Photography by Bruno Petrozza, Design by Emilie Ceretti
You don't need to gut the entire space—or your bank account—to give your kitchen a fresh new look. The smallest of changes (think hardware, paint and backsplash) can make a huge impact. These stunning spaces show you how.
1. Paint them pretty
Photography by Yves Lefebvre
Easy upgrade: Painting your cabinets is one o the easiest ways to update your kitchen. We love the crisp white and the rich navy of this traditional kitchen—a fresh twist on ever-popular black and white—but if you want a lighter look, pair grey lower cabinets with white uppers. It can cost a lot to have your cabinets professionally sprayed, but luckily this is a great DIY project. Just be sure to choose a durable paint that's designed for cabinetry, use a foam roller and a good-quality brush and follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying times. The ultimate secret to successfully painted cabinets? Thoroughly clean and sand all surfaces and apply a coat of primer before painting.
Why we love it: The colour options are endless: Go bold, go neutral or paint your upper and lower cabinets in coordinating hues.
2. Light it up
Photography by Bruno Petrozza. Design by Emilie Cerreti
Easy upgrade: Swap out old fixtures in favour of dramatic pendants, like these statement-making globes in a warm metallic finish. Great lighting is both practical and pretty, adding a jewellery-like finishing touch to an often utilitarian space. Standout options exist for just about every style, whether your kitchen is traditional, modern, glam or rustic—but don't be afraid to choose lighting that contrasts with your existing look. These sculptural pendants provide a glam counterpoint to the room's clean lines and neutral palette, making the overall look more special. A couple of rules to keep in mind: Hang pendants 30 to 36 inches above the countertop so they don't obstruct your view, and don't be afraid to play with scale. On its own, a fixture might be too small for a space, but in a pair or grouping, it has more visual impact. Also consider installing dimmer switches, which will allow you to adjust the light to suit a mood or an occasion.
Why we love it: Grouping two or three pendants over your island is a budget-friendly way to freshen up the look of your kitchen without having to completely overhaul the space. (And who doesn't need extra task lighting for meal prep?)
3. On display
Photography by Janis Nicolay. Design by Riesco & Lapres Interior Design Inc.
Easy upgrade: Add open shelving. Ditching traditional uppers gives your kitchen a sense of space, but you can get a similar effect on a smaller scale—without having to stash your cereal boxes and everyday dishes in plain sight. Instead, create a designated space for display, as in this condo kitchen by the design team from Vancouver's Riesco & Lapres Interior Design Inc. In a little nook above the sink, art adds personality, while brightly coloured ceramics lend a cheery touch. If an open shelf feels too exposed, replace some cabinet doors with frosted-glass fronts. It's an inexpensive move that still allows you to achieve an airy quality.
Why we love it: Open shelving breaks up a wall of cabinetry and makes a clever alternative to a window, which most condo kitchens lack. Instead of a view of the outdoors, styled shelves provide the visual interest.
4. Pattern play
Photography by Ashley Capp. Design by Trish Johnston
Easy upgrade: Give your kitchen instant personality with bold wallpaper. This swirling green motif adds colour and interest without overpowering the room's clean lines and bright white colour scheme. When selecting a style for your kitchen, there are no rules: Go ahead and experiment with scale and colour. If you're worried about food splashes wreaking havoc on your walls, cover the wallpapered area with Plexiglas, available at specialty stores, like Toronto's Plastic World, where you can even have it cut to size. (But if you're covering an area of the wall that's exposed to heat, opt for glass instead.) The Plexiglas can be secured with an adhesive purchased from your local home-improvement store.
Why we love it: It gives your space a customized look—especially if you splurge on really great wallpaper—and, as long as you do your own installation, it's easy on the wallet.
5. Work it
Photography by Brandon Barre. Design by Jane Lockhart
Easy upgrade: Adding a simple workstation is a great way to increase you kitchen's functionality. "It's a place to manage the household and to keep things organized," says designer Jane Lockhart. "It doesn't have to be large—this one is only three feet wide." Base cabinets installed at table height, a durable work surface and a stylish desk chair are all you need to create your own kitchen command centre. If a built-in option is out of reach, repurpose a desk from another room in the house by painting it to match the cabinets and pairing it with one of your existing kitchen chairs.
