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 reveal - dining room

After months of deliberating and a few Cast Your Vote posts I am finally ready to reveal my new dining room. But before I do that let's look at some before photos and remind ourselves of what I was hoping to achieve. We'll begin with the chairs. As I mentioned previously, for the past five years or so we have had knock-off white vinyl Thonet chairs around our table.

While they have been more than adequate I was really hoping this time around to spend a bit more money and purchase some vintage or licensed reproduction chairs. I think in the long run you get what you pay for.

The other update I wanted to make was to our light fixture. When we first moved into The Marion House we didn't have the large black painting of Napoleon's Hands on the wall. The large, cream drum pendant we had in place really obscured the view of this painting and took away from its presence. If you remember, I was hoping to find something that complimented the artwork and the black chandelier in our living room.

So without further adieu....here it is, my new dining room.

What do you think? As you can see, I went with the black Eames Molded Chair with dowel bases and the Moooi Non-Random Light.

I am super happy with the results. The addition of more black into the room really ties it all together and makes it quite dramatic. The chairs are classics and are actually very kid-friendly as they can be easily cleaned. The painting is clearly the focus of the room and is quite visible through the mesh pendant. I also like how this Moooi fixture references the shape and style of light you would find in Morocco which ties in with the kilim rug below the table. It is also absolutely stunning at night as it casts beautiful patterns around the room. Truth be told, if I had the money I would have bought a Serge Mouille fixture but every project has its budget! And in the end I think this combination works really well with all the elements in the room.

So, was it worth the wait? Is this what you were thinking of when you saw the boxes? I'd love to hear what you have to say!

before and after - oak table

I have this beautiful but very heavy and extremely cumbersome solid oak table that has travelled with me from Edmonton to Vancouver to Toronto. Every time I move I can't seem to part with it. The table is actually so big that it hasn't fit in our last two places. Rather than sell it we have used it as our outdoor table. It is perfect for big summer parties and casual backyard meals. It's weight is actually an asset outside as there is no fear of it blowing away. Now, don't be shocked when you see the next picture! I'll admit that last year my focus was more on learning the ways and means of a newborn baby than it was on house projects. Things like staining the outdoor table never crossed my mind.

Luckily, this year while my parents were visiting I casually mentioned to my father that I had been meaning to sand down and restain our table. Never the type to turn down a project my dad got to it right away and spent two days sanding the table. He even got into all the grooves around the legs. Oh, how I do love my dad!

I then borrowed some left over stain from our neighbours and ta-da it almost looks new again.

This is the first time I have used a white stain on the table. I think it looks pretty good. The great thing about having a piece of solid wood furniture is that you can sand and restain it again and again. To finish off the table I added six new Laver stacking chairs from Ikea:

My favorite way to decorate the table in the summer is to cut single blooms from the plants in our garden and display them in vintage glass bottles or the simple painted bottles I did earlier in the year.

It looks like I will be hanging on to this old table for a few more years to come. Up next, improving the fence, deck and gate! Yikes, does it look bad. There is always something that needs to be done.

before and after part II

As promised, here is another before and after of the project we just finished. Our client had a small bathroom that she was looking to update. When we asked her if there was anything she wanted to keep the answer was a resounding no! On her wish list was a square counter mounted sink, lots and lots of storage, and more light.

One of the first things we did was rearrange the layout of the bathroom. By moving the bathtub horizontally along the back wall of the room we opened up the space creating a better flow. The showpiece of the bathroom is the custom walnut vanity we designed for her which features two unique cutouts on the side and is topped with the square mounted sink she requested. Bianco Carrara marble was used on the floor, countertop and shelf ledge and wall. In order, to give our client lots of storage space we lined one entire wall with mirrored medicine cabinets giving her ample room. Instead of using a curtain or blind to cover the window we had it replaced with fritted glass which provides privacy without losing any light. The result is a light airy bathroom that is simple, clean and timeless.

Here is the before:

And the after (taken from the opposite angle):