Written by Tiffany Carboni
As anyone who has ever lived with one knows, the best part about a “builder’s basic” kitchen is remodeling it. So was the case for the urban chic couple able to look beyond what was in front of their eyes when they bought this loft in a former industrial building in Toronto’s Leslieville district.
To give the studio the panache they wanted without the price tag to match, they hired Amy Kent and Ryan Martin, owners of Croma Design, who were asked to mix high- and lower-end products without compromising on luxurious results.
The designers first added walls to separate the kitchen/dining area from the bedrooms. “By adding walls,” says Martin, “the entire space actually feels much bigger, with a better sense of scale given to the kitchen.”
The existing exposed brick wall and polished concrete floor set the stage for the overall monochromatic scheme. The neutrality serves as a backdrop to the couple’s ever-evolving art collection. To keep the budget on track, Kent and Martin found simple, modern cabinets from Ikea, which they topped with blizzard quartz by Caesarstone. “There was no point using expensive custom cabinets when we could get exactly what we wanted for a fraction of the price,” says Martin. “These work as the basic building blocks and allowed our client to invest in the more unique, eye-catching details.”
Such details include the wall-to-wall backsplash made of 12-by-24-inch honed Bianco Piove marble tiles from Ciot Habitat. Often mistaken for wood, the tiles are as much of a conversation piece as the art propped against it. Similarly, the sink and faucet, plus the stainless steel GE Monogram appliances, add to the kitchen’s urbane look. “It’s these small, more expensive touches that act as jewelry, elevating the appearance of the entire space,” notes Kent.
The existing ceiling height and exposed ducts, beams and columns were salvaged from the building’s original state, though their mismatched hues were all painted white.
Bathed in natural sunlight all day, the kitchen only requires electrical lighting after dark. Kent and Martin made sure the couples’ needs were met for entertaining and showing off their art collection by adding directional track lighting and a suspended custom feature fixture over the island that throws brilliant halogen lighting where it’s needed.
In keeping with the room’s industrial, SoHo vibe, the homeowners re-adapted their sleek bar stools, and introduced high-end Jacques Guillon dining chairs from Avenue Road that everyone on the team agrees are surprisingly comfortable. The dining table was made cost effective by combining industrial kitchen shelving and a butcher block. Above it hangs the couple’s prized sculpture by Knopp Ferro.
A builder’s basic no more, this new rendition is a shining example of how high- and lower-end pieces can work together in harmony to achieve a tasteful kitchen reflective of its owners.