Homes & Design Photo Credit: Martin Tessler. Styling by Nicole SjÖstedt

Stunning Midcentury Kitchen Renovation

A careful renovation of a midcentury home in Deep Cove, BC, creates a kitchen that’s made for the modern family.

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This 1969 Bill Hassell-designed home boasts the best of 1960s West Coast raw modernism: its wooden frame is perched on stilts on a steep lot above Deep Cove, a waterfront community near Vancouver, capturing views from Burnaby Mountain to Indian Arm. But, until recently, it also had a Lilliputian-sized kitchen—a major problem for owners Kirk Gibbons and Kathryn Liu, a pair of art directors who enjoy entertaining. They brought their literal case of too many cooks to Vancouver architect D’Arcy Jones, who proposed drastic action: moving the kitchen from its cramped corner to an underused family room on the opposite side of the main floor. The result is a bold black-and-white cooking space that pays homage to the original ’60s architecture. “It was important that the new elements we designed play second fiddle to the quirky existing house,” says Jones. “So many kitchens, even high-end European ones, end up being boxes dropped in place.” To integrate the new with the old, Jones played with different ceiling heights, skylights and pass-throughs, creating a pleasing jigsaw that jibes with Hassell’s complex plan of interlocking rooms and split levels. Black walls and beams echo similar structural supports in the rest of the house, while sleek white lacquered cupboards sound a contemporary note. (To enhance the dramatic effect, Jones brought the drywall right down to the cabinetry, and integrated the fridge.) For the island at the heart of the space, Jones and his clients debated both black and white Caesarstone before finding a deep grey that’s the perfect midpoint between the two. More important than the colour, however, was its size: the central workspace is extra-long, giving both Gibbons and Liu plenty of elbow room.

 

Tips

1. Avoid having the refrigerator dominate the space. Bring the counters up to sit flush with the fridge—in this case, it’s a full 32 inches instead of the standard 24.

2. Match the colour of the island sink to the countertop. It’ll disappear when it’s not in use.

3. Create a seamless transition by using the same flooring material throughout. Here, it’s a site-finished oak, as used in the rest of the house.

4. Eschew showy (and expensive) range hoods. They’ll often look dated within a few years. Jones opted for a flush grill in the wall right above the cooktop.

5. Celebrate the existing architecture. Here, Jones nixed a few cabinets to create a view-through from the half-floor above.

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A renovation of this West Coast-modern home saw architect D’Arcy Jones move the once-tiny kitchen into an underutilized former family room.
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“I like the quirkiness of the cabinets and sculpted drywall,” says Jones. “They’re modern without overwhelming the architecture of the original house.”

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