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Kitchen Love

Sorry I’ve been away so long, but I have been battling the worst cold in captivity and the outcome was in doubt for a while. So instead of writing blog posts I was reclining on the sofa trying to look pale and interesting and coughing so much I sounded like the last act of Camille.

But some good came from all that. During the past few weeks I’ve learned to appreciate my little kitchen all the more.  I know that everyone who cooks wants to design their own kitchen — they truly are the heart of any home.  When DH and I were talking with our designer about the upper storey of our laneway home we made it clear that most of it would be dedicated to the kitchen/eating area, with just one comfy couch for us to sit on and read or watch TV.

I would love to take credit for the design of the room (hey!  I spent months putting stuff up at Pinterest!) but of course it was our designer Laurel from Novell Design Build who took all our ideas and fit them into our dream kitchen.

We had very little space to work with, a space roughly 11 x 15 feet, that had to fit everything into it, including the seating area.  But in the end we were very pleased with the result:


That’s the view if you’re standing in our door to the deck.

Now let’s look at every reason I love my kitchen.

First, it’s the lightness of the room.  The picture was taken on a fairly bright day, but even on the gloomiest of cloudy days there’s still a lot of light in the place.  It comes from the potlights in the ceiling, from the windows, the doors.  In the kitchen area there are two windows, the one you see in the top picture that looks out over a section of green roof, and the little window placed on the north wall between the counter and the top cupboards.  It’s a tiny window but it helps give the space such an airy feeling.

The quartz countertop also adds to that airiness.  It’s not just the expanse of the peninsula, making our eating area and waterfalling off the side.  The same quartz is used as a backsplash behind the stove and around the window.  It sparkles and gleams, reflecting even more light into the area.

I could write a sonnet about our cupboards.  We chose everything, from the finish to the hardware to the interiors.  We went out to Pacific Rim Cabinets with Laurel to talk with the people who would be building them.  They provided us with a couple of options as far as configuration goes, and we fine-tuned the final result. I love slick white cupboards, but since the room is also our sitting area we wanted to get the idea of warm wood walls into the space.

One way we keep the counters clear of clutter is our wonderful appliance garage.  Counter-top appliances that formerly stood out in the open can be whisked behind a smooth-closing door when we are not using them.


We had long-dreamed of a spice cupboard that would keep all our spices nice and tidy but close to hand.  I saved up all our old martini-olive jars, which volume-wise are just right for holding one of those bulk spice bags from the market, but they are a bit chubby for our purposes so we can’t fit enough jars into the sliding shelves.  I’m always on the lookout for a substitute but haven’t found one yet, so we’ll keep using the jars we have.

Spice shelf

One thing we insisted upon was that we wanted drawers rather than cupboards for our under-counter storage.  We even wanted a drawer under the sink, but it wasn’t feasible.  So we still have doors that open but we do have a drawer within that nicely holds our garbage, recycling basket, and compost bin.

And, right across from our little dishwasher, a drawer for our dinnerware.  Having the dish storage so close to the dishwasher means unloading takes less than two minutes.

Even though we knew we were sacrificing some precious counter space, a double sink was something DH and I insisted upon.  We had truly suffered when we were at our interim rental with a single sink, and we were so relieved to get our lovely double sink.


Of course I love our gas stove and our little fridge/freezer.  It’s true we can’t stock up for the zombie apocalypse with such a small fridge, but we appreciate the almost-daily walks to the nearby Superstore to buy just what we need. And the stove is really easy to clean, the oven racks come right out to leave completely smooth walls for scrubbing. And the dishwasher is exactly the right size for two people.  In fact, some people buy two small dishwashers.  One for daily use, and one for when they have company.  Saves water and hassle.


Keeping the floor clean is easy, too.  We can sweep all the kitchen mess that lands on the floor (curse you, gravity!  you win again) into the baseboard vacuum.  Just a flick and it’s all sucked away.

And if you glance at our ceiling in the first photo above you may see the speaker for our sound system. DH wanted to be able to hear music throughout the house but didn’t want to have speakers cluttering up the sightlines.  So we had a system installed with speakers in our bedroom, the office/studio, and in the kitchen.  Now we can all listen to one thing (if we have a party) or each room can be tuned to something else.

Now you may be thinking that we had no input into the decorating of the room, but that’s not so.  First of all, we did decide on all the finishes, even though we were helped by our designer.  And we chose the lights.  We wanted a nice sleek mid-century feel to the room and the lights show that sensibility.

There’s the saucer light over the peninsula.


And over the stairs by the back door there is a handsome nut lamp.


Please feel free to take any ideas and use them as you will.  We love our kitchen, and you should love yours.

Next year when the big house renovates their kitchen expect a hammer-blow by hammer-blow description.


Mixin’ in the kitchen

Apartment Therapy is a great source for info on small spaces.  Let’s face it — most apartments are small.  That means getting clever with organization and use of space.

With my mind on kitchens, I was looking through some tiny apartments in Apartment Therapy to see what people have done with these spaces.

Apartment kitchens are usually pretty dull for two reasons — a) they are tiny, and b) they are full of things that are expensive to install and replace — appliances, cupboards, floors.  So most apartment kitchens start off fairly…..pedestrian.

Go nuts.

Go nuts.

Those white/almond cupboards with the wood trim?  Fairly ubiquitous.  This owner has kept the accessories white to add to the feeling of cohesion and spaciousness.  It’s tidy and pleasant, and the upper cupboards go right to the ceiling rather than have that dust-collecting shelf at the top.

But there are obviously strict limitations.  In this suite, they’ve put the kitchen in the space under the sleeping loft, which means it’s basically the foyer as well.


The owner has colour-coordinated the accessories, which is nice, but it’s clearly meant to be as unobtrusive as possible.

This tenant has managed to infuse some colour and pattern into the basic white of their kitchen with beautiful handles:


But some people infuse their spaces with their personalities by going all out with eccentric chachkis:



I sense a religious theme:


I think that’s a better use of space than putting your extra casseroles up there.

A studio suite in a basement has a lot to overcome.  Renter Laura Lee has brightened her windowless kitchen with well, stuff:


Sometimes plain is a good thing.  These renters have played off the white of their kitchen by keeping to silver and black — continuing the sleek modernism of the rest of their loft.


Even the rag rug keeps it clean and simple in the kitchen:



When we were planning our laneway, we wanted a nice kitchen.  You have to compromise, but the kitchen was not the place we wanted to do that.  Instead we sacrificed a “living room” for a more spacious cooking and eating area.

Want to see it?


Photo courtesy of Novell Design Build.

That huge counter with the waterfalled edge?  We wanted that.  It gives us a comfortable place to sit and eat, plus lots of room for cooking and baking (and sewing and writing blog posts on the laptop.)

You can see how light and bright it is.


Photo courtesy of Novell Design Build.

And there really is tons of storage.  A pull-out spice shelf, appliance garage, plus deep drawers for our dishes and pots.

This is what it means to have a custom kitchen built just for us.  I’m sure you will look at that kitchen and think “I would have done things differently.”  Well you can!  We wanted this, and we got it, thanks to good work from our designer, our builder, and our custom cabinet maker.

We change up the accessories to add more personality to the space.  And we keep it very, very tidy.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and we wanted one that would inspire us every day.

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