08/21/2012 12:04 EDT | Updated 10/21/2012 05:12 EDT

When Kids Take Over, It's Time for Parents to Reclaim the Kitchen

Flickr: NicoleAbalde

Ken and Annette were long-time suburban dwellers, but their downtown jobs and long commutes left them longing to live in the heart of the city. They found the house of their dreams during one of their long city walks -- a charming, Victorian heritage row house -- and although it needed tons of work, they bought it with an eye to moving in slowly and retiring there for good.

While they wound up their life in the suburbs and planned the upcoming renovation, they let their three grown children become tenants in their new digs. But a whole year passed and the kids were making themselves very comfy. The place was even dingier than before -- and was just one pizza box away from total kid domination!

Mom and dad were ready to reclaim their space, so they called me in to help figure out how to update the frat house disaster. My advice was to start with the heart of the home: the kitchen, which would help set the tone for the rest of the design. And what better way to get rid of the kids than to undertake a massive renovation in their favourite room! So I gave the kids their walking papers, called in my crew and geared up to turn the awkward, dreary space into a sleek, updated kitchen for two: Ken and Annette.


I started by stripping the room bare and starting from square one. I painted the whole space in creamy beige, and gave one wall a very special treatment with a chocolate metallic vinyl graphic. I also removed the room's ancient linoleum to make way for a new mushroom coloured porcelain heated tile floor.

Then I got busy on the particulars. Ken wanted a sleek, modern kitchen but Annette wanted some traditional touches in order to maintain the home's historical character. So I chose appliances, accents, lighting and accessories that would blend the contemporary with the conventional.

Along one side of the room I installed an entire wall of espresso stained cabinets. I then put in gorgeous white quartz countertops and a stunning backsplash comprised of chocolate, coffee and cream mosaic glass tiles.

To contrast all of the dark brown and white in the room, I put in state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances including a side-by-side fridge, an oven with a warming drawer, a wine fridge, a deep basin sink and a built-in espresso maker.

In the middle of the room, I created a 14-foot long kitchen island. I divided the island up into two areas: a lower area with a built-in sink and storage that will serve as a bar area, and a higher area that will function as an eating centre. I covered it with the same white quartz as the other counters, and put two dazzling, linear crystal fixtures above.

For additional sparkle, I put in recessed lighting on the ceiling, task lighting at the upper cabinets, accent lighting near the shelves and path lighting on the lower storage cabinets. I also put up some beautiful woven wooden blinds and sheer striped drapes on the patio doors.

After some final accents and accessories, the kitchen was ready to be reclaimed by its rightful owners. By blending modern tiles, cabinets and floors with a variety of traditional finishes, Ken and Annette got a kitchen that is elegant, contemporary -- and kid-free!


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