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Toronto designer Vanessa Francis is known for her keen eye for design and ability to mix and match textures, colours and finishes to create stunning spaces for her clients. She recently worked on an important project: a redesign of her own kitchen. As we all know, the kitchen is one of the most used areas of the home, so choosing the right design from colour palette to countertop is essential. We sat down with Vanessa to talk about her design inspiration, her lovely new Silestone countertops and asked the Décor Happy design blogger a key question – when it comes to design, what makes a ‘Happy Home’?
Where do you draw your inspiration for all your design projects?
Inspiration comes from so many places, people and things. I look at other designers whose work I admire, whether it be in design magazines (I subscribe to many), books, Instagram or Pinterest. I love dissecting rooms and seeing how top designers create these magical spaces. Also, commercial spaces like restaurants and hotels always seem to incorporate ideas that you can modify and use in a project. Inspiration could also come from a fabric that you love and you could build an entire room around that. And of course, travel, whether it’s visiting historic buildings and noticing the architecture, taking in the landscape or even visiting museums or art galleries.
How did you come to pick your colour palette for your kitchen?
I have always been drawn to the classic white kitchen, especially when they are grounded by dark hardwood. But all white is a bit too bland so the island is the perfect place to add a dose of colour. The grey/green colour I chose is striking and unique without being too bold. Also, I knew I wanted to use a fabric for the drapes which paired well with the Silestone countertops in complementary linen tones. When I added the large-scale sepia art and the greige carpet runner, this quiet palette was born. It is punctuated with black and white to provide contrast and interest.
My go to counter choice has always been quartz. I really haven’t specified anything else in my 10 years of being in business. I love Silestone’s range of colours and had it in my former home. When I saw their new colour, Snowy Ibiza, which mimics marble with warm tones, I just knew it would be perfect. I love all the characteristics of Silestone – durable, low maintenance and non-porous.
What about your kitchen makes it unique?
I think the island is unique as it is like a custom piece of furniture with legs. It’s perfect for my narrow kitchen as it makes the kitchen feel larger. The cabinetry and the subway tile backsplash are not a bright white but an off-white veering towards grey. The oversized custom lanterns are not what you see every day and they make a bold statement. Open shelves and glass doors on the cabinetry allowed me to display my favourite things, adding personality and charm.
When it comes to kitchen design what are some of the necessities you incorporate into your design projects?
Function is key to kitchen design so ample work space and storage is a must. I feel that drawers are much more efficient than cabinets; a pantry is a must so all food items are in one place; and cabinets must accommodate large, bulky items whether it be over the fridge or a base corner. Also, a long island where possible is crucial when cooking, setting up a buffet or gathering friends and family around. Varied and ample lighting is key when designing a kitchen. Pot lights, pendants, wall sconces and under cabinet lighting provide both task and ambient lighting – and everything must be on dimmers. You want a kitchen that is low maintenance, whether it be the countertops, the appliances or the floor.
What is your top advice to your clients to create a ‘happier home’?
First and foremost, invest in it. Whether it be renovating/updating the kitchen or purchasing new furniture, updates to make your home more you are well worth the investment. Also, well placed art and accessories finish off a space. It’s not enough to just furnish or renovate a space, you need to take it to the next level with objects and art that are meaningful, add personality and will make you happy!