Spaces 4 Living

An Architect's Idea Book: Sharing ideas and inspiration to help create beautiful living spaces.

1 Comment

Kitchen Garden

It is the beginning of March, and I am longing for the milder winters of Scotland, as I look out at the white mounds of snow. I could be prepping my soil for planting right now, if I was there. With this being the worst winter in decades on this side of the Atlantic, it shall be a while before I see any young shoots.

I suppose then this gives me time to plan out my garden. Winnipeg has a very short but HOT growing season due mostly to the continental climate on the prairies. Almost everything that I have grown in the past with ease in the UK proves to be a bit more of a challenge in this part of Canada. Its a learning curve, but I shall prevail!

One of the my most rewarding gardening aspects is growing fruit and vegetables.  There is just something to be said when you bite into a homegrown tomato, courgette (zucchini) or aubergine (eggplant).

When one usually thinks of the kitchen garden, the idea of raised cedar planters resonate. The traditional style shown above has had a contemporary facelift. The sharp intersecting planes and different height boxes work really well. The contemporary feel extends to the stone mowing strip between the boxes and the grass. The different widths of stone adds visual interest by adding a different contrast from the long smooth linear timber. The mowing strip not only adds a different texture, but it is also time worth spent when you lessen your weekly navigation of the lawnmower and strimmer. The custom designed privacy screen is the icing on the cake, extending the cedar and the contemporary style beyond the boxes.

On the complete opposite side of the design spectrum, a kitchen garden that is integrated into your overall garden theme. The image above does not show any vegetables, but just think of the idea of bringing your tomatoes and your marigold together. It is not only pretty, but the marigold help ward off the little pests and beasties that may damage all your hard work. There are many other companion planting pairings between herbs, flowers and vegetables that add a natural pest deterrent and a visual interest. A few other characterises that I am drawn to are that the beds are not too deep so there is easy access and there is lots of ground cover to reduce the soil drying as quickly. The latter is all dependant to your choice of plants and how you layer them. Lastly, the central vase could potentially be a rainwater collector (a wider lip would be preferable) and/or a surface rainwater runoff collector. The rainwater run-off flows through a series of inclined drains, beneath the decorative stones, that direct the water to a collection pit.   This is perfect for conserving water for your plants. Even without the bells and whistles, If nothing else a piece of artwork and a few herbs would be a nice central focal point, well other than your prize winning pepper plant!

So why don’t we stretch the idea even further. The lovely Cape Cod cottage pictured above has a whimsical note to the past that brings the potager garden to the front of the house. Who says you need a lawn? Even though the plants are placed in low lying symmetrical rectangular boxes, the array of vegetation brings a sense of playfulness. I love the mixing of textures; broad leaves of the rhubarb, tiny leaves and flowers of thyme, wispy fennel, curly kale and the list can go on. The great thing is that you can mix up the edibles and ornamentals every year.
With a mind full of design possibilities and sketch paper and a pencil at the ready, I shall be scribbling away creating ideas for my garden. Well, until the snow melts!!

Have fun dreaming of Spring!


1 Comment

A Peaceful Landscape Repose

The relaxed and effortless splendor of this outdoor space is truly sublime. The mature trees add a majestic backdrop to the sculptural aspects of the new landscaping.  A sweeping Pennsylvania bluestone pathway is flanked by monochromatic ornamental mondo grasses and boxwood shrubs adding layers of opposing textures and visual interest.  The understated path lighting serves a utilitarian purpose without distracting the viewer from the captivating horticultural layering of the landscape.

A raised seating patio is anchored with a prominent robust outdoor fireplace and BBQ area. The patio features a curved rough cut stone retaining wall that adds a splash of colour through planting perennial purple geraniums. The low maintenance planting creates a ruffled or even a ripple effect as one’s eye moves from the smooth path towards the rough stone wall.

The curvilinear arrangement of the landscape creates a peaceful repose. It encourages you to stop and inhale nature before heading on to where you were destined. What more can you ask for in a place for the grown-ups to unwind in such a beautiful setting.

Exterior-Accents 400x361


Sleek Contemporary Kitchen

This is not your mother’s kitchen! This beautiful contemporary kitchen by Ward-Young Architecture & Planning has me thinking of mountains and forest views. The lofty ceilings, the mix of stone and wood create a feeling of an alpine paradise.

The stone veneer is rustic, heavy and has a great textural presence. It is offset by the smooth faces of the sleek cabinetry. The cabinetry sinks into the overall wood décor of the open plan. By using a similar wood treatment on the ceiling, window trims and door encourages your eye to accept the kitchen as an extension of the room, not as a visually separate room.

The waterfall edge detail of the kitchen island surface boosts the contemporary nature of the space. The backsplash is also in white which enables you to experience the different materials in the space without congesting it.

The flooring picks up similar warm hues as the wood. The large grid pattern of the coloured concrete creates a uniform plane that is not subtractive of the integrity of the high quality materials used in the space.

Overall, this kitchen displays well placed, high quality finishes that amplifies the contemporary design


Leave a comment

Traditional Santa Cruz Kitchen

This house has many features and spaces that just makes it feel so welcoming. It makes you want to get comfy and unwind with a cup of coffee. Of all the wonderful spaces,  I just love this kitchen. The tall windows bring in a lot of natural light and creates a great connection to the outdoors which promotes a good sense of well being.

Along the periphery there is tall white custom cabinetry that extends up to the high ceilings. This is a great way to add more storage and to create a modern edge within the traditional style without overdoing it. The walls and cabinetry are painted “cloud white” and are visually merged together. The ceiling coving also wraps around both cabinetry and walls. Both treatments add to the uniformity, openness and airiness of the space.

A gorgeous butcher block island adds warmth, practicality and a great breakfast area. The corner window seat is inviting and relaxing.

Although I adore this kitchen, there are a few things that I am not taken with. The refrigerator and hob/ cooktop are on the opposite sides of the kitchen.  I could see as being a nuisance if you are like me and run back and forth to the refrigerator for ingredients. The sink is also far from the hob which is an issue when you are carrying a pot of steaming pasta that is ready to drain. Ideally, if one of the appliances were to be located in the island for a smaller work triangle it would be more user friendly. However, I do understand the desire to keep the island free in order to keep the visual of a farm house table work space in the centre of the room. It all depends what you would be willing to compromise: function or style.

Overall, this is a spacious yet cozy room that blends the sensibilities of a family orientated traditional kitchen but does not hold back on the desires of the modern. This is a great area that mixes home cooking, conversation and relaxation for a great well balanced space.


1 Comment

Romantic Master Bathroom

This romantic bathroom boudoir has a beautiful airy feeling that is saturated with natural light. A barrel vaulted ceiling is accentuated with soft floral wallpaper which almost gives the sense of bringing the outdoors in.   The geometric basket weave style floor tiling grounds the room by adding a bit of masculinity. There are separate his and her built-in vanities. The white cabinetry and white marble opens up the room. A free standing mirrored/reflective make-up table and pin tuck chair with a flowing skirt highlights the romanticism of the space by enhancing the free flowing nature of the room