Design

Retro-look stove — The centrepiece to a thoughtful remodel

Playful, light-hearted, and summery — it’s a kitchen that’s a joy to behold and even more fun to work in. It’s also a far cry from the dark galley set-up Morgan Cranley lived with for the first two years after buying this 1930s-era semi in 2013. A wall separated the kitchen and dining room, and two tiny north-facing windows provided the kitchen’s only light. “I used to get in, cook, and get out as fast as I could,” says Cranley with a laugh. She knew the wall had to go. So, too, did the four layers of dingy laminate flooring and cheap cabinetry. The question was, what would replace them?

By opening up the kitchen to the dining room, Grassroots Design ensured that the main window, framed by original shelving, would brighten the entire space. Lively and cheerful, the two framed fabric swatches on the wall were given to the owner by designer Emma Doucet as a parting gift. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen
By opening up the kitchen to the dining room, Grassroots Design ensured that the main window, framed by original shelving, would brighten the entire space. Lively and cheerful, the two framed fabric swatches on the wall were given to the owner by designer Emma Doucet as a parting gift. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

Enter Emma Doucet of Grassroots Design and Build, discovered by Cranley while she was browsing the Houzz design website for ideas. “I could see immediately that Emma was drawn to the uniqueness of older homes, that she would be thoughtful about what we could do.” Doucet swept in with a wealth of ideas, on board with opening up the kitchen and dining room to let the sunshine flood in and enthusiastic about refining Cranley’s vision for the space.

The retro-cool stove, manufactured by Ontario-based Elmira Stove Works, is available in a number of colours. While Cranley’s choice of mint green was on-trend in 1956, candy red (1954), robin’s egg blue (1954), and flamingo pink (1955) are also popular choices. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen
The retro-cool stove, manufactured by Ontario-based Elmira Stove Works, is available in a number of colours. While Cranley’s choice of mint green was on-trend in 1956, candy red (1954), robin’s egg blue (1954), and flamingo pink (1955) are also popular choices. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

The centrepiece to that vision is a playful retro-look stove in mint green with chrome trim. Manufactured by Ontario-based Elmira Stove Works, the range holds pride of place, backed by a gleaming wall of subway tile and framed by simple Ikea cabinetry. Across from it, a deep kitchen island is anchored by a similarly retro farmhouse sink set into a counter of maple butcher block.

Four layers of laminate flooring were replaced with a penny tile floor carefully laid to match up with the original oak flooring in the dining room. Modern Ikea cabinetry is paired with retro elements such as the deep farmhouse sink, replica 1950s stove, and pressed-tin panels. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen
Four layers of laminate flooring were replaced with a penny tile floor carefully laid to match up with the original oak flooring in the dining room. Modern Ikea cabinetry is paired with retro elements such as the deep farmhouse sink, replica 1950s stove, and pressed-tin panels. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

Cranley loved the warmth of the wood, which prompted Doucet to use maple for all the counter spaces, then fashion the leftover pieces into a series of display shelves for knick-knacks. The penny tile floor replaced laminate, the tiles meticulously set to match up with the original oak flooring of the dining room. Pressed-tin panels on the side of the island and in a modest wall alcove add whimsy while also reflecting light.

Painted a soft baby blue, beadboard frames the Ikea cabinetry, adding personality and a pop of colour. The custom maple shelves add a warm element and match the counters. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen
Painted a soft baby blue, beadboard frames the Ikea cabinetry, adding personality and a pop of colour. The custom maple shelves add a warm element and match the counters. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

At the end of the two-month renovation, Doucet gifted her thrilled client with two framed pieces of fabric — one a vibrant shade of raspberry, the other lime green. They now hang in the dining room, somehow the perfect complement to the whites, baby blues, and pale woods of the kitchen. “I don’t know how she did that,” says Cranley, shaking her head. “I would never have chosen those colours, but they just work.”

She describes her new favourite room of the house as happy and cheerful. Where she would once cook and run, Cranley now finds herself lingering. “I cook here, I eat here, I bring my laptop down and work here. It’s so bright that I never want to leave.”