Why we love it: You don't have to renovate to fit a desk into your existing floor plan.
6. Bring on the bling
Photography by Stacey Brandford. Design by Stacy Begg
Easy upgrade: Designer and former Style at Home design editor Stacy Begg recently refreshed her kitchen to make it larger, brighter and more family-friendly. To add sophistication to the space without spending a lot of money, she dressed up Ikea cabinets with chic golden pulls. "When it comes to kitchen hardware, always think of the overall look you're going for," says Begg. "I was working with warm metals—brass and gold gilt—but I didn't want it to look too traditional. I chose slim gold-tone pulls to keep things modern."
Why we love it: The pulls can easily be swapped out for new ones when you are ready for a different look.
7. Floors to adore
Photography by Wing Ta/Domino. Design by Kate Arends
Easy upgrade: Install statement-making patterned floor tiles. That's what homeowners Kate Arends and Joe Peters did in their Minnesota kitchen. Originally, the couple's floor was hardwood, but these graphic tiles, priced at $9 each, gave new life to the space and didn't cost a fortune. In an open-plan home, they also help delineate zones and, thanks to the hard-wearing nature of tile, spills and stains are a nonissue.
Why we love it: Beautifully patterned tiles are totally on-trend!
8. Fantasy island
Photography by Donna Griffith. Design by Greta Podleski
Easy upgrade: Bestselling cookbook author and former TV host Greta Podleski designed her kitchen island to look like a vintage sideboard. "I love the stylish view into the kitchen from the dining room," says Podleski. "And it provides a ton of functional storage." If a custom island isn't in the budget, create one from a vintage dining table or dresser. Just add a durable top, like marble or butcher block, and install castors to raise the top to counter height.
Why we love it: A sideboard-style option pairs the functionality of a storage-heavy kitchen island with the chic look of furniture.
9. Make a splash
Photography by Stacey Brandford. Design by Janine Love
Easy upgrade: This kitchen, designed for Jillian Harris, features a gorgeous mosaic backsplash made of honeycomb- shaped marble tiles. Spanning the entire height of one wall, it adds a subtle pattern to the space. Combined with a neutral colour palette and industrial accents, like the range hood, the space has a cool, modern bistro vibe. A word of warning: Choose the shape, the finish and the colour of tiles carefully. You'll want to live with your backsplash for years to come, so don't select a style that's too bold or trendy.
Why we love it: Replacing a backsplash is a budget-friendly update you can tackle on your own.
Illustrations by Josie Portillo
When disaster struck last Christmas Eve, the Hawman family never imagined the hero of the day would be their rescue dog, Rex.
Santana Hawman was only a few minutes away from her acreage northeast of Saskatoon, driving her three young kids and nephew home from Christmas Eve dinner, when her husband's name lit up her caller ID. Though she wouldn't normally answer the phone while driving—especially at night on the dark country road—she knew Mitch would call from his truck, which followed just behind them, only if it was urgent. Mitch's frantic voice leaped from the speaker. He had just spoken with his mother, Noreen, who was visiting for the holidays but had stayed home for the evening with a fever and aches and pains; while she had been sleeping on the couch, the house caught fire. It was now burning to the ground.
As Mitch raced home, Santana called 911, watching an orange glow rise to the sky. "It was surreal," she says. "I had all four kids with me, so I was trying to keep it together and not freak out." She tried to give details to the operator, but all she knew was that Noreen had jumped into the family's third vehicle and pulled it out of the driveway, so she was safe and warm on that cold winter night. As Santana drove toward her swiftly burning home, her next thought was of the family's pets: four dogs, four cats, two rabbits and a hamster.
As soon as Santana pulled up to the house, she started counting the dogs: Rex, an eight-year-old German shepherd– Alaskan malamute cross, was howling; Ozzy, a Norwegian elkhound puppy, was running back and forth, unsure of what to do; Capone, the five-month-old golden retriever–Pyrenees baby of the family, was sitting in shock; and Phoebe, a schnauzer-Lab, was planted on the road, far from the house. "She wouldn't even come to us," remembers Santana. "I had to pick her up and put her in the vehicle." Three of the cats survived, but the family's indoor cat, Bella, died in the fire, along with the hamster and rabbits. An ambulance ferried Noreen to the hospital, and neighbours took in the kids and dogs, as Santana and Mitch watched their house burn out.
