Canadian actor Greg Bryk has made a career of playing bad guys – the kidnapper Abel in Weirdsville, the machine gun-toting commando in The Incredible Hulk, and the alpha werewolf in Bitten, the Canadian TV series in which he currently stars. But when it comes to his Toronto kitchen, the born-and-bred Winnipegger is good – really good – at whipping up delicious meals for his family of five. "Food is grounding to me. I love when I can make a meal for my kids from scratch. That's very real to me," says the alumnus of the Stratford Festival's Birmingham Conservatory and New York's Circle in the Square Theatre School. His wife of 20 years, HGTV reno-queen Danielle Bryk, designed the kitchen especially for him, taking into consideration her multitasking husband's tendency to move fast and furious as he chops garlic, drinks a glass of red wine and listens to the opera playing full blast while cooking. The open-concept design evolved as the couple modernized their 1920s semi in the Beach, a former rooming house that Bryk says was in such bad shape that "there were eight raccoons living in it." Their bank refused to mortgage it at first, deeming the building uninhabitable. Securing the home only became possible when the DIY Network stepped in and said they'd create a television series around them doing their own home makeover. This Bryk House, as the show became known, showed the family finding happiness amid the chaos. And that wasn't acting. "The kitchen is like my therapy," its chief cook pronounces. "It's where I feel most connected to life."
The prep space "It's made of a single piece of stainless steel and is seamless. I chop on it; it's super easy to keep clean. I'm a messy cook. Danielle can come in and the kitchen will look like a crime scene, and then we wipe it clean in a minute."
The stove "For me, an industrial-grade gas stove is critical. I like fire. I like to control the elements and I like the smell of things cooking. To me, it's really primal. I like to see the flame."
The beam "That's one of my favourite things. When Danielle opened up what used to be an old pantry we discovered this original support arch. I love the character and charm of old wood. It has a story. This is like an art piece that draws your heart and eye into the backyard."
The sign "I'm a Leo. I've always loved lions. I just have an affinity for them. When I was in Africa filming The Book of Negroes, I went on safari and saw lions. I sent Danielle pictures of them every day, and coincidentally, one day, as she was looking at them, she was in a salvage store in Toronto where the only letters left spelled the word lion. She bought them, painted them red and had them mounted for me when I got home. It's her love letter to me."
The island "Danielle designed that for me, knowing how I like to move around a lot when I'm in the kitchen. It's the hub of life: I organize meals on it, the kids eat their breakfast around it, I write on it when I am preparing a screenplay. It floats – it's not bolted down. When we have parties and the space demands it we can move it."
The chairs "They are bar stools made of sheet metal. Danielle chose them. She likes to bring a grounded industrial feel to her interior design work. I love them."
The flooring "When we first did this room, the floors were dark hardwood. That had been my choice, and Danielle hated it. We have two large dogs as well as three kids, and those floors showed everything. They looked destroyed. When I was off filming again, Danielle redid the kitchen without me knowing and I came back to these lighter floors. She had sanded them down and revarnished them. I think they're great, better than what I had chosen. They open the room up. With the natural light shining on them, they look so soothing."