Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cottage Bungalow: Kitchen

Kitchen concept board

I began designing a cottage bungalow project  back in January for some past clients. The house is located a couple hours north of Toronto in the 4 season resort town of Collingwood.  For them its a third home and will be used as a summer residence.  The house is a near century old cottage style bungalow that’s lost all of its historic charm over the years as you can see from some of the original photos below, and then how it looked when my clients purchased it.

The top photo shows the bungalow probably in the 50's (?) clad in the original wood siding which eventually was bricked over and had a cement porch added.  The second photo above is what the front of the house looked like when my clients purchased it last fall.

Front exterior mid-June.  The old brick has been removed and the entire house is newly cald in wood siding (white of course!).

The size of the house is deceiving from the photos, its quite deep and also has a separate detached large garage.  The scope of work involves a complete interior gut as well as a rear addition with a new master suite and a new side patio/covered porch area linking the house with the detached garage.  I inherited the project after the Architect had done the initial base plans including the new addition and the proposed new interior layout.  I started the interior design plans by doing some tweeking to the kitchen, below you can see the initial plan I started with and the final plan below.

This plan was prepared by the Architect's office and was used to get the permit process moving forward, and the new addtition started asap.  The kitchen used to be located in the rear of the house (you can see a bit of in the plan view above shown in dotted lines).  The new layout brings it to the front section of the original house, adjoining the other living areas.  The rear section of the house will house the bedrooms and the new kitchen location will overlook the new side patio outdoor living area.

The initial issues I addressed with the layout was the location of the cooktop, (in front of a window) and also the large amount of space between the front and back counters that this created.  It was a huge amount of workspace for a couple who don't cook a lot and also I wasn't fond of the upper cabinets over the pennisula.

Above is the final kitchen layout I prepared for them.  Its a straight line layout which I personally find to be the most efficient (range, sink, dw, fridge all in a line) with an island in front.  I eliminated the built-in wall ovens and gained back that counterspace for the main work wall, then was able to place a range to the left of the window.  The island will be great additional counter space, and will house pots, pans, recycling, dishware and a microwave.  It will be all one height with counter seating - great for casual daily meals and for entertaining. There will be no upper cabinets at all, the kitchen will be low and open, emphasizing the extra high ceilings,  with lots of wall space for the clients art collection.  I think we achieved better flow and a more efficient work zone.
The original part of the house where the new kitchen is located has wonderful high 11’ ceilings, the old windows were replaced with new to replicate the original 6 over 6 style.  We positioned a new window above the sink which overlooks the outdoor dining area but instead of having it installed above the counter height, it was installed at the same height as all the existing windows so its actually lower the kitchen counter.  This creates continuity with the window alignment (inside and out) and gives the sense the window has always been there.  To accommodate this, I made the counters extra deep at 30”, and created a trough space where the countertop drops down behind the sink, in front of the window.  This little trough can be a great spot for potted  herbs.   With an extra deep counter the double hung window over the sink won’t be easy to open but even knowing this, my clients opted to go this route anyway rather than switch this one window to a casement style. 

My client is an artist with a desire for all white interiors and clean lined architectural details.  She has amassed a large collection of oversize, very colourful paintings along with some interesting antiques and family heirlooms that will be beautifully shown off in the all white space, almost gallery style.  Although she loves clean modern lines, she also has an appreciation for heritage style details and it was important to them to see the character charm of the house be brought back to life and referenced in a fresh way.

Below are a couple of elevations showing the design concept for the kitchen.......

The kitchen cabinets themselves are non-custom, but the rest of the kitchen has lots of custom detail such as; a custom full height stainless steel backsplash, custom designed s.s. chimney hood, custom fabricated quartz countertops, customized panelled sides on the island, and custom made pantry doors made from antique wood.  With no upper cabinets at all, the kitchen will evoke a spare simplicity.

Selecting all the fixtures and finishes was all about balance and instinct - how to mix interior and architectural styles without it looking like a mish-mash?  For the best balance I'll always use an 80-20 rule.  Then give or take. Going with my own instincts for where to stray from this.   In this decidedly contemporary interior, deciding how or where to use rustic or country elements takes some thoughtful planning and a restrained approach.

Like the rest of the interior, I designed the white on white on white kitchen with a dose of modern lines and a pinch of vintage/industrial country.  The white cabinets and nickel hardware are clean and contemporary, as is the stainless steel hood and backsplash but the wide plank floor has a rustic patina with a weathered grey wash.  The white quartz counters are made from the newest technology but the large visible aggregate in this one reminds me of concrete which gives the kitchen a more relaxed vibe.  The faucet is a modern take on a bridge style faucet  (its a stunner!) and will sit in front of the classic 6 over 6 window.  Suspended from the extra high ceiling (unadorned, free from crown moulding) will be a pair of oversized white barn pendants highlighting the island.  An antique nickel swing arm lamp will be mounted over the sink window to provide some additional task lighting, (and another pair of these will be mounted on the Living Room side of the same wall to highlight a gallery wall of artwork above the stairs).  To contrast all the white and stainless steel, the pantry doors will be custom made from reclaimed wood, left in their natural colour.  
I’m looking foward to another visit to the house next week to see the countertops and most of the new lighting installed.  Not to mention, I’m anxious to see the nearly completed 3 bathrooms and 2 fireplace designs come to life!

All photos, illustrations and drawings by:  Carol Reed


  1. Oh wow! I can't wait to see this develop please continue to share. Love it.

  2. I love how you bring things to life with respect for a past and then a nod to the future. It will be such a great layout. When the time comes for my will be the designer for it.
    Someday soon. There is something about a cottage that is calling me.

  3. A beautifully neat layout and solution - I love your comment about your 80/20 rule - a rather good mantra. Love all these materials for this house - it is a happy balance of its history and its future.

  4. So much better! Love the layout and specs...Happy Summer!!

  5. Can't wait to see the finishing touches of the place. Waiting for the updates. :)

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  6. Looks beautiful! I am curious how you framed out the refrigerator and how it looks? I am looking for ideas to keep a clean look without upper cabinets. Do you have any additional pictures?

  7. CarolReedInteriorDesignFebruary 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Hi Joanne,
    End panels were installed on either side of the fridge and another panel and cap across the top. ~ C


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