One Saskatoon design firm discovers that big design risks can yield beautiful rewards.

Kitchen Dark and Dramatic Feature Western Living 1Beneath the glossy coats of black paint that cover the cabinets in this Saskatoon kitchen lies a material most modern designers would balk at.“Oak grain gets a bad rap—people associate it with the ’80s!” laughs Curtis Elmy. “But this kitchen wouldn’t have worked as well with any other material.” He and partner Trevor Ciona, of Atmosphere Interior Design, had a chance to upend convention as they designed for the latest Saskatoon Hospital Home Lottery, and the risk paid off—the beautiful texture of the wood plays perfectly against the creamy quartz countertops, the smooth white coffered ceiling, and the delicate diamond-patterned tile. That diamond motif is reflected in the unique millwork, too: “We thought, ‘how many times can a person do a Shaker door? Let’s try something new,’” Elmy explains.To brighten up the dark space, the duo peppered in reflective elements. The striking custom hood vent is decked out in oak and shiny stainless steel; oversized polished chrome pendant lamps dangle above the island; mirrors glitter behind the glass-doored cabinets. An elevated breakfast bar made from Nero Reverse marble (the same marble used for the fireplace in the living room opposite) infuses the space with Atmosphere’s signature glamour. It’s a room that mixes elegance with a little bit of edge—“We’re trying to strike the balance between mass appeal and forward-thinking design,” says Elmy—but one that ultimately feels like home.Tips1. Pick a pattern and then use it in a variety of sizes, like the diamond motif here: it’s on the backsplash, bar stools and  cabinet doors.2. Maximize storage by installing cabinetry all the way to the ceiling. Here, the design team opted for floor-to-ceiling pantries.3. Choose oversized pendants with reflective or transparent finishes. In this case, the reflection keeps the space from feeling overwhelmed.4. Disguise the range hood with a custom millwork case. The designers added more reflection with the stainless steel inserts.Kitchen Dark and Dramatic Feature Western Living 2 The raised marble breakfast bar is an element Elmy loves. “Kitchen islands have become so big, they practically look institutional,” says the designer. “Raising part of the counter just a few inches, we still get the surface area, but it looks much more interesting.”Kitchen Dark and Dramatic Feature Western Living 3 The backs of the distressed-oak bar stools echo this kitchen’s subtle diamond motif (just take a look at the slick backsplash and custom millwork) and add an element of homey, casual charm to the upscale space.