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Creating a Kitchen to Dine For

06/05/2015 12:23 EDT | Updated 06/05/2016 05:59 EDT
Colin & Justin

Applying a little "condo logic" helps create the perfect cottage kitchen, say Colin and Justin. Especially when space is tight. But first, they visit a local pottery to channel their inner Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze...

As interior designers and all-around visionaries, we constantly strive to see things differently: we're obsessed by the way in which change can alter the quality of life in every domestic (or for that matter commercial) project we tackle. And in the kitchen -- the undisputed heart of most client homes -- quality of life is paramount.

None of our paymasters wish to flounder at the nucleus of their own "kitchen sink drama," which is precisely why, we suppose, they call us. Whether grand scale or tiny, we've "corrected" literally hundreds of kitchens -- in various styles -- during over 20 years at our drawing boards.

Where square footage elasticity is concerned, we like to think we can conjure the best from even the most spatially challenged room. Take, for instance the kitchen, as we found it, in our formerly slanty shanty: the renovation of which is featured each week during Cabin Pressure on Cottage Life television.

Due to the original 850 square feet nature of the entire cottage, we decided to apply a little "condo logic" and treat it like a loft apartment, cast adrift by the lake. Our first job was to dismantle the walls (having satisfied ourselves they weren't load bearing) that previously boxed in the kitchen. This immediately opened the space to the main, double height living area.

Open concept is big news in condoville, but that feeling of connection and spaciousness can work similarly well at the cottage, especially if proportions are tight. With limited space to go right or left, we went "up" with a tall rear elevation of affordably-priced Ikea cabinetry which bounces light back into the main room.

This done, we added a second run of cabinets topped with "concrete" Caesarstone which serves double duty as a worktop and breakfast bar courtesy of the 12-inch projection which passes beyond the cabinetry's outside line. Planned, cut and fitted by House of Granite, the results are slick and give guests somewhere to gather as we cook up a storm.

The teak "mid-century" stools are reproduction pieces from the team at MFKTO Constructed from solid lumber, they're among the comfiest we've ever found, their rich tone serving as a beautiful compliment to the ceiling and the various chopping boards on the counter above.

So where are the appliances? Well, in a nutshell, most are integrated. Our logic is simple: when space is tight, the less technology on display the better. Built-in appliances go hand in hand with this look -- we opted for an Electrolux induction cooktop, with a matching same marque oven positioned below. Clever streamlining optimizes every inch and creates a modern, tailored aesthetic. And function isn't limited -- our plan proffers ample cooking space without a bulky, standout cooker.

Even our fridge/freezer and garbage bin are hidden behind tall cabinet doors -- either side of the Blanco under counter sink. The Electrolux dishwasher (which sits to the right of the stove) boasts a simple feature that never fails to tickle guests: "cycle time remaining" projection onto the floor below. The sight of a blue light digital clock is enough to work our pals into a frenzy, especially after a stiff Scotch. What's more, the energy efficient and capable dishwasher is whisper quiet -- great news in an open concept space. Detail, right? It's crucial, in the world of C and J.

As final "counter-scaping," we remained on red alert with a snappy red coffee machine from Nespresso, and a cute reproduction vintage 'This Is A Good Sign' wall plaque from Urban Barn. And hey: check out the dramatic light fitting: sourced at Morba on Queen West, it showers the stove with illumination while being a fun talking point when guests arrive.

Picking up on the jet framed glazing program that punctuates the cottage's every elevation is a tall black framed tilt and turn window/door from Euro Vinyl Windows. Its installation continues our modern monochrome colour story and provides an extra entrance portal, ideal for bringing groceries straight into the kitchen. When it comes to increasing perceived space, there's no better way than installing glass where dark walls once prevailed.

Continuity of flooring from space to space is also sound "condo logic", and, courtesy of wide plank oak boards laid lengthwise from the front of the house to the rear, the floor's infinity feeling (as it transitions from room to room) suggests ampler scale. We opted for warm tone oak, Barbican by Kentwood to warm the white walls and its installation serves to effectively ground the entire main level.

During the reno, we visited Debbie Wales and her partner Grahame (the "Hairy Potter" as he's known locally due to his huge beard) to try our hands at pot throwing. Honestly, if you're in the Haliburton area, book a Fun With Clay class or just go shopping at -- the studio. They have awesome stuff. And Grahame and Debbie are fun tutors. Let's just say that, during the episode, we reenact the famous Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze Ghost moment. Only our scene is a little messier. Suffice to say, we now have a collection of "made by us" bowls, each of which serves as a perfect reminder of our time at the studio.

If life at the cottage kitchen truly is about sharing, who wants to be shut away in a cramped, dark space feeling annexed and alone with nothing but a mountain of washing up for company? Come on: swap out those soapy dish bubbles for a bottle of, erm, bubbly. Now that that's sorted. Without further ado, break out the 'Bolly' (it'll help clear your mind so you can scheme properly), tear down those walls and start planning that brand new kitchen...

Cabin Pressure, Sundays, 9 p.m. on Cottage Life. Watch previous episodes online.

Our compact cottage kitchen really was a kitchen sink drama...

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The dividing wall has gone... and so has everything else!

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Reinstatement complete -- let's get a kitchen in there...

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Concrete and white clearly defined against the warm timber ceiling and flooring

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Built in appliances create a modern feel

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