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Home & Design Favourite Room: A kitchen designed to be ‘the hub of our home’

Amanda Riva plays with her son, Hugo, in the kitchen of her newly renovated home on Inglewood Drive in Toronto.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

When Amanda Riva, husband Giorgio and son Hugo moved into their north Toronto home after a renovation and restoration, Riva was looking both forward and back. “Our goal in redoing the whole house was to restore it to how, I believe, it probably looked when it was first built,” Riva says. “We didn’t gut it and make a big, open, modern home,” she says. Instead, they maintained the original rooms and added back the plaster crown moulding and wainscoting detailing, along with some new touches. “Our architect [Charles Bunker] laughed that we took the house down to the studs, ripped off the back and literally put the entire house back together,” Riva says. But the result is a “forever family home” that they can grow into. “I really have no intention of leaving.”

The kitchen was a new addition, and Riva, who’s the founder of THP, a marketing and content production company for food and beverage brands, insisted it be functional, beautiful and a centre of activity. “We were going for a fresh, bright, inviting space that is truly the hub of our home.” While her company is expanding, opening an office in New York this month, Riva says the expansion of their family (Hugo is three) and the move into the renovated space encouraged greater work-life balance. “It forced my husband and I to really gain a sense of perspective around how we were managing our time and the fulfillment we were getting out of every aspect of life.”

Among the things Riva loves are the beautiful light, the pantry, the cozy banquette and fixtures, such as the custom-belted range hood.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

Riva, being in the food business, loves to cook and host, making the kitchen a favourite space. With its updated appliances, ample storage, counter space and built-in banquette – which comfortably holds 12, Riva says – it’s proved a fun alternative to the more traditional dining room. The banquette was a must-have according to Riva, whose family home in Ottawa fondly sported one as well. “It was our favourite thing as a family on weekend mornings to curl into that, sometimes sitting there for two or three hours, just chit-chatting as a family,” she says.

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Hugo explores the pantry, which features antique Egyptian iron work.

Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

Rosedale Kitchens helped create the custom banquette, with its spill resistant marine-grade pebbled leather seating, along with all the cabinetry, pantry design and range hood. The latter is a statement piece, built around a Vent-A-Hood insert – Riva’s favourite because of its quietness. Additional storage and the pantry (the house’s original kitchen), half-hidden behind elegantly carved Egyptian doors from the Door Store in Toronto, ensure the counters stay quiet too. “I’ve never been a big clutter person.”

She prefers to punctuate the counters with colour, delivered via a suite of beloved smaller appliances. The Creuset kettle has been with her for 11 years, and the Dualit toaster – in a heritage hue – was a moving gift from her parents. “If there’s one country that knows how to make toast properly …” says Riva, referring to the Britain-based brand. “Because it doesn’t actually pop up, it keeps it down, so your toast stays warm when you forget about it.”

Madeleine chairs from Restoration Hardware, artwork featuring baby artichokes from West Elm, island lanterns from Visual Comfort & Co. and unlacquered raw brass pulls complete the look, giving the space a fresh and timeless appeal. “I love it today, I’m sure I will love it 15 years from now,” says Riva referring to the pulls, used not just in the kitchen but throughout the house, which will patinate with time. “It’ll age naturally as the house does.”

Get the Look


Madeleine side chair, $195 at Restoration Hardware (


E.F. Chapman Darlana 4-Light 17-Inch gilded iron with wax foyer lantern ceiling light, $629 at Visual Comfort & Co. (


Moebe Floating Leaves 04 print and frame, $160 at Örling & Wu (


Q-203 Queslett Pull, US$99.97 at Horton Brasses, Inc. (


Le Creuset Classic whistling kettle, $120 at Indigo (

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