photos by www.nuttycake.com | story by Janice Henshaw –
What makes today’s bathrooms spa-like? Once a room not-to-be-discussed, today’s bathroom can have a showroom quality, designed with art, textures, and remote control devices that open and warm toilet seats, wash, dry, deodorize and play music. At the same time, our kitchens have moved from hidden-away functionality to central “wow” spaces, in which it is common to both cook and entertain guests.
To find out how we can revamp our bathrooms and kitchens and introduce a touch of drama, here are some great ideas from our local experts.
How to Transform Your (Shhhh!) Bathroom!
“Keep it simple and fresh – a minimalist design gives the illusion of space,” says Tracey Jones of Remarkable Interiors. “Incorporate fabulous lighting; an over-the-tub chandelier paired with beautiful wall sconces or vanity ceiling pendants creates a great room feel as opposed to something that is just there to function.”
Instead of bringing in more colours, Tracey suggests using contrasting textures in similar tones with the floor and wall in tile, paper, wood, shiny and matte finishes. For example: you can try using a textured basket for towels paired with a sleek countertop or floor. “This creates a luxury feel without overwhelming a small space.”
Tracey is adamant about builder grade mirrors: “No way! Amazing framed mirrors (as large as possible) over each sink upgrade the vanity space instantly. As well as function, the mirrors reflect light and again give the illusion of more space.”
Barrett, of Barrett Smith Construction, agrees that one of the most important factors in a bathroom is natural light, or the lack of it. Having a window or a skylight can add “another layer of softness to your bathroom.” If natural light is not available, he uses the trick of “borrowed light,” which means he frames an opening in the wall and installs a piece of obscure (translucent or opaque) glass.
As storage in a bathroom is always an issue, Barrett designs cabinetry with large drawers. He suggests making the countertop seem larger by choosing a sleek and elegant single lever faucet that takes up less space. In tiling tub and shower stalls, Barrett prefers large tiles (12-inch by 24-inch) with an accent row (or two). The tiles can be run either vertically (adding the appearance of height) or horizontally (adding the appearance of length) to the shower stall. Larger tiles also equate to fewer grout lines to clean and maintain.
Imagine stepping out of your gorgeous shower onto a heated tile floor and then wrapping yourself in a warm sumptuous towel. Laura McLarty, the owner of Flush Bathroom Essentials, thinks that towel warmers are an affordable luxury that will bring a wow factor to any bathroom. Laura suggests that a second wow factor in any bathroom comes from the texture and colour introduced by high-quality towels. Their Coyuchi, Fair Trade Certified™ towels are “soft and thirsty” and designed to dry quickly on the towel bar. “Perfect,” Laura says, “for West Coast living.”
Hook & Hook Renovations Designer Andi Hook says that a great way to update an existing bathroom is to install a fresh new custom vanity. “It can work in any space, style and budget. The style options are endless, but a favourite is all drawers – two sets of drawers on either side with two sinks and a lower drawer in the middle for a makeup station. A beautiful wallpaper adds ‘pop,’ especially in a smaller space,” says Andi. “And if you have the budget, tile the walls for drama.”
Now for the Dream Kitchen – What Elements Can Make an Old Kitchen Company-ready?
Seaside Cabinetry & Design’s Jessica Kwasnica says that making islands more like furniture pieces helps to beautify and unite kitchen and living spaces. “Now that kitchens are so open to the main living space, people are bringing more of their personality into creating them. Backsplashes with bright and unique colours, interesting countertops, fabulous lights or eccentric hardware are all ways of doing this.” Seaside Cabinetry recently designed a kitchen around a cranberry red AGA fridge and stove. “That really put a personal spin on a fabulous kitchen.”
“The kitchen is the room in the home where you can blow the most cash,” says Barrett Smith. His favourite choices for cabinetry are maple (light and fluffy) and fir (more dramatic) finished with a clear lacquer. Barrett likes to install flat panel doors because they can “take a bump” and still look the best and cleanest for years to come.
“Under-cabinet lighting is also a must, he says. “It provides beauty while showcasing the backsplash and appliances and illuminates the prep station without shadows.” To create a unique feature in a kitchen, Barrett installs sheets of glass as the backsplash. “They have limited seams and no grout to get dirty. And the best part is that you can paint the back of the glass any colour you want.”
Cabinet Works designer Vivienne Scott says her team builds custom cabinetry and countertops for impressive bathrooms and beautiful, super-organized kitchens, in any style, material, or finish. In a recent build, they customized cabinets with highly functional and accessible pullout spice shelves, and a deep drawer that occupies a double drawer system yet retains a uniform three-drawer look. “We added lovely pull out soft close pantry shelves inside a tall cupboard and a fully accessible upper corner cabinet that eliminates those dark recesses where containers and jars get lost forever!”
As to what you would put in that fabulous new kitchen, Muffet, of Muffet & Louisa, says: “If I had unlimited money and space, I would love to have a Sub-Zero fridge and a La Cornue Château Series stove with a pot filler above it. There would be no uppers (cabinets) but deep shelves below the counter for storage, and a terrazzo floor that could be hosed to a central drain with a garburator!”
Other essentials that Muffet would include are a “Mineral” fry pan, a nine-inch chef’s knife, a coque au vin pot, a great stainless steel spatula, an icemaker, and easy access to a small herb garden – perhaps on the roof.
If some of these changes are not in your immediate plans, worry not! There are some timeless and irreplaceable elements that work in kitchens big and small, no matter their age: offer a warm hug to all who enter, arrange fresh flowers and herbs in bouquets, hang artwork from family and friends, prepare nutritious tasty food, and enjoy the precious moments that you share with those you love.