Small spaces are always a design challenge, and the goal is to make even the smallest space look lofty and open. I recently partnered with Whirlpool Canada for a tiny footprint kitchen refresh, and I was tasked with creating a functional, efficient kitchen for a busy, growing family who loves to cook and entertain. My goal was to design a smarter kitchen for my clients through practical design updates and functional appliances, without sacrificing style.
Countertops – The space already had relatively newer countertops that they wanted to salvage and reuse; when this is possible, it’s a massive saving! The existing countertops were black with flecks of greys, browns, taupes, and served as our starting point in the design process.
The ENGINE of the Kitchen – Once you’ve found the starting point for the project, in this case, the countertop colour, it’s time to get to work. The appliances are the main engine of any kitchen, so choosing the right style, colour and functionality are key. For this space, I needed to play off the black countertops, so this naturally led me to a Whirlpool black stainless-steel suite. Whirlpool appliances are designed with busy families in mind, allowing them to better care for their families. Knowing how important cooking is for this family, I wanted to give them appliances that had practical and useful technology that families will actually use. Historically, stainless steel got a bad rep as it was challenging to keep clean, so it wasn’t something I’d recommend for clients with children. But the fingerprint-resistant finishes hide fingerprints and smudges, and easily wipes clean, which is key for busy young families.
Ease of Grilling – I love the cool features that Whirlpool appliances now offer to help ease regular household chores and duties. The Smart Slide-in Electric Range with Frozen Bake™ Technology was key for my clients. It has a 'control from anywhere' feature that allows you to multitask with the Whirlpool App. If you're busy bathing the kids but need to preheat the oven, turn to the Whirlpool App on your smartphone or tablet and start it remotely. Not only that, but you can adjust the temperature with the Keep Warm Technology so it's heated up and ready to cook when you are. Get instant access to the settings you use most with a touchscreen that learns, adapts and suggests customized presets based on your family's routines, plus it's located at the front of the range, so no more reaching to the back over hot burners – safety and innovation in one!
Keeping it Chilled - In a small space, I love to introduce a French Door Refrigerator; the dual opening, side by side doors allow you to open the fridge without blocking the entire space. And the features are amazing – everything from tuck away shelving to make space for larger items, spillproof shelves that keep leaks contained, and adjustable door bins that let you decide where they get positioned to maximize your space. All these features make life for a family easier.
Clean-up Crew – With a growing family, a full-size dishwasher is non-negotiable. My clients had an apartment-sized dishwasher before this refresh. While the inclusion of the Stainless Steel Tub Dishwasher with Total Coverage Spray Arm did mean giving up some cabinet space, it was well worth it. Built-in soil sensors automatically get the right wash cycle and dry setting for each load, and a 1-hour wash cycle can clean plates, pans and glasses thoroughly. For a busy family, and one for loves to cook, that’s a huge bonus! And we were able to compensate for lost storage space with taller upper cabinets and the addition of a pantry next to the fridge, addressing one of the family’s biggest concerns – not enough storage space!
Cabinets Cost – A big cost in a kitchen renovation is cabinets. In this case, some of the cabinets were in good shape, so we decided to keep the lower cabinets as they were to create a trendy wood colour palette for a two-toned kitchen look. All we had to do was update them with new hardware. While we kept the lowers, we opted for replacing the upper cabinets. The uppers were replaced with a hardware-free, glossy white, flat front style. The gloss on these allows the light to bounce off them, creating the illusion of a larger space. Choosing to go without hardware kept the lines clean and simple, allowing the eye to travel over them.
Colour Continuity – A little paint can go a long way to transform a room and is very cost-efficient. This house is an open concept, so we had to paint the entire main floor for a better visual flow. It was a pretty extensive paint job, including the kitchen, dining room and the entire first floor! A new coat of paint gave the entire space a fresh, clean look. Especially since we brought in white stark gloss cabinets, we wanted the walls to simply blend in.
A Splash of Colour – Another key to a sophisticated kitchen and an element that can make a huge design impact is tile. For this space, I went with a funky glass pattern backsplash from The Good Tile. My clients love to cook, so these tiles were perfect as there is no grout needed for installing, making them easier to clean. The glass retro backsplash is a true wow factor that draws your eye in creating more depth in this small space with another reflective material for more light to bounce off.
Let’s Eat – In the dining space, we created a gorgeous picture wall with some of the clients’ favourite pieces of art. An antique sideboard was a perfect complement to the clients’ retro-style and ideal for additional storage so the table can be kept clean and open. The colour of their existing table and chairs was a perfect tie in with the upper cabinets for continuity.
The Finishing - The final touches in this kitchen that tied everything together were the cabinet handles, lighting and the faucet. The cabinets had outdated handles, and I found replacement handles in black that took the cabinets to a whole new level of sophistication. The lighting was replaced and went from functional to an integral part of the beauty that faded into the space rather than made a distraction. And the faucet is stunning! This sleek black faucet has every feature you can imagine from a pull-down nozzle to spray options, but it’s the design that makes it a showstopper.
When we started this kitchen, we were looking to do an appliance upgrade and a facelift, but the result was way more than the family could imagine. In small city dwellings, when you can’t change the footprint of a space, some clever attention to detail can make even the smallest space feel grand.