Style at Home
A dated kitchen comes alive thanks to a thoroughly modern, and mostly monochromatic, makeover.
Designer Iman Lalji likes to look on the bright side. When she first saw this kitchen in its before stage, she wasn’t phased by the stove oddly angled in a corner or its teeny L-shaped island; instead, she saw potential. “It was typical of a 20-year-old home in the Toronto suburbs,” she says. “Good bones, but dated finishes.” The owners wanted something more modern and luxurious, and Iman set the update in motion with a new design, rich materials and a strikingly bold palette.
Designer Iman Lalji took the timeless, graphic appeal of black and white and gave it a twist. “I wanted to make it look more modern by mixing in some warmer tones,” she says. “The veining in the porcelain wall slabs is actually green and I like that it’s subtle, not overpowering.” Different shades of blush – from the pinkish laminate metal drawers and coppery stool accents to the rose-gold look of the sconces and faucet – layer in the desired warmth. “Plus, the metallic finishes just give everything a bit of a glamorous feel.”
Flat-front cabinetry ensures that the carefully considered accents remain a focal point. “I’m a minimalist at heart and felt the attention should go to the veined porcelain and the blush drawers,” says Iman. “Hardware wasn’t necessary in my mind – I wanted the owners to enjoy the detailing and subtlety of the other items and materials we chose.” The island’s cooktop furthers the seamlessness of the backdrop. “They’re individual burners that I first saw on a design trip to Spain,” says Iman. “They can be configured exactly as you like and the best part is they allowed us to hide the downdraft vent beneath the counter.”
To keep the aesthetic lively, Iman introduced some more traditional elements into the modern mix. “I layered in a soft Roman blind that feels classic, yet still ties into the black and white. The sconces have a time-honoured silhouette, but the blush tone puts a fresh spin on them, and the cane chairs add an old-meets-new vibe,” she says. “In this space, the chairs feel like a new take on vintage style, similar to the floor tiles – familiar black and white but laid in an unexpected pattern.”
Mehnaz Malik knows a limited budget doesn’t mean sacrificing function or aesthetics. With family life and budget informing her choices, the designer opted for laminate millwork in this kitchen belonging to a young family in Toronto. “Laminate is strikingly similar to white oak veneer but way more economical and durable,” she says. Its pale tones, both textural and warm, and the newly widened glass doors bring a lightened spirit to the room. “The kitchen is now the epicentre of their home,” says Mehnaz, “full of warmth, joy and positive energy.”
Accentuate the Positive
“I used colour and saturated tones in the black faucet, soft blue stools and the gold in the pendants,” says designer Mehnaz Malik, who employed a mostly light-toned palette to bring brightness to the previously dark space. Closed storage keeps things neat and tidy, while an open wood cubby displays pretty pottery. The lighting is a masterful mix – think under cabinet, recessed ceiling, gorgeous mid-century inspired island pendants and contemporary dining chandelier.
The 10-foot-long island serves as a spot both for meals and homework. New expanded glass doors flood the south-facing room with an abundance of natural light.
“The days of a massive front living room and poky little kitchen are gone,” says designer Michelle Berwick. “Life happens around the island.” When Michelle was hired to renovate this 2004-built house in Aurora, Ontario (home to an owner who loves to cook and her two teenagers), she doubled the kitchen’s original 400 square feet to a hefty 800, added an expansive island that seats four, and included lots of dream-kitchen details like gorgeous colour, cheery finishes and splurge-worthy materials. Michelle’s savvy advice: “When redesigning an existing kitchen, don’t feel confined by its footprint.”
“Walls can come down and new spaces can be completely reimagined.”
“The new kitchen is moody, yet bright,” says designer Michelle Berwick. “I tempered the inky navy cabinetry with light quartz countertops and a blue-veined backsplash. I also went with a white oak island and stained it to jive with the hardwood flooring.” Her colour expertise is on display in the range hood’s unexpected hue. “I broke up the blue cabinetry with black, then accented the kitchen with a mix of gold- and blacktoned metals – even the faucet has a two-tone gold and black matte finish. I believe open floor plans need to have a connecting element.”
Hide & Seek
Gutting the home allowed Michelle to reconfigure the layout and steal some space from the old dining room to create a new dream pantry. “What mom doesn’t want to feel like Batman dashing in and out of her secret hidden pantry?” she laughs. “Its door looks like any other cabinet door so the pantry inside is unexpected. I also integrated the electrical so the lights automatically turn on and turn off when the door is closed – it couldn’t be easier to use.”
With budget in mind, Michelle had originally suggested laminate countertops in the out-of-sight pantry, but the owner was open to splurging. “I was excited to be able to continue the quartz countertops here, and such a fancy material demanded fancy accessories, like these beautiful paper, two-tone and flat white baskets. They’re functional but still pretty, and they repeat the cognac colours I used throughout the main floor for continuity.”