«The kitchen is a big deal to me,» says homeowner Sano Goacher. «It’s the place where everything happens.» That’s why when she and her husband, Miles, moved into this
Oshawa, Ont., home six years ago, expanding and updating the awkward, diminutive kitchen was their first priority — until the project took on a life of its own.
Having moved from just across the street, the couple loved this house’s cozy layout, flat lot and ravine setting (ideal for their dream backyard). And, no strangers to renovating — they had already revamped their two previous properties — they were all set to update the main floor and create an inviting open-concept kitchen that would flow easily to the outdoors and accommodate casual, comfortable family life. «We never purchased a cottage because we decided we didn’t want the drive every weekend,» says Sano, «so this is basically our home/cottage — that’s how we looked at it.»
But issues surfaced when they began ripping out drywall and tearing down walls: The house was infested with mice, and improperly installed windows had caused structural problems. So the couple — Sano is a registered nurse and Miles is a portfolio manager and investment adviser — decided to gut the whole place. «Initially, we were going to do it in stages,» says Sano, «but we ended up saying ‘Let’s bite the bullet and do it all.’ We just pushed upstairs and kept going.»
A renovation that took eight months resulted in the 2,600-square-foot home’s luxurious cottage-style aesthetic. Upstairs, a fourth bedroom was turned into an expansive master bathroom, and the original bathroom was combined with a small closet to make one large walk-in dressing room (not shown). The downstairs was completely opened up, creating an airy, inviting space that includes the kitchen — denned by a large Corian-topped island, a dining table that can expand to seat 12 and plenty of closed and glass-fronted cabinetry — and two seating areas, all of which flow around the staircase and a wall of storage.
Every decorative detail was chosen with ease in mind. «I like to keep things monochromatic,» says Sano, whose inspiration comes from scouring interior design magazines (even organizing clippings into a helpful look book), browsing websites and picking the brains of talented friends like decorator Mardi Mink of Where Your Heart Is and Cristina Kirby of Oakville’s interior design showroom Cocoon Furnishings. «I’ve always gravitated toward simplicity, and I love linen and shades of white and just keeping everything very creamy.»
The pared-back, neutral scheme she created in turn keeps things simple when her three grown children and two grandchildren, ages 4 and 2, come to visit. White slipcovers, used on everything from the sofas to the dining chairs, are easily thrown in the wash and bleached if necessary. Footprints on the oak hardwood floors, which inevitably appear when people are walking in and out to the pool through the kitchen’s glass sliding doors, are simply wiped clean. «I don’t let my grandchildren run around with Popsicles in their hands,» she says, «but at the same time, I don’t rope off the living room. We wanted the house to be very comfortable, usable and practical.»