprawl or estate-style homes versus the shrinking units found in the newer, micro-sized condo suites. They are also evolving to represent the true goal of these spaces – and it may differ from what you may initially think.

Size matters

The larger the home, the more likely one can find an eat-in style, more closed concept, dedicated kitchen space. While this room may be somewhat open to either the dining room or the family room for a great-room style feel, it is now more expansive and opulent than ever.

The smaller the home, the more likely the kitchen is completely open-concept to the main living area, adjacent to either the dining or family rooms, or even integrated into the suite as a whole like in a bachelor-style suite. In these types of spaces, appliances are more often hidden behind panel-style fronts, blending seamlessly and completely out of sight when not in use. It provides more of a multi-functional and flexible space, eliminating the feel that one is always in the kitchen when eating, socializing or even sleeping in those tight urban abodes.

Paradigm shift

The trends as it relates to colours of the cabinets and counters themselves are changing too. While the most popular all-white kitchen has dominated the last decade, the mood and related colour palette is shifting in a big way. The intermixing of colour, be it stained or painted cabinets, have been dropped into the spaces by way of feature islands or lower versus upper cabinet colouring, for some time now. Designer Laura Thornton from Thornton Design confirms the fashion of this hub has taken a virtual 180. “Black,” she says, “as well as deep greys and hearty wood tones in a matte or high-gloss finish,” are setting the dramatic stage. Mixing in more offsetting style includes large industrial ranges and ventilation hood fan covers as popping focal points in larger kitchens. Paired with gold hardware, the strong statement is a paradigm shift from recent historical kitchen projects where hoods were hidden and white cabinets and brushed nickel adorned virtually every project, along with light, if not pure white counters.

Industry insider

Quartz countertop company Cambria further confirms this. Kirstin Kucy, Toronto market rep from Cambria, affirms that even though white and grey counters are still extremely popular in kitchens, consumers and designers are trending more to a darker, sophisticated, richer colour palette. This is most visible in the kitchen surfaces where consumers are gravitating towards darker hues and low-lustre (matte finish) materials. “We’ve seen an increased interest in Cambria’s Blackpool Matte design, a low-sheen, solid-black quartz surface material, as well as in designs from our new Black Marble collection for use in kitchens, and even in architectural elements such as backsplashes, shower walls and fireplace surrounds, in lieu of tile,” she says.

Design district privileges

When planning your own kitchen project, be sure to swing by Toronto’s design-decor district – specifically The Building Block – the new one-stop shopping solution at the corner of Caledonia and Lawrence, where you can retain the full suite of both architectural and interior design services for your space, experience a number of the newest kitchen designs in new vignettes, as well as more than 160 countertop styles in the Cambria Premier Dealership in the Distinctive by Design Fine Cabinetry showroom. You can even retain the service of full construction execution – all under one Green rooftop patio! While in the area, be sure to check out some of our designer and trade local favourites, such as the café inside Elte, or for some cured meats or an espresso at Speducci Mercatto, where you can feel like a trendsetting European as you sort out the selections you will use for your own amazing kitchen.

Buon appetito!

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.


(416) 782-5690


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Caesarstone announces new 2018 collection - The Metropolitan Collection

Caesarstone announces new 2018 collection – The Metropolitan Collection

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Caesarstone announces new 2018 collection – The Metropolitan Collection

Robust construction finishes have become a popular choice for urban consumers, inspired by factories and lofts. Premium quartz manufacturer Caesarstone has seamlessly revived this industrial look, with its new innovative and organic Metropolitan Collection.

The new collection offers surfaces with a rough, tough and unpolished feel that will add an industrial edge to your readers’ kitchens, bathrooms and more. Not just for downtown condos, the Metropolitan collection can give readers the same industrial feeling in their home outside the city.

Each sturdy surface in the Metropolitan Collection has been designed to reflect the authentic patinas of industrial materials. The variations in appearance capture real depth and movement, revealing different qualities that make each slab unique. By innovating cutting-edge technology exclusive to Caesarstone, weathered patinas have been achieved in quartz for the very first time.


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Design Expert: Kitchen Counterculture

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Design Expert: Kitchen Counterculture

From natural to man-made surfaces, a guide to choosing a stylish, hard-working countertop on every budget

The counter top is of premium concern for any homeowner working on a kitchen renovation. Even if you’re just “sprucing it up,” the counter makes a huge impact. Beyond the wow-factor lies the more practical use as your food preparation area. But with so many products on the market, how do you know which is best for you? Everyone wants the combination of beauty and performance that suits their budget, but that means a different thing to everyone. Let’s explore a few of those options so you can make the best choice that suits you.


The most typical natural-stone choices are granite and marble. Granite is a slightly harder product, while marble is somewhat more porous, making it a little more vulnerable to stains. You do need to seal all natural-stone products but the process is simple. The product will age slightly over time, but that makes it unique. These stones are mined from the earth, cut into slabs and usually polished to give them a high-gloss shine. They’re as individual as fingerprints as no two pieces are exactly the same. You can find marble and granite in a variety of colours and patterns, and they’ve been the surface of choice for literally hundreds, if not thousands of years. Unpolished stone or a matte finish has been increasingly popular, which also solves the problem of marks from acidic foods. The costs vary depending on the uniqueness of the stone, but on average you want to budget $1,500 to $4,000 including installation.


