before and afterDIY

Before & After: A Calgary Kitchen Gets The Minimalist Treatment

by Maxwell Tielman

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If  you were to ask me my opinion on clutter and “stuff” around the home, I would probably tell you that some clutter is A-Okay. Books, personal mementoes, souvenirs, objets d’art—all of these bits and bobs add to what makes a living space feel like a home. I am all for a little bit of organized chaos. There are, however, exceptions to my rule. If there is one place that I simply cannot abide by clutter (and please note, this is a personal preference—no offense meant to the clutter-bugs amongst us!), it is the kitchen. I’m pretty good at functioning like a normal human being when I’m surrounded by extraneous or distracting items in my space. When I begin cooking, however, my OCD ramps up to Howard Hughes levels and I go practically apoplectic when confronted with things that simply do not belong on a kitchen counter. This is why, when Calgary-based photographer Maria Lang’s kitchen dropped into my inbox, I went into full-on #YAAAAAAAASSSS mode. Worked on in the wee hours of the night by both Maria and her husband, this stunning space is a true labor of love—one that encapsulates all of the ways to do minimalism right. Brilliant white cabinetry keeps everything tucked away neatly, a beautiful concrete countertop adds texture and a touch of naturalism to the scene, and select objects of kitchen design punctuate the space almost like pieces of sculpture. The result is a space that is at once functional and refreshingly zen—one that I would not mind spending a whole evening (or day) in! Check out all of the before and after photos, plus Maria’s design notes, after the jump! —Max

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“Designing and constructing this kitchen space with my amazing husband Nathan has been truly rewarding,” Maria says. “He has gone above and beyond, making every vision I had into a reality. We have made a lot of memories along the way and still laugh about the night we made our countertops together. We were working with counter-specific concrete that begins to set as soon as it’s mixed. Nathan was literally mixing bags of concrete as fast as he could and throwing it on top of our forms as I pressed it into place. Often, he would miss on his throws and by the end of it our kitchen walls and floors were also covered in concrete! It’s been a funfilled journey with lots of smiles and a few tears. We are happy to be done and to have a space that gathers our family and friends together.”

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Materials List:

  • Cabinets: Ikea
  • Concrete countertops backsplash created with Buddy Rhodes Concrete
  • Range: Viking
  • Dishwasher: Asko
  • Refrigerator: Electrolux
  • Custom built in shelves made by Nathan
  • Hickory hardwood site finished by Nathan

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  • What a beautiful kitchen! I really love that you feature Canadian homes on Design Sponge (I live in Vancouver). It’s so great, since in American publications I feel that we’re not included so much – keep up the good work, Grace!

  • It’s really gorgeous! I love all it cames together and happy to see that it’s a canadian homes too:) Can you please give me the source for your dining table and chairs please? And for your cabinet pulls? Thank you and again, good job!

  • Gorgeous. I love it when such stylish kitchens showcase Ikea cabinets. Yay for affordability!

    As well, I’m super psyched that this house is in Calgary, since that’s where I live. :) It’s always fun to get to see Canadian design homeruns too.

  • Oh gosh! Just gorgeous! I can feel my shoulders unclench just looking at these pictures! What a lovely space (and AMAZING countertop)!

  • This is just so lovely. I can’t even narrow it down to a few favourite elements, they are all so good together. Well done!

  • Love the countertops!!! My husband and I are beginning a hands on kitchen reno this year. It’s good to hear that it can be done with kids. I can take the long nights if ours ends up half as good as yours!

  • Absolutely stunning! Question– how do you care for concrete countertops? And do you need to worry about staining or too much heat? Thanks!

  • I must be one of Max’s clutter types because while I love everything about this kitchen I’m most drawn to the beautiful plates, on the beautiful countertops, in the last picture. Who makes them? And THANK YOU for the affirmation that reno done together late at night in the spirit of shared adventure can be fun!

  • D*S,
    I would love to see before and after floor plans on projects like these. Is that ever a possibility?

  • Calgary is my home city so it’s nice to see a Calgarian home on here. Nice job on pretty much everything :)

  • Wow, it looks amazing wouldn’t expect anything less from such a classy family.
    Good job guys see you next get together. -Tiff

  • Those countertops are just beautiful! They actually look warm. The whole kitchen is just stunning in its simplicity, as though waiting for something exciting to happen there! Love the pictures of your little girl running through the spaces, too.

    I’m with the others–would LOVE to see a house tour of the rest of your home.
    Now I’m off to declutter my own kitchen…

  • Wow! I think that says it all. Absolutely stunning with those clean lines and colour choices.

  • Regarding concrete countertops- yes, they stain. We put ours in in 2010. We were warned about staining, and encouraged to embrace the “character” of an imperfect surface. Maintenance is supposed to include application of wax/sealer every year or two. We did not do this until year 3, and I used a product by DuPont called Stone Tech Bulletproof stone sealer, which is food safe. I prepped for that sealer using DuPont’s Stone Tech Klenz All cleaner. Concrete is heavy, hard, and durable, but don’t use it if you can’t handle an imperfect surface.

  • Thank you very much for all of the kind comments. To answer everyone’s questions… our dining set was a Mother’s Day gift from my husband which he traveled to another city to buy off of it’s original owner circa 1960’s and made in Denmark. The cabinet pulls are from a local hardware store Banbury Lane. The brass plates are are by Tom Dixon. For our concrete counter tops we used a product that is more specific to counter wear. We applied a sealer that makes the counters both heat and stain resistant and finally we finished with a food grade bees wax. Thanks again!!

  • thanks Nathan and Maria just what I am wanting to create. this may be a dumb question but I’m guessing the splash back behind the stove is the same counter top material?

  • Lovely, lovely, lovely….
    More questions: Did you strengthen the base of the counters for the weight of the concrete? Did you pour in situ or heave the masses of counter from a work space? Are there any things you would have done differently and why?…So amazed with all of your work…and love the concrete backsplash with shelf.

  • i adore your floors! This is just what I’m looking for for our living room. Are these hickory? Hardwood? We have three young children and soooo many people are telling us they will be wrecked but I just adore the look and the feel of real hardwood! Any info on these? What they are called? Thanks so much !!!!!

  • @ MANCHMAL – The legs on the cabinets can support around 300lbs each and there are four per cabinet. I added blocking under each cabinet, for peace of mind. There’s roughly 1000lbs of concrete there (dry mix), then add the solids weight in the additives…The countertop was poured on site in order to wrap seamlessly around the column. The backsplash was cast in my garage and literally shimmied into place.
    I wouldn’t change a thing if I were to do it again. We achieved exactly what we were going for here, using a press in place technique and a hand trowelled finish. Any other method would probably produce very different results.

    @ Amy – Yes the floors are 5″ Hickory hardwood, which is rated 1820 on Janka hardness, whereas Maple would be around 1450, White Oak at 1360. (higher# = harder wood basically)
    It is holding up wonderfully amidst all the running, sliding, broken glass and plates, and everything dropped! We used a higher-end water-based finish, the name escapes me right now, but put down a good quality finish with 5 or 6 coats. By no means are they wrecked or even nearing that point.

    @ Everyone – Thank you for all the wonderful comments!