Crammed into the back corner of an early 1980’s waterfront condominium in James Bay, this dark and inefficient kitchen was desperate for a complete overhaul. With one narrow entrance and a solid wall blocking all natural light, the kitchen was neither functional nor appealing. The clients credit Terri Wills, kitchen and bath designer at MAC Renovations Ltd, for opening up the space to the rest of the condo, creating an efficient kitchen layout while capturing water views and flooding the space with natural light. With a puzzling layout, the angular ground floor unit sat on the real estate market for approximately two years, with unsuccessful price reductions to entice a buyer.
“No one was brave enough to face the design challenge,” says Wills. Greeted by a series of hallways as you enter the condo, windows were hidden from view until you went through and entered the cramped living area. For clients bold enough to buy the fixer-upper, their primary request was to bring more natural light to the home and to create an open-plan concept with a functional kitchen.
MAC Renovations was up for the challenge and designed a sun-drenched traditional kitchen with careful consideration given to functionality and layout. Whether you are preparing a holiday meal or a simple summer salad, thought needs to be given to the counter space in a compact kitchen.
Some designers, with a propensity for math, recommend a working kitchen have just over 13 feet (158 inches) of usable counter space. With ample counter space, this L-shaped kitchen boasts a natural work triangle with specific work zones and a designated eat-in kitchen space at the island. The cooktop built into the island faces the dining area and allows the chef to socialize while cooking.
To make every inch in this small space count, it was important for the owners to include a pantry for storage. “Close to the food prep/landing zone area, the pantry is conveniently close to the fridge and the across from the cooktop. Creating distinct work zones, the clean up area (sink and dishwasher) were completely pulled out of the proverbial work triangle and kept close to the entrance to the kitchen for easy access,” says Wills.
Hardworking and stylish, the solid maple island includes a 3-seat eat-in area, an x-style wine rack and additional drawers on the side and back for storage. Next to the full-bodied, deep marsala hue of the statement wall, the custom stained maple island in “chocolate” anchors the space and offers a classic, inviting feel.
One major design challenge was the intrusive structural post in the middle of the compact kitchen. “My design originally had the island orientated to come off the post lengthwise, with the end of the island stretching toward the dining room. But with very little space in this direction, I had to swing the island around to incorporate the structural post,” Wills states.
Clad in a white ledgestone, merging tones with the backsplash, the post blends as a design feature providing texture and warmth. The tile setter meticulously hand chiseled the corners of the column to create a seamless look to the edges. Installing the ceiling hood fan over the island cooktop in a solid concrete ceiling proved to be another substantial design test. Wills states that “in order to secure the hood fan to something, the ceiling had to be dropped and plywood applied for attachment purposes. The drop ceiling also allowed for the hood fan venting to move across the ceiling to the back corner where the original venting exited the building.”