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The Globe and Mail

Sarah Richardson: Less wall, more kitchen

Renovating an older home yields space and beauty

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Buying a house is a huge financial investment, but for most of us, it’s also an emotional investment. It’s that very intangible aspect that drew my clients to make an against-all-odds purchase of an old house in need of a lot of love. After months of dust, unexpected surprises and renovation chaos, the payoff was delivered in the form of a big, open kitchen outfitted with all the fixings on their wish list.

Photos by Stacey Brandford

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Old houses are generally comprised of a series of smaller rooms, not always in keeping with how people want to live today. This house had four separate rooms on the ground floor, and a cramped kitchen, so the first step was to combine the kitchen and the dining area into one open-plan room. Making structural changes and removing an entire wall to redefine how the spaces work isn’t cheap, but it gave us a wide-open space to work with.

Stacey Brandford

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Lots of people like the idea of an island that is a contrast colour, so it stands out from the main cabinetry finish on the perimeter cabinets. For more than a decade, the popular accent finish has been coffee-inspired with shades of espresso stain topping the popularity charts. My clients said they loved blue, so I opted to embrace a rich cobalt scheme and painted the standard door fronts on the island in a rich, deep hue (with a semi-gloss finish) to create a one-of-a-kind island that sets the tone for the whole room.

Stacey Brandford

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Stacey Brandford

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Most kitchen companies automatically assume that you want everything in your kitchen connected. I am the exception to the norm. I do not like to have the cabinets look like they are glued to the ceiling and always prefer to leave a “shadow line” (the gap between where the crown for the cabinets stops and the ceiling starts).

Stacey Brandford

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No matter how big or small your kitchen is, clearances are always at a premium and every inch is needed to maintain flow and free access. Keeping the radiators in their original locations under the windows stole precious floor space and affected the overall dimensions of our island. Since the basement was unfinished below the kitchen, we simply relocated the pipes to facilitate the installation of a new, slim profile rad that tucks under the far end of the island, keeping it out of sight and out of the way, while still keeping the room cozy and warm.

Stacey Brandford

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Stacey Brandford

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The finishing touch on the island is a custom base that’s fashioned from brass bar rail components that helps bring a bit of restaurant chic home.

Stacey Brandford

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Stacey Brandford

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