It wasn't until the following day, after Noreen was released and Santana noticed a rip in her pajama pant, that the family received the full story of that horrific night. "What happened?" asked Santana. "Rex," responded Noreen.
Rex had been part of the family since September 2007, when the Hawmans rescued him from the Saskatoon SPCA. Santana and Mitch originally had another dog in mind—a fluffy chow-chow mix that ended up showing little interest in the young couple or their 11-month-old daughter, Marley. They were drawn instead to a friendly puppy that was sitting in his kennel, wagging his tail. He sat next to the family for an hour in the visitation room, even allowing Marley to hang on to his neck. Though he was only eight months old, he was calm and well behaved. Rex came home with the Hawmans that day. No one could have predicted that, years later, he'd thank them with an epic act of bravery.
That fateful Christmas Eve, Noreen watched her son's family leave for dinner, then took a sleeping pill and fell asleep on the couch. When the house caught fire, three smoke detectors went off, but she slept through them all, curling herself deeper into the cushions. Rex began barking and pawing at Noreen, trying to rouse her, but the sleeping pill was strong and she simply turned away.
When Noreen didn't respond, Rex's survival instinct kicked in. Though almost nine years old at the time and much slower than he used to be, he found the strength to grab hold of Noreen's pajama leg with his teeth and yank multiple times, dragging her onto the ground. As soon as she hit the floor, she was jolted awake and sprang into action, grabbing the dogs and leading them out the front door. If Rex hadn't persevered, Noreen likely would have been trapped in the fire.
By Boxing Day, the local community had the Hawman family placed in a rental home, and everyone stopped by to pet "the hero dog." His story made the 6 o'clock news and was featured in local papers, which is how the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, an annual event in Toronto honouring pets that have performed life-saving feats, caught wind of Rex's heroic act. He was awarded a medal in May 2016. "It was super emotional," says Santana. "You meet these other fantastic families and their amazing pups, and then you watch your dog walk up there. He's got no idea what's going on, but you're just so proud."
The Hawmans have rebuilt on the site of their former home, and they made sure to take extra precautions when it comes to fire safety: There's a fire extinguisher in the garage, another under the kitchen sink and a third in the upstairs hall closet. They'll never know what caused the fire, which makes it difficult for them to relax, but at least they've got Rex keeping a watchful eye. "Each night, he'll walk around the whole house to see where everybody is before he lies down and goes to sleep," says Santana. "We're his people. He's always with us."
The Purina Animal Hall of Fame is an annual ceremony that recognizes heroic animals from across Canada—to the tune of 172 inductees in its 48 years. The vast majority are dogs, but there have also been feline inductees—and even a horse! This year, in addition to Rex, four other Canadian canines were honoured. Check out their stories here: 4 unbelievably heroic stories of dogs that will make you want to hug your own pooch.
In honour of National Maple Syrup Day on December 17, we're sharing our favourite maple syrup recipes our fellow Canadians are sure to adore.
Our maple syrup usage is typically confined to breakfast time. We pour it on pancakes, waffles and crepes with a heavy hand and are done with it. But, maple syrup is a great natural sweetener that can be added to everything from desserts to savoury dishes.
Go the traditional route and include this Canadian pantry staple in your butter tarts, crispy coconut tuiles, mincemeat turnovers, cookies, fudge, and pudding. Or, take your entrées—like salmon and swiss chard, chicken thighs and couscous, chicken drumsticks and chickpea salad, pork fajitas and short ribs—up a level by cooking the meat in maple syrup.
The best part about adding maple syrup to any meal? You can't really go wrong. But to ensure your dishes are top notch, flip through the slideshows for our favourite tried and truly tested to perfection recipes featuring maple syrup.
Make your own scrumptious custard tarts instead of buying them. This recipe is different than the tradition one you may be used to—it calls for maple syrup instead of corn syrup, and chocolate and pecans instead of raisins.
