How a designer gave a pair of empty nesters a slick, contemporary condo kitchen in Forest Hill

How a designer gave a pair of empty nesters a slick, contemporary condo kitchen in Forest Hill

After 35 years in a large Forest Hill house, a pair of empty nesters said sayonara to the endless maintenance and the knee-killing stairs. They opted for a condo in the same neighbourhood that, at a roomy 2,000 square feet, was almost perfect. The only problem: the dull and dysfunctional 1980s kitchen. So they enlisted Laura Stein of Laura Stein Interiors to go against the melamine, gutting the lot in order to give them the slick and sophisticated kitchen of their dreams. “They may be grandparents in their 70s, but they don’t have granny tastes,” Stein says. While the makeover was relatively simple, the logistics were not: due to condo restrictions and the unit’s construction, the sink, stove, fridge and HVAC system had to remain in their existing locations, limiting layout options for the room. Here’s how she did it.

The old, quintessential 1980s kitchen had bulky track lighting, parquet floors and melamine cabinetry with minimal storage:

The dropped-ceiling lighting system—once very stylish to the shoulder-padded set—stole inches off the ceiling, making the room feel particularly cramped to the tall clients. The dishwasher and oven were also ready for retirement:

The unsightly panel to the right of the fridge hides an HVAC system that obstructed the flow of the kitchen but could not be moved. There were also awkward gaps around the fridge and the door beside it, which also blocked the flow:

Stein hid the HVAC system behind a door designed to integrate seamlessly with the rest of the cabinetry:

Open sesame!

Heavy drapery would have killed the sublime treetop view, so Stein opted for simple blinds that maximize the sunlight while maintaining privacy from neighbours below. Shiny large-format porcelain tile floors mimic marble, making the space feel spacious and sleek:

The heavily veined backsplash imitates a single slab of opulent marble—it’s actually a series of tightly installed marble tiles, which is a less expensive option:

Stein bumped the peninsula out to widen the cooking area. Since the wife loves to cook, Stein also made sure to install snazzy appliances. The high-gloss cabinets are by Diamond Custom Cabinetry and the countertops are Caesarstone. The old dropped lighting system didn’t cut it, but the concrete ceiling meant light fixtures could not be moved or added, so Stein added updated track lighting and pendants:

A chic entertainer’s nook holds a wine fridge and a hefty stainless steel Viking that is permanently stocked with snacks for visitors: