Before & After: Creating a Functional, Healing Kitchen in Milton, Ontario

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Seeing potential in a new house can be challenging. As fun as it is to watch real estate shows where a virtual mock-up of what could be accompanies each home showing, it’s not real life. Even for interior designers and decorators, inspiration isn’t going to come immediately. It takes work to uncover the design possibilities each space holds. For Vanessa Francis, the task was even harder because she and her daughter were moving into a much smaller house after her husband passed away last year.

Vanessa, an interior decorator, purchased a home five months ago in Milton, Ontario. Its smaller footprint compared to her previous house in the same town meant Vanessa had to get creative with utilizing the space well. “Since the home is over a thousand [square] feet smaller than our previous home, it was a challenge to lay out the furniture, especially in the open-concept living and dining room which runs parallel to the kitchen,” Vanessa explains. She started imagining and redesigning the space to serve her and daughter Maya well. “I really wanted the home to be more us and have our stamp on it. It was a typical builder home with next to no upgrades and it felt dark and sad. I wanted to lighten and pretty it up for my daughter and me. I know it sounds corny, but I wanted our new home to be a peaceful and happy haven for us after our devastating loss.” For the kitchen, that meant white cabinets, glass upper cabinets and a large blue island with plenty of room for Maya to do homework or for dinner guests to congregate.

Scraping the ceiling, installing new flooring, painting the walls and the cabinet installation all happened in three weeks before Vanessa and Maya moved in. “When we first saw the home, all the walls were a dark grey, the kitchen cabinets were dark brown and there was a combination of dark laminate and cheap floor tiles throughout the space. I wanted to brighten and simplify the space. Getting the shell right — floors, walls and ceiling — was important,” Vanessa shares. Once they moved in, Vanessa finished the kitchen remodel with drapes, stools and accessories. The kitchen before the makeover was short on counter space and cabinets because of a small eat-in dining area competing for square footage. Vanessa knew that expanding her workspace, increasing the pantry size and creating a more beautiful space would serve her better than an extra eating nook.

The result is a beautifully designed space. The blue-green island, moldings, and built-in look of the wall-to-wall white cabinets give the once dark and cut-off kitchen a new and lovely life. “I am most thankful that my daughter and I have a warm and peaceful home where we can heal and be happy again.” –Lauren

Photography by Ashley Capp


Counter by Silestone
Faucet by Blanco
Moulding by Metrie
Hardware by Top Knobs

  1. Marti says:

    This looks beautiful – much homier than before. I love that you were able to work with the existing cabinetry while still making some high-impact changes to their layout. The above-the-sink cabinet modification was such a clever alteration!

  2. Ranae says:

    I love the homey feeling! What material is the floor? Hardwood, laminate, vinyl?

    1. So happy to see our kitchen on Design*Sponge. It is my favourite part of our new home and it turned out exactly how I had envisioned it. Thank you for the lovely feature!

      1. Oops – my comment above shouldn’t have gone there.

        Thanks Ranae. The floor is a wire brushed white oak hardwood in a dark stain. It’s throughout the entire house except for the bathrooms and laundry room.

  3. Lois Vinsel says:

    Well done!!

  4. So happy to see our kitchen on Design Sponge. It is my favourite part of our new home and it turned out exactly how I had envisioned it. Thank you for the lovely feature!

  5. Amy says:

    I almost never like white kitchens instead of ones that feature wood, but your new kitchen is gorgeous! On a more important note, I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband and so happy you were able to create a beautiful new space for you and your daughter.

  6. Malia says:

    Looks lovely! Was wondering if you still have a microwave somewhere, or did you scrap it altogether.

    1. Hi Malia. Thank you. Yes, we have a small microwave that sits on the counter to the left of the range. For the photos, I replaced it with a tray of items. You know, photo styling and all. :)

  7. Wow fantastic befor and after!! I love the blu-gray colour with white, really cool and nordic :) I use blu gray in many of my projects.

  8. Vanessa is super talented. Her kitchen and bath designs are top notch! I love the dramatic before and after here. Look how she used that blue/grey colour – very pretty and bright.

  9. Kelly says:

    Fantastic remodel – it’s so light and bright and I can see how it would be very comforting at a needed time. Vanessa is so talented and I love seeing her work!

  10. Dominique says:

    So pretty! What is the island color?

  11. Thanks Dominique. The island colour is Benjamin Moore Night Train CC-720.

  12. Jill says:

    Beautiful and more functional as well. Not only was the old kitchen dark and dreary, but all of the function was squished in the corner. Moving the sink and dishwasher over a couple feet made a huge impact. As did the extra pantry space and more usable, less bulky kitchen island. The colors are light, bright and happy. I hope that feeling spills over into this new chapter in your lives.

  13. Liz says:

    What a classic kitchen. You did a lovely job. What color Silestone did you go with? I really like the look of marble, but also need something more forgiving. Thanks!

    1. Hi Liz. Thank you. The counter is Silestone’s Snowy Ibiza and I have to say that I am in love with it. It’s neutral and warm.

  14. Beautiful space! I love the blue of the island. I hope you and your daughter find some peace in this home. xoxo


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