Jackie VanDerMeulen and Stewart Thom lived in their semi-detached east Toronto home for three years before it was time for their scruffy, storage-challenged kitchen to go. Stuck in a ’90s time warp and suffering from lots of wasted space, it featured shabby maple cabinetry and a terracotta-tiled backsplash, countertop and floor. The busy couple – both lawyers and parents to Arthur, 2, and Graeme, 9 months – sought a more functional, open-concept kitchen suitable for raising their children and entertaining friends, a common request by young families. But thanks to designer Rebecca Hay, the warm and eclectic results are decidedly unique. A mix of traditional and clean-lined elements, a high-contrast colour palette, vintage touches and hits of wood create an inviting kitchen with covetable character that’s a far cry from its dated start.
By tearing down the wall between the kitchen and living-dining area, designer Rebecca Hay created the large open space this couple desired. “We entertain a lot, and my husband is a big cook,” says homeowner Jackie VanDerMeulen. “Now he can be part of the action when company’s over.”
The mosaic marble backsplash, made of Thassos and Carrara marbles, creates a luxurious setting and adds interest with its timeless chevron pattern. “It matches the sleek quartz countertops and seamless white sink,” says Rebecca, who’s a big fan of running a backsplash all the way to the ceiling. “It creates the illusion that the whole wall behind the cabinetry is tiled.” The contrasting colour scheme of indigo blue and warm whites, with hits of yellow and brass, helps establish an airy and inviting aesthetic.
An empty wall provided an unexpected opportunity to build a hard-working pantry complete with a broom closet, pullout shelves, cupboards for small appliances and lesser-used items, as well as a spot for the fridge. “But we discovered there was space between the exterior wall and interior framing,” says Rebecca. “So we moved some ductwork and consolidated the HVAC where the plumbing is and gained about 10 inches of extra space, which allowed us to create ample storage.”
The floating shelves enhance the kitchen’s airiness and tie in with the other wooden elements in the room, adding an industrial note. “They have that nice raw edge,” says Jackie. The Roman shade complements the colour scheme and presents some playful pattern alongside the chevron-tiled backsplash.