Laminate counters were the rage after the Second World War when the product first appeared on the market. The colours and patterns are endless, ranging from stone looks to polka dots in neon colours, and everything in between. Laminate is very durable and long-lasting, impervious to stains, easy to clean and is highly cost-effective. The laminate is usually adhered to a substrate of chipboard to keep it rigid. If the chipboard gets wet, it will swell and fall apart. It’s the preferred choice for cafeteria tables, cottages and university dorm rooms. Typically, you can get it installed for about $500 making it the overall budget-friendly choice.


Quartz countertops are a manmade product that combines crushed quartzite (a very hard, natural stone) and a variety of polymers to produce a durable, non-porous surface. The colour possibilities are vast, however, most manufacturers produce a natural- stone look. It’s perfect for people that want the counter to look the same on the last day they owned it as it did the first day it was installed. These surfaces require no effort to maintain outside of soap and water to clean them. There are a bunch of manufacturers that create a very similar product, although some provide more selection in colour and pattern. Most man-made countertops are quartz, however, they are often recognized by their brand names.

“You can find MARBLE AND GRANITE IN A VARIETY OF COLOURS AND PATTERNS and they’ve been the surface of choice for literally hundreds if not thousands of years.”


Wood has been the choice of butchers for as long as I can remember, although most homeowners are not looking for a butcher’s block in open-concept kitchens. If you combine with a cutting surface, a warm wooden work surface warms up a kitchen in a way that stone cannot. Walnut has naturally occurring anti-microbial properties, perfect for a kitchen. The surface is sealed and simple soap and water will clean this up perfectly. This kind of surface will typically be less expensive than stone but is mainly ideal for a kitchen island.


One of the newest products on the market is Dekton by Cosentino. It’s a man-made product that seems to have taken the thousands of years’ process of natural stone, and squeezed it into 48 hours. The combination of extreme heat and pressure mimics the natural creation of stone, however, because it is man-made, the look can be predetermined and consistent. It becomes a decorated stone, which is also where it got its name. The distinctive element of Dekton is its ability to survive the outdoor elements, making it suitable on both sides of the front door, unlike other man-made products. It’s slightly less costly than natural stone but the fabrication process may be slightly more costly until fabricators are more familiar with the product.

Ultimately, there are no wrong choices, but it is valuable to understand how one product compares to another, so that you can make an informed choice.

Extensive experience in residential, commercial and hospitality design. Principal of design firm Grafus Design Build, Glen Peloso is frequently in the media as design expert on the Marilyn Denis Show, and CHCH Morning Live, a contributor to Global Morning News, Breakfast Television Toronto, past series with HGTV and the Food Network, along with Radio and Blogs. Reporting on design trends from around the world, his work has been featured in various print publications throughout North America. Twitter: glenpeloso Instagram: glenpelosodesigner


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Cambria introduces seven new designs

Cambria introduces seven new designs

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Cambria introduces seven new designs

Cambria, the first and only family-owned, American-made natural quartz producer in North America, maintains its international lead in design, beauty and innovation with the introduction of seven new designs across three distinct and beautiful collections. With the addition of these seven designs, Cambria now offers an unparalleled 133 designs across nine collections. The new designs are available for order immediately through Cambria’s exclusive network of premium independent specialty retail and trade partners.

“As the industry leader in quartz, we pair emerging trends with inspiration from the penetrating natural landscape of Wales – Cambria’s unique heritage — to consistently deliver exquisite and imaginative designs,” said Peter Martin, executive vice president sales, marketing and business partner services at Cambria. “We continually improve our advanced proprietary technologies to create the most wide-ranging natural stone surfaces.

“Our seven new designs translate the beauty of nature into timeless and luxurious design palettes our partners and homeowners crave.”

In the Marble Collection, Swanbridge, Carrick and Weybourne expand Cambria’s elegant marble palette, offering the classic, sought-after sophistication of marble, but none of the maintenance.

From the Coastal Collection, Helmsley, Harlech, and Princetown are three distinctive, rich, and exceptional designs that make an impressive statement in any space. Hadley adds more depth with a bold navy design and unlimited versatility in the Desert Collection.


Complex and flowing, Swanbridge features a pillowy marble foundation, with medium-tone gray veins, dabs of creamy white accents, and pinpoint charcoal speckles scattered throughout.


Presenting a modern spin on smooth concrete, Carrick flourishes swirling shades of gray and soft charcoal specks to create an intriguing pattern in this stylish and contemporary composition.


Soft and airy, Weybourne is a timeless blend of classic pillowy marble tones grounded with subtle gray veins for added character and intrigue.



