Kitchen of the Week: Gray Cabinets, Mixed Metals and Italian Love

Bold white, soft gray, touches of wood and brass, and a European-style coffee station enliven a new kitchen.


Kitchen at a Glance
Location: Toronto
Size: 325 square feet (30 square meters); 25 by 13 feet

Before. For a Toronto couple with two college-age daughters, their 1990s white melamine cabinet kitchen and average appliances didn’t suit their love of cooking and entertaining. They hired a designer to help make it special while staying true to the Georgian architectural style of the house.


After. An 8½-by-2½-foot island provides space for people to gather around and chat or help with food prep. An overhang at one end makes room for counter stools for casual dining and entertaining.

The actual footprint of the kitchen didn’t change, but the designer removed the drop ceiling and created a flat ceiling, adding crown moulding to give a sense of additional height and reflect the Georgian style of the home. Caesarstone countertops and painted wood cabinets add a European feel. They chose Caesarstone because “it doesn’t require maintenance and these people really use their kitchen. And I loved the veining on this particular stone.”

Calacatta Nuvo countertops: Caesarstone


Before. The homeowners thought the white cabinets, floor tile, sink and appliances were not dynamic. They wanted a more interesting mix of materials and textures.


After. Now a mix of metals in the cabinet hardware, pendant lights, shelves, stools and appliances join more varied surfaces and textures in the floor and backsplash tile and the countertop and cabinet surfaces.

A wide 38 inches of space between the island and the cabinets allows for easy traffic flow. Moving the doorway to the left provided more space for cabinetry and a generous-size espresso station.


Coffee station. During the couple’s travels to Italy, the husband loved his experiences in coffee bars and cafes, which inspired this coffee station. Custom-made open shelves of walnut and polished brass display treasures from the husband’s collection of mocha pots, as well as mugs and other items used every day, and echo the brass touches in the lighting and hardware.

Brushed brass drawer pulls and other cabinet hardware: Emtek; 3-by-6-inch subway tile: Saltillo Imports

Cabinets. One of the biggest challenges they encountered was finding the perfect shade of gray for the wood cabinets. “I didn’t want a medium or dark gray,” she says. “I wanted a soft hint of gray. It took me quite a few samples to get to this gray.”


Paint color: Mennonite Grey, Para

Previous homeowners added an extension to the house years before these owners purchased it. During the renovation, they uncovered the brick, which was part of the old outside wall of the house. “We decided to go with it and honor the history of the home,” she says. She created space next to the wall for the bar area and wine fridge the clients wanted.


They struggled with how to finish the edges where the brick wall meets the drywall, until he settled on allowing for slightly rough edges and a less-than-perfect seam. The countertop above the wine fridge is secured into the drywall.


Porcelain tile flooring has “a polished concrete sensibility to it, but in a warmer way,” she says. The homeowners fell in love with the large-scale tiles, laid in a half-drop, or half-brick, pattern. They chose the pendant lights because she liked the glass. “Your eye travels through them so they don’t interfere with the sightlines,” she says. The brass touches on the pendant lights and counter stools echo the brass hardware throughout.


Floor tile: Ceragres

Dining area. A kitchen dining area was high on the homeowners’ wish list. The table belonged to the client’s mother; they found the table, an heirloom piece, in the basement and fell in love with its octagon shape. She bought new chairs to surround it, which are upholstered but also have slipcovers for easy washing. She added the rattan chair — “I always like that odd little element,” she says — to bring in the wood from the walnut shelves above the coffee station.


The gallery wall is a collection of photos from the family’s travels mixed with drawings by the couple’s daughters. The whimsical light fixture above the traditional table was “a way to shake things up a little bit and add a modern element,” She says.

Hanging light fixture: Renwil 

All available at KitchenEXPO!!

As seen on HOUZZ.
Written by Kathleen McCleary