Get the recipe: Best Maple Butter Tarts
These light and crispy cookies make a lovely holiday gift and they're not hard to make. Achieve the delicate curved shape by simply draping the cookies over a rolling pin while they're still warm.
Get the recipe: Crispy Maple Coconut Tuiles
Coat your brined pork chops in maple syrup and mustard for a sweet and savoury flavour.
Get the recipe: Brined Maple Mustard Pork Chops
Maple syrup and maple-flavoured whisky liqueur bring a touch of Canada to this holiday classic.
Get the recipe: Maple Mincemeat Turnovers
Three different forms of maple—maple extract, maple syrup, and maple sugar—add just the right amount of sweetness to these simple cookies.
Get the recipe: Maple Sandwich Cookies
This classic recipe for dense candy shop-inspired maple fudge will be an instant family favourite.
Get the recipe: Maple Fudge
We've given Korean short ribs a Canadian touch by marinating them in a sweet, tangy blend of balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and Dijon.
Get the recipe: Grilled Maple Short Ribs
This indulgent maple-infused custard is made even sweeter with the addition of a seasonal buttery pear topping.
Get the recipe: Maple Pots de Crème
We've done our country's iconic flavour justice by adding maple to shortbread cookie dough. The cookies are topped off with a syrupy glaze.
Get the recipe: Maple Shortbread
A sticky maple syrup glaze on the pork makes these loaded fajitas slightly sweet and a favourite among kids.
Get the recipe: Maple Mustard Pork Fajitas
Tangy mustard, sweet maple syrup and robust rosemary make the perfect flavour combination for baked squash wedges.
Get the recipe: Maple-Glazed Squash and Sausages
Spicy maple-glazed chicken drumsticks take this salad from dull to delicious.
Get the recipe: Spicy Maple-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks with Crispy Chickpea Salad
Simple pantry ingredients—like maple syrup—make a flavourful sweet-and-sticky glaze for juicy chicken thighs.
Get the recipe: Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs with Lemon Broccoli Couscous
This dessert sings with the all-Canadian taste of real maple syrup.
Get the recipe: Maple Whisky Pudding with Maple Pecans
This classic combination of flavours bring out the best in each other.
Get the recipe: Soy-Maple Glazed Salmon and Swiss Chard
Illustrations by Brendan Fisher | Wood and paint, homedepot.ca | Bedside tables, mattress, duvet, duvet cover and grey cushions, ikea.ca | Canadian Living bed skirt, bedbathandbeyond.ca | Art, jensennagle.com | Flowers, fiorioakville.com Image by: Angus Fergusson
Want to transform the look of your bedroom? Inspired by board-and-batten siding, this headboard looks like a million bucks—on a way smaller budget. It's super simple to build and you can easily customize the size to fit your bed.
- Tape measure
- Table saw or handsaw
- 1/2-inch sheet of MDF
- 1- by 5-inch MDF board
- 1- by 3-inch MDF board
- Several 1- by 4-inch MDF boards
- Wood glue
- Clamps for drying (optional)
- Nail gun and nails
- Caulking gun and caulk
- Paint tray
- Paint roller and paintbrush
- Paint (We used Behr Ultra Pure White 1850)
- Screwdriver and screws
- Wood filler
Measure the width of your bed. Using the saw, cut the sheet (A) so it's 4 inches wider than the bed— this was 57 inches for us—and 66 inches long. (We had ours cut to size at The Home Depot.) Cut the 1- by 5-inch board (B) the same width as the sheet. Cut the 1- by 3-inch board (C) 4 inches longer than the width of the sheet, which was 61 inches for us.
Place the boards horizontally on top of the sheet so they're flush.
Measure from the bottom of the 1- by 5-inch board (B) to the bottom of the sheet. Cut four 1- by 4-inch boards (D) to the same length. Place them vertically equidistant on the sheet.
Create a grid by cutting remaining 1- by 4-inch boards (E) to fit horizontally between the vertical boards.
Glue each board in place on the sheet; let dry. Using the nail gun, secure each board in place. Caulk any edges (if you see gaps); let dry.
Paint the headboard. To make it easier to paint the sides, elevate the sheet on scrap pieces of wood.