Offering a generous measure of sophistication, Helmsley is a stunning merger of rich coppers, golds and tans pirouetting among pewter veins and ebony confetti.


Rich and aristocratic, Harlech is an elegant union of noble coppers, golds and tans infused around and within boldly dramatic gray-sparkled veins of black, gray, and white.


Calling to mind the ceremony and splendor of life at court, Princetown cloaks itself in regal shades of deep purple and gold that swirl behind dramatic black and white veins.



Modern and sophisticated, Hadley is a solid blue as crisp, clean and classy as the spotless uniforms of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy.

To view Cambria’s latest offerings and entire design palette, visit cambriacanada.com.


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The Skinny on Countertops

The Skinny on Countertops

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The Skinny on Countertops

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then perhaps the counter is the heart of the kitchen

Whether you choose from classic and natural materials such as marble, granite and limestone, or from a wide array of man-made materials and composites, it is the one element which can determine the style, level of luxury and functionality in a kitchen.

We all know that marble and granite are classic choices for a countertop, whether in a kitchen or a bathroom. They are both natural stones which must be quarried, leaving an environmental impact which must be considered when we make our choice. Though granite is virtually indestructible and heat proof, it can be very expensive and have a ‘heavy’ look in the space. With prices beginning at $50 per square foot and up, there are options for various budgets.

Marble provides a very desirable high end look and depending which strain of marble you choose, it has very good heat and waterproof properties, although it can scratch and stain unless it is professionally sealed. When choosing marble, you must be ready to accept that it will age over time and the ‘patina of your life’ will be reflected in the marble.

One of the most abundant minerals in the world, quartz is often considered the alternative to granite and marble. Available in numerous colours and now even in the look of marble and limestone, quartz’s non-porous quality makes it highly resistant to mold, bacterial contamination, stain, heat and all of life’s accidents making it a perfect choice for most residential or commercial applications. Because it is man-made, the availability of consistently sized and coloured slabs is a designer’s dream. Slabs of quartz are normally 55″ x 122″ and they are often available as jumbo sized slabs at 63″ x 132″, which is fantastic for design flexibility and often fewer cut lines. Priced from $80 per square foot, it is not inexpensive, but it is a perfect choice for those who want many customization options.

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed primarily of talc as well as magnesium, mica, quartz, chlorite and iron. It is very durable and has been used for centuries to create everything from fireplaces to sinks. It is coming into vogue these days because of its natural beauty and durability; hot pans, lemon juice and wine will not damage it. The colour ranges from light gray to black with random veining which gives it an ability to look great in rustic or traditional interiors as well as in modern and contemporary spaces. At about $80 to $100 per square foot installed, it is on the pricey side, but will provide a lifetime of enjoyment.

The desire to be eco-friendly makes recycled glass a perfect option for a contemporary space. Available in multiple colours and textures, it is perfect for a bar or as a secondary counter surface because it is easy to clean and resists heat and stains. Cement is often used with glass to create a textural look with various colours. At about $120 per square foot, it is easily customized and comes in multiple colours.

Semi-precious stone including quartz, iron, agate, petrified wood and fossils are high end options which add a luxurious and unique visual expression. Although this is a very costly choice, it will no doubt be the star of any space where it is used.

Solid surface counters can emulate just about any material because they are completely man-made. The ability to mould sinks, drains and creative shapes makes this a designer’s dream while the ease of maintenance makes it a wonderful investment for long term use.

Metal counters such as copper and zinc are not common, but they make a powerful statement. At about $100 per square foot and up, it is a creative choice which will patina over time and be the conversation starter in your kitchen or bar area.

Sustainably harvested wood will bring any serious cook’s kitchen to the next level with its natural beauty and ability to work as a built-in cutting surface. Maintenance of regular sanding and oiling will bring out a beautiful patina and enhance the inherent properties. Even though it is porous, wood has an inherent ability to protect from bacteria build up as long as it is cleaned regularly with mild soap and water. Prices vary from $35 per square foot and up depending on the type of wood and how it is fabricated.

Let’s not discount laminate counters as they are still the best option for budget conscious projects. Improvements in quality, fabrication, colour and textural choices make this a surprisingly good option when installed with no backsplash, simple edges and accented with beautiful tiles. Be creative and expressive in the design of the countertop by combining metal finishes and interesting translucent combinations, high gloss and t extural surfaces. With starting prices at around $8 per square foot, it is an attractive choice when your budget is tight.

Don’t reach for the obvious, consider the counter as a design expression which can complete and enhance the look and style of the space. The list is endless with options, make sure to research and explore the options based on your functionality, style and budget. By combining materials, finishing edges creatively, and considering ‘alternative’ choices, you will make your project stand out.

Recognized for her classic taste and eclectic style, Interior Designer EVELYN ESHUN has been providing innovative, forward thinking and consistently artistic design solutions for her discerning clients for almost 2 decades. A design personality on various television shows, including Take this House and Sell it, Evelyn is a regular contributor to local and national design publications.

For more information, visit evelyneshun.com.


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