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Urban Suburban

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Looking to transform dated space into contemporary, urban real estate? Not sure where to start? Colin and Justin create serious home style in the 'burbs as they transform a kitchen ahead of this weekend's appearance at The GTA Home & Reno Show.

With Toronto's booming housing market struggling to balance supply and demand, many home buyers across the GTA are broadening their horizons and moving to the suburbs. If tempted to follow suit, worry not - your urban dreams can continue in the leafy avenues of suburbia.

Take this compact kitchen for example. Sure, it was entrenched in another era, but boy - did it have potential. In the gloomy zone's favour, a classic 'galley' configuration with ample walk space between both worktop elevations. And it was clean. Spotless, in fact. But the plus points stopped there. Being that our client's ambition was for their style hungry food prep' zone to become a value enhancing modern marvel, there was work to be done.

GUT DOWN

There really wasn't anything to harvest from the kitchen (save for the appliances, which we sent to charity) so we purged the lot then flung everything into the waiting jaws of a hungry dumpster. In went those dilapidated cupboards and those less-than-perfect worktops. And down came that faux brickwork...

WALL COLOUR

As much as our clients were tired of their existing timber detailing, they aspired to a new look that would still be somewhat woodsy, albeit with contemporary allusions. As a backdrop to our adventurous scheme, we decreed that palest beige walls would serve as the perfect finish. It's all about balance, right? Background and foreground, etc. Tip: In kitchens - where splashes and such like are likely - avoid matte latex and opt instead for satin finish paint: it's easier to care for and eminently more washable than the former.

LAY OUT

In the kitchen's favour was its sensible layout. Classic galley style, its builder had at least arranged cabinets in the most sensible way. Recognizing this plus point, we installed new counters and cabinetry using the same footprint as before. This helped with costs as we didn't have to reposition electrics and such like. Aye, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

CABINETRY

Okay, so our redesign - we hope - looks like the result of an indulgent spend. It may surprise you, however, to learn that our contemporary cabinetry came from Ikea http://www.ikea.ca The Swedish giant's range is great value and this collection, as costs go, is outstanding. The grainy veneer and crisp overall design notes make it a definite winner. And, for clients who expressly hoped for an organic edge, it fitted the bill perfectly.

WORKTOPS

With sufficient wood notes via cabinetry, we dodged butcher's block counters and specified square cut palest cream CaesarStone http://www.caesarstone.ca as the perfect finishing touch. Often less expensive than many marble or granite, it's nonetheless stylish and easy to maintain.

WALL TILE

To imbue our scheme with further textural interest, we opted for this subtle muted beige product from Saltillo Tiles http://www.saltillo-tiles.com We love mosaic, but on this occasion chose subway alternative as the product was such good value. Many top-end marble or stone suppliers produce similar wares but, with auspicious shopping, you'll find ceramic options that will look great and withstand the rigours of busy kitchen traffic.

FRENCH DOORS

Stop that. Right now. There's 'nature inspired' design, and there's plain bonkers. And, as far as these 'tree' doors were concerned, we definitely thought the latter. They were so not cutting it as far as our clients - or we - were concerned. So they were carefully unscrewed and, without further ado, sent to the Canadian Museum of Extreme Bad Taste. Okay, we made that last bit up. In fact, riddled as they were with woodworm, they went straight to the dumpster.

FLOORING

Creamy beige slab tiles, arranged in a grid pattern from door to garden, create the illusion that limited floor space is larger than it is. They also proffer a contemporary look that's more interesting than standard square lay. These porcelain tiles are 'off the shelf' but if you're buying real marble or granite 'by the sheet' it shouldn't cost much more to specify that tiles are cut into this modern template. Much of today's shaping is done by computerized laser, and so, setting 'virtual jigs' to cut rectangles instead of squares should be a breeze. Get ready to grumble if you're quoted a different price!

Information, we suppose, is power - not least when it comes to property development - so ensure you're fully informed (and adequately tooled up) before tackling any future renovations. To further assist, we're appearing at The GTA Home and Reno Show this weekend, where we'll be discussing the kind of issues we regularly discuss right here in the Huff. And we'll be revealing our top design tips, any of which would help transform even the dullest home, in a keynote entitled 'Sexing Up The Suburbs'.

With the weather as hit and miss as it's been, you'll be warm and snug indoors, shopping the city's 'high street' under one rain (and snow!) proof roof.

And you'll have the opportunity to soak up inspiration from some of Canada's top TV design fraternity. At the Casalife Main Stage, for example, contractor Damon Bennett (ex of the Mike Holmes franchise) will be talking about 'Staying/Being Safe During Your Home Reno', whilst Cityline's DIY queen Leigh-Ann Allaire Perreault, will be doling out fantastic ideas to make the best of your home on a daily basis.

Add to this a whole host of decorating, gardening and building exhibitors and the event promises to prepare you for whatever your new project can throw at you! Whether urban or suburban, small project or full scale demo', your next reno' starts here!

Join Huffington Post's Colin & Justin at the GTA Home & Reno Show on Saturday February 18th, 1pm - at the International Centre, Mississauga. Show runs from Friday 17- 20 https://gtahomeandrenoshow.com

Those doors are definitely a nasty hobbit... The dated kitchen before

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Seamless stone surfaces create an infinity effect that elongates the feel of this compact space

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Taking a balanced approach with kitchen cabinetry creates a clean and comfortable aesthetic

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An integrated Fisher & Paykel dishdrawer is a valuable space saver

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