11 Dream Kitchens—and How to Steal Every Standout Look
Whether you’re thinking about a major overhaul or mini-facelift, these gorgeous spaces offer inspiration galore.
Is there a place in our home we gravitate to more? The kitchen is the heart of every great party—and every beautiful home—and the gorgeous rooms on these pages are perfectly designed to be the centres of attention.
1. How Green Is Your Island?
Designer Alykhan Velji went for a “prairie modern” look in this Calgary home—a warm, textured modern space that includes beautiful oak detailing above the range, perfectly imperfect tiles in the backsplash and brass pulls on the cabinets. And for that unexpected moment, a surprising and sweet mint green on the island.
On one side, beautiful glass-panelled drawers and detailed corner mouldings contribute to the island’s feel of being a gorgeous piece of furniture, and the whole thing is topped with a thick slab of marble—a nice contrast to the black suede-finish Silestone counters surrounding it. “It goes to show you can do something completely different with the island,” says Velji, “and it doesn’t need to match. It really allows you to have a bit more fun.”
2. Strive for True Balance
The ultra-long island in this Vancouver home leads right to the dining table—“It’s a true entertaining space, open on both sides,” says Pure Design’s Ami McKay—so a balancing act was necessary when it came to selecting lighting.
Above the dining table hangs a large Rux Stickbulb Sky Bang chandelier; McKay wanted to give the sculptural piece some room to breathe, so she picked a trio of Mater Terho lights—each topped with an acorn-like wood cap—and clustered them together at the far end of the island. “It’s heavy in the right places,” says McKay.
3. Blue Is the New Grey
Kitchen islands are an opportunity to do something a little different—a variation on the cabinetry that surrounds them. And while they’re often done in darker greys or browns, Martine Ast and Rachel Kemp of Paul Lavoie Interior Design opted for a rich and smoky navy in the kitchen of this design for Riverview Custom Homes.
Paired with the white-on-white colour scheme of the rest of the room—including a dramatic custom concrete hood fan crafted by Sculptural Designs—the colour choice feels bold, but not out of place: a perfect update of the classic grey.
4. Go Big (Really Big) with the Tile
This kitchen design comes by its Scandinavian influence honestly: architect Robert Pashuk travelled to Copenhagen in 2017 and fell in love with its design scene. Chevron-patterned hardwood floors pair with clean-lined, white oak millwork and quartz counters. Simple drop-cylinder lights over the work peninsula keep the space open, and don’t compete with the gorgeous Murano light fixture over the Saarinen Tulip dining table.
But the real showstopper is the adjoining tiled fireplace. The 10-by-10 tiles are in four distinct patterns—black, white and a combo of the two—and when combined in random order, create a distinct, abstract pattern. “At night you can see the fireplace wall through the window,” says Pashuk, “and it really feels like a piece of art on the wall.”
5. Get Benched
When designer Alykhan Velji was tasked with redesigning this Calgary kitchen, the homeowners were clear about one thing: no standard island-with-bar-stools setup for this family. “The typical rectangular eat-in island just didn’t appeal to her,” explains Velji.
Instead, he suggested this cozy banquette. Lined in cognac-coloured, channel-tufted leather and paired with a tulip table and navy upholstered chairs, it’s a casual but warm spot for the morning meal—and for the odd homework assignment for the kids.
6. Blow Out the Backsplash
When you find a backsplash you love, why not go all in? “The homeowner is a graphic designer and was open to us creating unique details throughout,” explains Tanya Krpan of Tanya Krpan Design Co.—so there were no objections to giving a gorgeous statuarietto marble the star treatment in her client’s Vancouver kitchen.
The backsplash extends from behind the stovetop to cover the whole wall, and even runs behind a glass-fronted cabinet over the coffee counter, providing a pretty backdrop to the glassware pieces stored inside.
7. Make a Baker’s Island
Designer Sarah Peters of Amanda Hamilton Interior Design had her work cut out for her when she took on the renovation of this kitchen: the homeowners had divergent aesthetic preferences. His was for clean-lined modernism, while hers leaned toward more traditional spaces. But Peters found common ground in the design of this light and bright kitchen.
There are three distinct areas—an appliance wall of high-gloss cabinetry, a prep centre with a stunning mosaic wall and, finally, that baker’s island—a few inches shorter than a typical island, making kneading and rolling a lot more comfortable. All three spaces come together with a unifying palette—the grey veining in the marble quartz counter of the island matches the high-gloss cabinets, and that great tile feature on the back mosaic wall pulls together both the greys and the white seen throughout.
And while the space is clean-lined to satisfy the modernist, the warming touches of bronze on the faucet and cabinet pulls, plus the gold legs of the bar stools, bring in that traditional touch she was looking for.
8. One Material, Two Directions
The oversized island in this Vancouver kitchen needed a large light fixture to match, so a grand chandelier was custom fabricated by Karice Lighting from the same material as the minimalist hood vent. “Using a matching finish allowed the fixture to be a statement on its own, while still being complementary,” says Josephina Serra of Form Collective, who designed the space alongside colleague Lauren Webb.
But while the lighting design is a true statement piece, the matching hood is actually intended to play a supporting role. “Though they’re both the same powder-coated metal, the idea was the hood fan would be understated in order for it to not compete with the stone backsplash,” Serra says. And what a backsplash it is: lime-green onyx from Aeon Stone and Tile, a playful, modern take on the marble trend—definitely no wallflower. “We were lucky to have a client who wasn’t afraid of colour.”
9. Don’t Forget About Rover
When Alanna Dunn and Reena Sotropa of Reena Sotropa In House Design Group were tasked with renovating this client’s kitchen, the original marching orders were to do a mini-facelift: add a wall of millwork and update the colour of the maple cabinets. But as it proceeded, the client decided to update more and more—and the result is this beautiful soft-grey room. Out went the grey slate flooring for pale wood floors.
A warm grey was selected for the cabinetry, paired with matte brass pulls and a Watermark brushed brass bridge faucet—a complement to the warm metals seen throughout the home. A custom hood fan features a hammered finish, reflecting the same finish seen in the Native Trails sink on the island. And because part of the redesign included extending the length of the island to better balance it in the space, the pair took the opportunity to create a hideaway spot for the family dog’s dinner.
“That was the previous location of the dog food bowls,” laughs Dunn. “So it was a no-brainer to just build them into the cabinet.”
10. Make a Speakeasy at Home
The homeowners were inspired by the ’60s-era concept of having a bar cart in your office—thanks for the revival, Mad Men!—and so it was up to Martine Ast and Rachel Kemp of Paul Lavoie Interior Design to bring the retro happy-hour vibe home.
Inspired by the warm caramel tones of bourbon and whisky, the team brought in darker woods and antiqued mirror, along with oil-rubbed bronze for the pulls and faucet. Naked bulbs on the sconce contribute to that vintage vibe—and the icing on the cake? A hidden door off of the living room delights guests when they discover the panel leads to this well-stocked bar.
11. Go All-In with Your Appliances
What do you do when you need to amp up the productivity of your kitchen appliances? If you’re designer Leanne Leon of E2 Homes, you double down. This modern farmhouse kitchen features three different ovens (including a speed oven and a steam oven) as well as a trio of dishwashers from Coast Appliances (one specifically designed for glasses)—which means cook time is ultra-efficient and cleanup happens in a snap.
Leon didn’t stop there: over in the pantry, you’ll find an extra freezer hidden behind a panelled cabinet, and all of the appliances, from the coffee maker to the fridge, are hooked up to the water main. It’s a more-is-more approach, but one that, surprisingly, makes socializing simpler.