We are humbled and honoured to win the Robert Ledingham award for Emerging Interior Design for Western Living Magazine’s Designers of the Year. Read the article
The kitchen at our Hemlock project takes up nearly half the main floor of the 100 year old townhouse. To keep it from dominating the space, we designed the millwork to feel like pieces of furniture – balancing convenience for the chef with warmth and comfort for hosting guests.
Our thanks to: Janis Nicolay for the photo.
We are often asked “What would you do with this space?” While the question is simple enough, the answer is usually not what people expect: “Well, it depends…”
Our creative process starts with discovering everything that would make a design successful – who is the space for? what do they want to do there? why do they want something new? One of the most exciting parts of our work is this process of discovery – learning everything we need to know in order to say: “This is how we would design the space for you.”
The discovery process is a conversation with our clients – over a series of interactions we listen, ask questions, look at photos and magazine clippings, listen more, ask more questions… The couple we are designing this kitchen for have a unique situation since one of them is based overseas. Even though much of the conversation is over email we worked through the discovery process in pretty much the same way. When we were confident we had a common language we distilled the discovery into a creative brief, a concise (one page) document articulating the design direction. The look and feel is to be Modern, Warm & Light, using a subtle variety of finishes to create visual interest.
The other much less glamorous part of discovery is establishing all of the constraints – where are the structural columns and beams, plumbing stacks, the electrical panel? How did they build that 100 year old fire place? What is the budget? Does the contractor see any red flags? Since this townhouse has been through several renovations over the past century the contractor drilled a few holes in the walls and went down into the crawlspace to get a closer look at the foundation.
After all the research and discovery we let our imaginations run free and start on design development. Sure, some ideas get crumpled and tossed, but since we’re well-informed the initial space plan takes shape quite quickly. For this kitchen we wanted to maximize the use of space as well as traffic flow so we opted for two islands – one fixed around a structural column and another that can be wheeled aside when larger dinners call for the table to be extended.
Colours & materials, details and lighting are next, and this is where the design really begins to take shape. The client really liked the idea of floating cabinets. Despite all the appliances there was an opportunity to float the cabinet for the cooktop. And since it’s nice to have the cooktop a bit lower and cutting and prep surfaces a bit higher there was a natural transition to a different counter height and cabinet depth.
Rendering the final concept is one of the most exciting moments in the studio – for us, it’s the first big reveal. And this is why we love our work – because at the beginning of every project we could never know where it will all end up. I’m sure this is part of why the projects we work on can be so different from each other – being open-ended, being curious in discovery, ultimately leads us to places we (and our clients) could never have imaged.