I love collaborating with high-end builders in creating beautiful homes. For a project by Mount Royal Developments in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, our challenge was to design a stately experience on a limited budget.
As always, the kitchen is an anchor point and key to a home’s desirability – its impression sets the aesthetic foundation for the rest of the house. So naturally, it was one of the first rooms we designed. Here’s what we did.
The big idea
Mount Pleasant is an area that’s attractive to young families, but to buy into it requires relatively deep pockets. Buyers are looking for value, and a home they can imagine themselves residing in for many years to come.
Because the kitchen opens to the family room and the dining room is just a few paces away, we felt it important that it have a formality to it – something proud and elegant alongside the more casual and eclectic family space.
Our team set out to create a space that felt sophisticated, but with the freshness and quirk required to attract a younger demographic.
For the all-important kitchen, we had to be clever. We swapped the popular (and predictable) white shaker-style cabinets for a more decorative kitchen that would appeal to traditionalists. But rather than the usual ivory, we chose a more interesting colour scheme of dove grey and navy. The beautiful decorative hardware adds sparkle and depth to the grey tones.
The big spend
In any kitchen, there are two areas that are always worth more consideration in your budget – cabinetry and appliances.
All the cabinetry was custom-designed, and we spent extra for floor-to-ceiling millwork, which allows for added storage and emphasizes the home’s stately personality.
We also wrapped the cabinetry around the corner and into the hallway, creating a beautiful display cabinet with linen storage below. This helps integrate the kitchen into the entire experience of the main floor, and definitely seduced the buyer who ultimately purchased the home.
The other big chunk of money went towards the appliance package. Beautiful and higher-end appliances help emphasize the builder’s commitment to constructing a quality home. Looking at comparable properties in the neighbourhood, we found many had opted for entry level appliances, which often look clunky and generic. We decided on package from GE Monogram – lower-priced than premium brands like Viking or Wolfe, but better quality and superior in design than lesser makes.
The big save
Because cost savings were a priority, we had to think a bit differently about this particular design process. We knew our builder had an excess of tile left over from previous projects, so we asked for samples and an inventory.
We also discovered our flooring vendor had surplus material he was looking to clear out – at a good price. (We needed about 1300 square feet.) It was like a treasure hunt – selecting the best finishes and choosing what we needed. Ultimately, we went with a hand-cut and glazed ceramic tile for the kitchen backsplash, and a graphite coloured herringbone floor. Recovering two high-end finishes from excess stock saved us thousands of dollars.
An overly refined interior can feel alienating and interfere with someone’s ability to imagine themselves living in the space.
We decided early on to avoid anything fancy for the lighting and plumbing fixtures (crystal chandeliers). We felt the design was pretty enough already with the decorative cabinetry, French-inspired wall details, high baseboard and crown mouldings. So we sought out soft industrial-looking fixtures to inspire a more utilitarian character in the space.
Above the kitchen island we used British Designer Tom Dixon for his pressed-glass pendant lights. (I love his stuff!) Their chunky proportions and black details work well in juxtaposition to the kitchen’s classical nature, making the room feel fresh and interesting.
For the sink, we avoided the two-hole pedestal style faucet you’d expect to see in this type of kitchen, and chose instead a professional spray model. Far more practical for washing dishes, the faucet’s sleek profile also helps add modern character to a traditional-leaning space.
Kitchen cabinets: Tinman CL3232W, General Paint, www.generalpaint.com
Island: Tax Day CL3097N, General Paint, www.generalpaint.com
Walls: Placid CL3231W, General Paint, www.generalpaint.com
Trim and ceiling: Winter White OC21, Benjamin Moore, www.benjaminmoore.ca
Pendant lights, Tom Dixon Tube, Inform Interiors, www.informinteriors.com
Hardware, Campaign pull, Restoration Hardware, www.restorationhardware.com
Appliances, Monogram, General Electric, www.monogram.com
Faucet, Wizard, Aquabrass, www.aquabrass.com
Stools, Dalfred, IKEA, www.ikea.ca