Planning a dream kitchen? Get inspired by these smart tips from the pros who make it look easy.

Kitchen Tips Feature Western Living 2Go Leggy On The IslandWhen Laurie and Randy Phillips designed their Delta, B.C., home, Laurie found this workbench at an auction and refashioned it as an island. It’s a perfect contrast to the modern space—and a great conversation piece.

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Include Open Shelving In The DesignThere’s loads of storage in this Canmore, B.C., kitchen designed by Amanda Hamilton, but three rift-cut white-oak shelves provide a little display for extra-special dishware. Because millwork often carries up to the ceiling in kitchens, notes Hamilton, open shelving offers the opportunity to introduce some personal style. “It’s also the perfect spot for wineglasses, so your guests can help themselves.”Kitchen Tips Feature Western Living 3

Kit Out The CornersDesigner Karin Bohne of Moeski Design Agency didn’t waste an inch in this petite Vancouver penthouse kitchen—right down to the corner. Because of pre-existing in-floor heating, she couldn’t change the position of the appliances during her renovation of this space, so the tiny footprint needed to max out storage. What could have been awkward space now perfectly hosts 10 bottles of wine and a counter-height microwave.

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Bring Drama With LightingHow do you keep a white kitchen from feeling like any other white kitchen? Dramatic lighting makes a big difference, as is the case with these show-stopping Currey and Company pendant lights, which are nearly two feet in diameter. Designed by Bruce Wilkin in Victoria, the space gets extra wow thanks to the high-gloss custom ceiling; with lights set on a dimmer at night, the ceiling practically sparkles.

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Make The Ceiling Work For YouThis kitchen, in an open-concept main floor by Frits de Vries Architect and Natural Balance Home Builders, would float untethered were it not for the bold millwork that climbs up the ceiling. “The idea is to find creative ways to distinguish or separate spaces without using traditional walls,” explains Natural Balance president Nick Kerchum, “to maintain that open look but be able to create well-defined spaces.”