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Sarah's House 4: First Impressions & The Kitchen

by - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On this week’s episodes of Sarah’s House 4, we saw Sarah and Tommy transform the Front Hallway (beige area), Mudroom, and Powder Room (orange area) and then the Kitchen (grey area). And I won’t hesitate to say I LOVED the rooms and thought this is the signature Sarah & Tommy style I've been waiting for!


Sarah planned to spend $6,500 of her $100,000 builder upgrades in the entry spaces. She started with the large 200 sq ft front hallway which needed to make a big impact. That couldn’t be done with the standard builder finish of ceramic tile from the front door all the way back to the kitchen. Instead, Sarah upgraded to a highly veined Cippolino marble from CIOT in the entry, hardwood in the rest of the hallway, and slate in the mudroom and powder room.

From the cream, grey and beige in the marble, an energetic palette of yellow and brown fabrics was used on two benches, an armchair and toss pillow. An Ikea rug was used too - I love the mix of high and low! Because of the abundant space, a large scale sideboard with storage was used in place of a console and tall sconces from Elte that projected out from the wall were added overhead.

Designing tips:
  • Natural stone tiles can have lots of variation in colour. See if you can order extra tiles and return what you don’t use. That way, you can use only the tiles that look similar.
  • Enhance the feeling of grandeur by using taller baseboards and crown moulding
  • Save money by getting the standard stair railings but painting them in a classic finish – white risers and spindles, and stained treads and handrail
  • Use paint to accentuate and draw the eye. Sarah painted the ends of the entry in a dark Elephant grey (SR58) and the sides increamy Bubbles (SR5) from her paint line.
  • When rooms or spaces connect to one another, tie them in with complementary colours, materials, and furnishings

In the powder room, Sarah used this fanciful A-Twitter wallpaper for dramatic impact. Paired with an ornate shell mirror, a large pedestal sink, vintage shelf, and 1940’s brass fixture, this “salad” as Tommy called it, works because it’s small doses in a room you spend only a bit of time in.

With the wallpaper as a jumping off point, Sarah put a bold orangey red on the adjoining mudroom wall. To balance the colour, Sarah installed tongue & groove paneling 48” up the bottom half of the wall. This provided extra durability against scuff marks and structural support for hooks for bags and coats.

Overall, these colourful entry spaces welcome you into the home and set the tone for the rest of the house. Upgrades totaled $5958 which I think was well spent for this grand house.


Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes and Sarah aimed to make this kitchen a showpiece by allocating a sizable $15,000 in upgrades for this room. To spend this money wisely, Sarah did a lot of planning, planning, and more planning. Before construction, Sarah made changes to the floor plan and flipped the kitchen and family room to create a larger kitchen and improve flow of the entire ground floor.

Next step was a visit to the cabinet manufacturer where she explored options for adding crown molding, glass doors, architectural detail, and paint to the cabinets. Speaking of paint, Sarah eschewed the predictable white cabinets and went for a light grey Shoreline (SR43) on the perimetercabinets and dark grey Herringbone (SR73) on the island. She paired this with the builder’s standard charcoal granite but upgraded for a honed finish to give the counters the look of expensive soapstone.

To personalize the space, Sarah added unique details like:
-       Large scale carriage lights over the island
-       Fish scale mosaic tiles from Saltillo for the backsplash
-       Painting vintage pieces (dining table and chairs, etageres from foc!) to unify them with the cabinetry and add character
-       Foregoing the builder’s handles and buying more stylish chrome knobs and handles elsewhere
-       Putting a bar fridge, raised seating area, and bar sink in the island (at an upgrade cost of $2ooo!) to really make this a kitchen for entertaining
-       Running the hardwood into the kitchen for consistency and to add warmth to the cool space
-       Installing full height blinds which make it look like the windows are as talls as the cabinets

The upgrades for the kitchen came in at $29,770, almost twice the budget. But really, I think Sarah and Tommy have created a custom kitchen for a fraction of the cost. The effect is a bright, beautiful kitchen in the day, and a loungy sophisticated space at night. Sounds like every cook’s dream, right?

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