Three designers take on three compact kitchens to create three looks we love.

GAILEGUEVARA-janis-nicolayLook #1: West Coast Scandinavian

An exercise in minimalism, this white-on-white kitchen enhances space and natural lighting with every detail. Beneath the surface, designer Gaile Guevara installed shelving organizers that “Tetris” together the owners’ possessions so there’s a place for everything.

Designer Tips to Get the Look

Don’t waste an inch. A simple look like this one demands zero clutter. Install cabinet storage that helps you compartmentalize every single kitchen possession. If you haven’t used an item in six months, consider tossing it.

Layer your lighting. Arrange your lighting so that you can combine different light sources to suit your activity and mood. The kitchen’s task lighting provides a focused work area, the LED pendant lamps are dimmable and the under-cabinet lighting provides a soft late-night glow.

Make it monochrome. In a small home, decor in contrasting colours can encroach on the room. Instead, pick one tone that lets cabinetry and countertops blend into, rather than stand out from, the surroundings. Choose subtle cabinet hardware, like finger or integrated pulls.

AMI MCKACY - janis nicolayLook #2: Luxury Industrial

The globe-trotting owners of this home wanted to showcase their travel finds, so designer Ami McKay created an inviting, contemporary backdrop for their treasures by layering antiques, natural materials and polished finishes.

Designer Tips to Get the Look

Texturize your space. The kitchen’s rich textures add depth, giving the house an earthy feel. The designer mixed wood with smooth lacquered cabinets, and the natural colour variations in the marble and travertine tiles provide visual texture.

Warm up with a neutral colour palette. Choose comforting browns, taupe greys and warm whites. The kitchen’s natural materials play starring roles in the colour scheme.

Tell stories with your decor. This home is full of the owners’ unique pieces—an antique zebra rug, a deep sea diving mask. The kitchen design echoes that sense of history in its antique industrial stools and lighting, and in the salvaged-beam island.

THE CrOSS-janis nicolayLook #3: No-Kitsch Vintage

The owner of this laneway house has vibrant style and loved this vintage-look turquoise fridge. It takes centre stage in this kitchen, designed by Joanna Vagelatos for The Cross Decor and Design, accented by pinks and reds against a minimal background.

Designer Tips to Get the Look

Even in an eclectic space, stick to simple. Classic finishes are timeless. A funky backsplash tile might be tempting, but a more neutral look will be easier to adapt as your style evolves.

Help your designer get to know you. Particularly when you’ve got colourful taste, give your designer as much information as you can: show them pictures, places and possessions you treasure. Your personality will shine through in the end product.

Lose the upper cabinets. A strategic cabinet-ectomy can do wonders to open up a small kitchen. If you still need the storage space, make the shelving open or use glass cabinet doors.

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