Redesigned kitchen gets artful twist

Toronto — At the minimum, a kitchen serves as a place for cooking and food preparation. However, when Erica Westeroth, CKD, ARIDO, XTC Design Inc. in Toronto, Canada, was commissioned to renovate a 6,500-square-foot home for clients in the greater Toronto area – including the eat-in kitchen, solarium, family room, dining room/foyer, powder room and laundry room – the homeowners wanted something more for the space where meals are created and family members gather.

“The family has an appreciation for art and design,” notes Westeroth, who has been a partner at XTC Design for almost 20 years. “The homeowner appreciates the thought, work and creativity that go into them. She wanted more than a kitchen…she wanted an art form as well.”


The home, built in the early 1990s in a hillside community with large lots and luxurious boulevards, was uninspiring and mundane. The eat-in kitchen, although large in footprint, was functionally inefficient and poorly laid out. An island provided ample counter space, but was isolated and rarely used. While the homeowners wanted a new kitchen with interesting architectural details, they also wanted it open to the adjacent family room so everyone could do their own thing in their own space, yet not be isolated from one another.

Westeroth began the redesign process with several physical changes, including the elimination of a small pantry. Working with SCAPE-TECH Contracting, also in Toronto, Westeroth changed the location of several interior doorways as well as the dining room to eliminate corner cabinetry and create a more functional kitchen layout.

The orientation of the island was altered to face natural light. Its new rec-tangular shape was splayed to create interest as well as additional perimeter work surface, and to visually draw people into the kitchen. A lowered table was fused to the island to provide a place for quick meals and snacks. A curved soffit, with dimmable lights, was added above the kitchen table to create a more intimate informal eating area.

“There are always concerns and challenges when you open up a space and take down walls,” says Westeroth, noting that the opening between the kitchen and family room was widened and architecturally enhanced with symmetrical cut-out niches/pedestals that beckon entry into the sitting area and serve as a place to display art. “We were left with a big room. One challenge was to create continuity between the two principle rooms: the kitchen and family room. We wanted to make them cohesive, to make them work together and have the same feel, yet have interesting details with a cozy, warm feeling.”

To accomplish those goals, Westeroth focused on materials and finishes such as natural Jatoba flooring that runs through both rooms. Its burgundy/deep red/orange hue set the tone for the space, which focuses on Eastern tranquility with natural, soothing materials in a modern kitchen with clean lines. Linear ribbon mahogany cabinetry from Neff Kitchens, with both matte and high-gloss finishes, serves as storage in the kitchen, while asymmetrical cabinets and a beveled “picture frame” facade, hand-crafted by a local carpenter, surround the fire feature in the family room. The window opening between the kitchen and solarium was crafted from the same mahogany and was designed by XTC Design with an Eastern motif of open grillwork that echoes the square motif of the fire feature.

Jatoba and mahogany were also used in the music room, and Honey Gold slate tile, which sets off the island, can be found in the adjacent solarium.

“We wanted to make sure there was a relationship between the materials used in each room, to provide a link when you walk from one room to the other,” she says. “We didn’t want it to seem like you’re walking into different houses. We might not have used the same materials in all of the rooms, but there is at least one material from the previous room that is the same so there is a cohesive flow.”


Westeroth also relied on repetition of elements to enhance the design. The table attached to the island features a repetition of tapered leg supports. Above it, three pendant lights create a pleasing rhythm. A highly polished light bridge suspended above the island mirrors its shape, while the slate tile insert below it reflects the same shape and grounds the island within the large space.

The designer also incorporated countertop materials that provide visual interest, such as high-gloss Typhoon Bordeaux granite, maple butcher block and brushed stainless steel. Backsplash tiles, including 1"x8" Interstyle Watercolor etched glass tile and 5/8"x4" Saltillo Imports stainless steel tile enhance the sense of tranquility, as does the steel ventilation hood, custom designed by XTC Design. “It is designed with a delicate, arched canopy to soften the sharp lines of this area,” she notes.

Avid cooks, the homeowners requested an extensive, diversified appliance wish list, including a Wolf microwave, oven, six-burner gas range top, deep fryer, convection steam oven and warming drawer. A full-size Fisher & Paykel dishwasher is complemented with dual dishwasher drawers. A Sub-Zero refrigerator and wine chiller, and a Miele built-in coffee center and cup warmer round out the appliances, several of which are outlined in thick, stainless steel panels. Dual Blanco Performa sinks are accented with Grohe K4 fixtures.

“My clients wanted a comfortable kitchen,” she says. “They wanted a space that is neat and organized, where everything has its place and where it functions as well as it looks.”