more design work

I though I'd kick off this week showing you a kitchen we recently designed in Leslieville which is a neighbourhood in East Toronto. Let's start with a little preview of how the finished kitchen turned out.

This kitchen is really the icing on the cake for our two homeowners. I won't go into all the gory details but basically one small leak in their basement turned into an overnight disaster that forced them to completely rebuild their foundation from the inside out after it was cleared of all the contaminating mould. Obviously, it was a costly and emotionally difficult renovation that lasted for the better part of a year. During that time, they often had no running water and no heat! Amazingly, the two of them never lost heart and were surprisingly chipper whenever we saw them. Early on the two decided that they were committed to their home and were in it for the long haul. With this mindset, they decided to take on a few other renovations to really make their home a place they wanted to stay.

When we first met them the kitchen looked like this:

You can clearly see that the kitchen was small and cramped and that they did not have enough storage space. Most of their problems stemmed from a poorly located staircase to the basement (which you can see covered in orange vinyl) and badly placed duct work that limited the amount of upper cabinets they could have. There was also a very little counterspace which made cooking in the kitchen difficult. Basically, it was a kitchen for one cook! In addition, the light, maple cabinets and dark black appliances were really fighting with each other making the space seem smaller than it really was.

The first thing we did was reorganize the floorplan of the first floor. We moved the staircase to the basement to the middle of the house under the existing (upper) stairs and we rerouted all the duct work so that we could have an interrupted flow of cabinets in the kitchen. By moving the basement stairs we gained three feet of width to the kitchen which made a huge difference. We also switched the living room and dining room around so that the dining room is now adjacent to the kitchen.

Our clients chose white oak cabinets with bookmatched grain and Viking stainless steel appliances. We ran the cabinets right up to the ceiling to give them as much storage as possible. This also makes the ceiling look much higher than it did before. The countertops are a solid white, composite quartz and the backsplash is a glass and marble mosaic.

In order to maximize the light, we added a larger window to the back of the house and a glass panel door. In addition, we switched the location of the range and fridge from the original layout so that ample preparation space was provided on either side of the cooktop.

This kitchen is now a functional space that has room for at least two cooks. The new window and door allow light to stream through the whole house making it seem much bigger and brighter. Knowing all the long days, endless phone calls and stress our clients went through with their basement renovation it really makes me happy to see them enjoying their new kitchen. I'd love to hear what you think of the new kitchen.

And before I go, I just wanted to mention the winner of the 3M giveaway is Nat! Congratulations! I'll be in touch with your shortly.

Image credits:
Ashley Capp (after photos)

the friday files

I have a few things on the go right now that are really keeping me busy. Next week, I have two photo shoots scheduled. The first one is for September's Hello! Neighbor post with my trusted and lovely photographer Kristin Sjaarda. The second is a two-part shoot at a couple of the homes my partner, Yasmin and I recently finished designing. We're working with photographer Ashley Tonner who took these amazing shots for House and Home awhile back. I'm excited to see the homes camera-ready and to see what Ashley comes up with! The photos will be used on our new Marion Melbourne website which we will relaunch later this month.

Speaking of relaunching, I finally figured out today why people outside of Canada could not log on to my facebook page. It turns out there is a setting under Profiles that restricted access to Canadians. Well, that has now been changed! So world, if you would like to "like" me on facebook you now can.

I'd love to hear what's keeping you busy this summer.

I'm leaving you with some images from photographer Brian Park who took the shots for one of my favorite books, Restoring a House in the City (thanks again, Abbey!).

All images Brian Park.




chatelaine - your turn to choose

Last week I filled you in on a design project my partner Yasmin and I have been working on for Chatelaine magazine. We were given the task of making over a typical, nondescript bedroom. Today, I thought I would take you back to the beginning of the process to give you an idea of how we start a project and some of the steps we go through. Almost all projects start with a kernel of an idea, a look or an inspiration that guides the design. In this case, we were given the following images by the clients.

Sometimes we get literally hundreds of images from people and other times only a handful. To be honest, I find the fewer images we receive the easier it is for us to achieve something closer to what you want. Here it was easy to see that the clients were drawn to the colour blue. We also picked up on a feeling of wanderlust, the idea of escape or travel that was part Mediterranean in feel and part Asian. Armed with these images we set out to find some furniture, fabrics and objects that would lead the way.

{A few notes before we begin. The room we are working with has four white walls and a medium oak floor. It is a rental property so actual physical changes to the room were kept to a minimum. We decided that the best use of the clients money would be on pieces they could take with them to another home.}

We presented to the clients three different scenarios. Each with their own personality but centered around a common theme.

The first included lots of brass and gold elements which we picked up on from the chandelier in the inspiration image and the colours in the large photograph on the wall.

The second scenario relied on heavier dark wood pieces and sculptural elements that gave the room an ethnic flair.

The third included many organic and natural elements like the woven baskets and sisal rug which made the overall feel of the room more relaxed and beachy.

While the clients liked elements of all three (to a certain degree these designs can be mixed and matched) in the end they did settle on one overall direction or feeling.

Can you guess which one it is? Do you have a personal preference?

hello! neighbor - lorne & yasmin

As promised, I'm starting a new feature called Hello! Neighbor. The community I live in, called Parkdale, is home to many old and beautiful houses that have found their way into the hands of some very creative people. I'm drawn to homes that reflect the individual tastes and personalities of their owners. I think it is fascinating to see what objects people choose to surround themselves with and what makes them happy. First up is my friend and partner in crime, Yasmin. She and her husband live in a Victorian house just down the road from us...


Lorne & Yasmin


Lorne is a Photographer and Yasmin is a Prop & Wardrobe stylist as well as a Designer & Partner at Marion Melbourne (Interiors)

How long have you lived in your home?

5 years

Any animals, kids?

Yes, 2...



What is your favorite room?

Kitchen, definitely – it is so warm and inviting and light, you never want to leave.

What is your favorite object/thing/moment in your home?

We like to bring back souvenirs from our travels. For example large silk cushions from Thailand, a bedspread from Mexico or rugs from anywhere they make kilims. We have a gorgeous lamp from Morocco that creates beautiful shadows on the wall. It is fun to mix these exotic elements with more modern or even antique furnishings. We don’t want our house to feel like a tourist cruise around the world, but accents make interesting touches.

What are your future plans for the home?

Enlarge entry, create a 3rd floor master bedroom suite in the attic, and the backyard needs help….2 dogs and grass don’t mix very well, and the cinderblock garage could be faced with something more pleasing to the eye. Then there is the front yard…Let’s face it, these old houses are great project houses.

Anything you would change?

A couple more feet in width would be nice - a common Victorian complaint.

What original feature(s) of your home will you never get rid of?

Wood burning fireplace, the stained glass, the mouldings…..and we would like to keep as many plaster walls as possible – their slight imperfections compared to drywall makes the house feel more organic.

Best thing about living in Parkdale?

It’s never boring and a lot of our friends live nearby.

How high are your ceilings?

Over 10ft on the first floor, and a little bit lower upstairs.