Kitchen Special: Scandinavian-Inspired Style in Calgary
Scandinavian design meets a playful sense of style in a Calgary kitchen made for a fun-loving family.
“How do you live?” It’s a simple question, but an illuminating one for a designer about to create a two-storey home for his clients—and it’s always where architect Robert Pashuk starts. To his delight, the answer he received from Calgarians Sara Simpson and John Johnston was a perfect combination of open-ended (leaving Pashuk’s firm lots of room for creative innovation) and quirkily specific (providing jumping-off points for a few interesting challenges).
Since family—the couple have two kids, ages seven and 10—and casual entertaining occupy much of their time at home, Simpson told Pashuk they wanted a “modern but playful feel—nothing too serious.” (The couple underlined that request by purchasing a vibrant orange Viking range before their new kitchen was designed.) But they were particular too: they wanted windows that would satisfy Johnston’s longing for the huge Georgian-period variety he’d fallen in love with while attending the University of Edinburgh; Simpson hoped for an ideal place to indulge her love of rolling out swaths of pastry dough, along with a perfect kitchen-window seat for her mother to curl up in with the grandkids.
Thanks to a terraced plan that follows the natural downward slope of the property, the design of the kitchen, located at the back of the house, allows for 12-foot ceilings, creating space for seven-foot-high windows looking into the backyard. A nine-foot-long butcher-block island gives Simpson room to roll; Pashuk also installed a cushioned, L-shaped bench under the window for her mom (and no doubt myriad other kitchen visitors) to enjoy. A salvaged beam from the property’s original bungalow acts as support for the kitchen’s pendant lights.
Perhaps most strikingly, Pashuk found a way to upend the predictable formality of a long strip of cabinets stretching across a kitchen wall. Instead, the architect designed the reverse-Shaker cupboards to look like an assembly of boxes strapped together at varying levels. “It’s playful,” says Pashuk, “but it’s not a one-liner.”
1. Opt for drawers under the counters rather than cabinets. It’s easier to pull plates and pots out of large drawers than to root around at the back of a low, dark cupboard.
2. Incorporate meaningful, personal elements into an otherwise sleek kitchen to give it a warm, conversation-worthy appeal.
3. Make your everyday dishware part of the scenery with a glass-front or partial sliding door on one or more cupboards.
4. Don’t be afraid to use a variety of woods in the kitchen: a combination of fir and maple provides a warm yet modern effect.
5. Embrace unusual places to display art in the kitchen, where wall space is at a premium. Don’t be afraid to break the rules by hanging a piece higher, lower or in a tighter space than you normally would.