Designer Yanic Simard
loved the layout of his 12- by seven-foot galley kitchen. "The advantage of a small kitchen is that everything is always within reach," says Simard. Less than lovable, however, was the laminate wood cabinetry and brown-flecked granite countertop, neither of which complemented the contemporary palette and polished decor of the rest of his Toronto Victorian. "It was the last room to renovate," he says. But instead of starting from scratch, Simard made colour the main ingredient, painting the existing cabinetry a bold blue. A few strategic switch-outs—new appliances and bistro-chic marble surfaces—and some gold accents added the needed dash of spice. The dramatic results show that even a small-scale reno can elevate your kitchen from reliable standby to gourmet fare.
Why keep the galley-style layout? Yanic Simard:
I really like galley kitchens
because they're functional. And I like the efficiency of smaller spaces: The fridge is on one end, the stove on the other, and you do your thing in the middle. Plus, the existing laminate cabinetry, installed about five years ago by the previous owners, was in good shape. CL:
How did you tackle the painting of the cabinets? YS:
It could be a DIY project
if you're really good at painting. I'm not, so I sent the doors and drawer fronts out to be professionally refinished. I wanted that smooth factory finish that spray-painting gives, and those were the two surfaces that had to be perfect. The cabinet bases were painted on-site with conventional paintbrushes and rollers. CL:
Why did you get rid of the granite? YS:
I hated the colour and speckled pattern, and it's fairly easy to remove. Often, granite is glued to a plywood base, and you can just pry the counter off without damaging the cabinetry. CL:
Is marble a practical choice for a kitchen?
YS: Marble is like a piece of clothing: If you drop tomato sauce on it, it's better that you wash it sooner rather than later. With this Statuarietto marble, they app-lied a new "impregnating sealer" called Dry-Treat. Instead of just sitting on the surface, it penetrates the stone to protect against stains. After that, it's not hard to maintain if it's regularly cleaned with product specifically designed for marble surfaces. CL:
How did you make the most of the marble splurge? YS:
For impact, I really wanted to draw the eye to the marble's veining, so it starts on the counter and continues up the backsplash for a continuous, smooth look. I installed smoked mirror at both ends so that it frames this blue-and-white feature. I love symmetry. The mirror also reflects the light from the window and door opposite. CL:
How did you choose your appliances for the space? YS:
The opening for the stove was 24 inches, not the standard 30. It's so hard to find a 24-inch model in stainless steel
! I finally found one with a convection oven, glass top and all the nice features. I got the matching fridge, which is a 24-inch counter-depth, so it doesn't stick out like the old one. These taller and narrower European appliances are an emerging trend, but you still have to do some homework to find them. CL:
Why opt out of the conventional double-basin sink?
YS: I didn't want to give up counter space, and I had to keep it within the span of the existing two-door cabinet below. The square design of the basin continues the room's linear look. CL:
Where did the idea for the gold hardware come from? YS:
I like mixing metals; I think it brings interest to a small kitchen
. I had the existing pulls electro-plated in a brassy finish so we could use the same holes in the cabinetry. To keep the gold theme going between the stainless-steel fridge and stove (symmetry again!), I installed the brass faucet. The wine rack is gold, and the chairs at the bistro table are blackened brass. The mix jazzes it up, but you have to keep it balanced. CL:
How do you achieve that balance? YS:
In terms of visual impact, the split here reads 50/50 brass and stainless steel. Generally, I advise sticking to one metal, mainly, and accentuating with another. A disproportionate mix is harder to mess up; you need a bit of an eye to keep an even split interesting.
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