Homes Photo Credit: Janis Nicolay. Styling by Nicole Sjöstedt

Kitchen Special: Family-Friendly Style

A farmhouse-style kitchen in Vancouver is the perfect fit when the household is home to three active boys.

Designer Melanie Finkleman had two must-haves on her checklist when she began designing a kitchen for her new Vancouver home. First, it had to be functional: lots of storage drawers on the lower level, plenty of elbowroom so the whole family could work together in the space. But most importantly, it needed to have a big island—big enough to hold the random assortment of dishware her kids might leave behind at any time. “With three boys, we go through a lot of cups,” laughs Finkleman. “A big island was really important.”

vancouver kitchen
Ben and Leo (crawling) finish breakfast in the eating area.

Finkleman, who runs design firm Hazel and Brown with her husband, Ben Brown, designed the space with her active family in mind. So she chose a “farmhouse industrial” look, one that could be translated into a design scheme in which nothing had to be perfect. “They run around, play with hockey sticks and shoot balls,” says Finkleman, “and things can get dented. But that’s what works about the distressed look. If the floors get scratched you can’t tell.”

Family-Friendly Vancouver Kitchen
Honed black granite counters offer crisp contrast to the white cabinets, and the island is the opposite: White Shimmer Caesarstone counters with charcoal cabinets.

Each boy—Max (8), Jack (6) and Leo (2)—has his own Stokke Tripp Trapp chair (a unique design that grows with each of them from infancy to adulthood) but, come playdate time, all the kids like to pile together into the banquette positioned in the corner. “They love that it feels like a restaurant,” says Finkleman. “It’s like a booth when we’re out for dinner.” WL

Family-Friendly Vancouver Kitchen
The full-height pantry (left) has pull-out drawers. “The kids love going in there for snacks,” laughs Melanie. Jack and Max fool around in the under- banquette storage (right), where the family typically stashes art supplies and toys.

Designer Tips

1. Place the microwave at a more user-friendly level. Melanie Finkle­man recommends hip level—high enough that kids can’t play with the buttons but low enough that you’re not pulling down hot food from overhead. (This means losing the over-range model.)

2. Find storage in unusual spots. This room has a classic pantry, but it also has a secret storage stash under the banquette in the eating area that’s perfect for toys and art supplies.

3. If you’re a baker, go for a bigger sink. Finkleman loves a large single bowl over a double sink— it’s easier to clean a cookie sheet or rinse a pan when you’ve got more space.

4. Look for places to add visual interest in a white kitchen. Here, Finkleman used darker grout on the white subway tile on the backsplash, and a charcoal paint on the lower cabinets of the island.

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