Homes & Design Photo Credit: Barry Calhoun

We Can’t Get Enough of This No-Holds-Barred Dream Kitchen

Custom millwork, made-to-order appliances (yes, that’s a rotisserie oven) and a stand-alone prep space—this West Vancouver kitchen has it all.

The design process requires compromise, yet it’s hard to see how that truism applies to this West Vancouver kitchen. Where are the hard choices? What’s been sacrificed? There’s the made-to-order appliances, the custom millwork and undoubtedly the most luxe feature of all, the wok kitchen—a stand-alone prep space that redefines the humble butler’s pantry.

To understand how a kitchen like this comes to pass is to go back to 2008. That year, the homeowners began working with Kelly Deck Design on a painstaking, multi-year renovation. Two years after the project wrapped, they were all working together again, this time building an 8,500-square-foot custom home in the same neighbourhood. It would share the look and feel of the first house—that unmistakable light, transitional modernism for which the design firm is known—but it would be programmed to suit the couple and their two young children down to the smallest detail. “They wanted a home that was comfortable and worked for their family,” says lead designer Nicole Mah. “At the same time, incorporating traditional elements and staying true to the overall architecture and setting was also important.”


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From the outset, Mah worked closely with Alex Glegg, of Alex Glegg Design, who designed the home itself, allowing her to reference architectural details and exterior elements with well-considered interior details. For example, the pattern in the backsplash tile follows the diagonal lines of the coffered ceiling; the warm whites and parchment-toned paint colours contrast precisely with the black-framed doors and windows, which then contrast precisely with the limestone-clad exterior of the house.

Of course, the La Cornue range factored highly into the overall kitchen design. Early on in the process, Mah and the homeowners attended an event at Colony Appliances, where chef Trevor Bird of Vancouver’s Fable Diner prepared a meal on the bespoke French cooker. (It was there they also saw the company’s built-in rotisserie oven and added it to the plans. When in Rome…)

The completed 500-square-foot space is as practical as it is meticulous. The countertops are durable quartz, the bar stools are upholstered in synthetic leather and the wide-plank white oak flooring, which is hand-scraped and washed in a subtle grey, will wear gracefully over time. And the wok kitchen is where the homeowners prep small daily meals and keep their culinary lives in order with the help of custom integrated storage. The finishes here have been simplified, but the ethos matches the rest of the house. Says Mah: “There’s a fresh brightness to all of it.”

Steal This Look

Incorporate a secondary prep space. So many new kitchens, especially on the sunlight-starved West Coast, prioritize windows over upper cabinets, resulting in an open look but a loss of storage. A dedicated pantry space, be it a closet, butler’s pantry or fully equipped wok kitchen like this one, maximizes storage and keeps spaces open and uncluttered.

Keeping the sink in the perimeter counters gives the island flexibility. “It’s all about having that open layout,” says Mah. “Removing the sink allows enough room on the island for additional stools and, though you can’t see them, for several electrical receptacles for laptops, et cetera. There’s an ease of use.”

The wok kitchen is where the homeowners prep small daily meals.

Reference millwork details with patterned tile. The crisscross pattern of the backsplash is a subtle, shimmering nod to the diagonal lines in the 10-foot-high coffered ceilings overhead. Says Mah: “What I love about the mosaic tile is that it adds a little bit more character and dimension but still really relates to the look and feel of the space.”

Use appliances as a focal point. “Integration is a key detail to avoid clutter and distraction,” says Mah. “These La Cornue appliances are so beautiful (above right), they function as art pieces within this quiet space.” The polished stainless accents on the range coordinate with the polished nickel hardware on the cabinet doors.

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