A born entertainer brings Brit style to the West Coast.

brick kitchen western living

Brick walls stretch up to exposed fir beams; thick iron frames outline oversized windows; a stove hood dangles from aircraft cables—it’s a Vancouver kitchen with the heart of a European factory. Designer Alanna Johnston took these rugged details and created an industrial-chic space perfect for entertaining.

The homeowner had spent some time living in England and wanted to bring an Old World feel to his new home in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood: London rowhouse meets contemporary West Coast. Handsome materials channel classic masculine style—brick veneers, European-style rift-cut walnut cabinets, leather stool cushions—but modern elements like the big TV (ideal for catching the game while prepping steaks) and a sleek fireplace celebrate creature comforts.

Wilson is a natural-born entertainer, so Johnston equipped the room with a 60-inch Wolf range, an industrial-grade Sub-Zero refrigerator, a Sub-Zero integrated wine fridge and plentiful seating, because no matter where in the world he’s living, if there’s food and friends, he’s home.

6 Ways to Get This London-Cool Look

sink western living

1. Splurge on appliances. The white Bianco Carrara marble countertops may be pleasing to the eye, but the real stars of this kitchen makeover are the heavy-duty refrigerator—the glass door makes ingredient inventory a snap—and Wolf stovetop.

brick backsplash western living

2. Tile with brick. This beauty is skin deep: the walls are done with a brick veneer, salvaged from a heritage building in Chicago. Cutting real bricks into thirds made them easier to work with, and the result is a surface with texture and character.

light fixture clear western living

3. Find inspiration everywhere. While design mags and blogs can spark great ideas, movie sets are full of design inspiration, too. “I spotted these light fixtures—Italian pendants with a classic traditional twist—in a Daniel Craig flick,” laughs designer Alanna Johnston.

wine fridge western living

4. Create a comfort zone for guests. The fire, the television, but most importantly, the wine fridge and glassware: this relaxation zone is designed with guests’ comfort first and foremost, keeping them near the chef’s action in the kitchen without obligating them to pitch in.


5. Get wired. Everyone gravitates to the kitchen—and not just for eating and entertaining. “In the morning, I’ll grab a coffee and sit here with my laptop with CNBC and the fire on,” says the homeowner. Johnston designed the island to suit, with electrical and ethernet access built right in: perfect for surfing for recipes or streaming from Netflix.

butcher block counter western living

6. Make room for a mess. A built-in butcher block means a sturdy, dedicated surface for all cooking prep. “People have a fear of that white marble,” says Johnston. “The butcher’s block is strategically placed at the end of the island for the messy stuff that most often occurs around the sink, range and refrigerator.”


Originally published March 2013.