There’s no question this Oakville area kitchen by designer Sarah St. Amand is impeccably designed. From the twinkling pendants and lux walnut and marble, to the crisp black window frames and navy cabinetry that quietly nod to kitchens of yore, the refined transitional esthetic ticks all the boxes style-wise. But what’s more important to Sarah is that the 500-square-foot space is supremely functional – carefully calibrated around the busy lifestyle of the professional couple, and their teenagers and dogs, who live here.
Behind the Scenes
The best kitchens, she explains, work like sophisticated machinery – both within the living space, and inside the cabinetry and behind the walls. And the guidance of a designer can be crucial in planning that. “I refer to myself as the director of the show,” she says. “Renovations are like a stage production: we go through everything with all the characters, and plan out absolutely everything that’s going to happen.”
This renovation meant bringing a dated kitchen into the 21st century and making it suitable for both family living and entertaining. “It was an ‘80s kitchen with terrible function,” Sarah says. “Shiny-white press-board cabinetry and a huge vent that came down over the island stove chopped up the space.” (The transformation is part of a phased-in approach to redesigning various parts of the three-bedroom home.)
Design Details Uncovered
The design process starts long before demolition begins. Sarah and her assistant, Sarah Rodriguez (their social media handle is #teamsarah), walk clients through an exhaustive checklist focused on how they use the kitchen, and what they want in the new space. “Design professionals have the skill set and knowledge to consider so many things,” she says. “In kitchens, for example, flow and clearances are really important. You shouldn’t have your oven or dishwasher where you can’t get around them when they’re being used.” They tailor storage to house everything from china and foodstuffs, to stand mixers, vacuums and pods for single-serve coffeemakers. Want to add open shelving? Sarah will explain the realities of keeping it tidy, and of giving up valuable closed storage. “Like to entertain? Have pets? We look at anything that helps clients function best in the space – and offer an esthetic in line with the house, and the style that we want to create,” she says. They also consider safety and building codes, addressing details like where new wiring is installed to accommodate pendants or sconces, where to integrate USB ports for charging and home office needs. Then, once operational elements are settled, plans can be drawn, decorative pieces can be chosen, and construction can get underway.
Impeccable Quality & Specialty Service
Interior design is a service that can make our time-starved lives easier. But it’s a luxury service, Sarah explains, and top-notch design like this is expensive. Appliances can quickly eat up $20,000 of a budget. Custom-made of solid walnut, and chic and comfortable enough for dinner party guests, the stools here cost $2,000 each. Then there’s the hundreds of hours the design team puts into overseeing the project. “When you go to a lawyer for your legal issues, you pay for that – or a massage therapist or auto mechanic, they’re specialists. Unfortunately, the design industry doesn’t always get seen as specialists.”
“All in, this kitchen was easily $120,000. A design like this – especially a kitchen – is a major investment,” Sarah says. “But you really want to get it right the first time. You don’t want to have it all done and then think, ‘I wish I asked for a built-in espresso maker!’”
The rich graining of the walnut paneling on the end of the island is a textural and organic balance to the kitchen’s long stretches of white-and-navy cabinetry. Kitchen flooring is always carefully chosen, says Sarah; “these are high-traffic areas, so it has to be slip-resistant, but also comfortable, and sometimes it has heating in place as well.”
KITCHEN DESIGN: Sarah St. Amand Interior Design COUNTERTOP: Quartex FRIDGE: Sub-Zero STOVE: Wolf DISHWASHER, ARTICULATED LIGHT OVER SINK AND PENDANT LIGHTS OVER ISLAND: Universal Lamp BLUE CABINET PAINT: Hale Navy Benjamin Moore WHITE CABINET PAINT: Swiss Coffee Benjamin Moore FAUCET AT MAIN SINK, SMALLER SINK: Brizo DOOR INTO LAUNDRY ROOM: Door crafted by SSID Contracting Team SLIDING DOOR MOUNTING BAR AND SLIDERS: 1925 Workbench FLUSHMOUNT LIGHT: (by wood door) Universal Lamp MUDROOM NOOK BLUE BEADBOARD PAINT COLOUR: Hale Navy, Benjamin Moore HOOKS: Richelieu BENCH CONSTRUCTION: SSID Contracting Team RUG: Dash & Albert BENCH CUSHION FABRIC: Avant Garde Fabrics THROW PILLOWS: Custom-made with Robert Allen fabric
By Katie Hayden | Photography by Mike Chajecki | Produced by Reno & Decor
Launched in 1990, RENO & DECOR is Canada’s Home Idea Book, inspiring readers with the latest in tips and trends for their decorating and renovating.