PHOTOGRAPHY: KASSANDRA ARBOUR
STYLING: VANESSA FERRO and HALI GALLERNO
A major home renovation can be stressful, and can put a strain on any relationship. But what happens when two designers – a homeowner and her friend – work together on a project? Professional know-how and friendship prevailed in the case of this makeover in King Township.
Harmony and synergy are the watchwords for the combination of homeowner Vanessa Ferro and her friend Hali Gallerno, senior designer and project manager at Bloomsbury Fine Cabinetry, a family-owned company that specializes in handmade framed cabinetry. Vanessa, the principal of Vanessa Ferro Design, worked with Gallerno on a project four years ago, so the two were confident that this collaboration would go equally smoothly.
“She’s much more detail-oriented than most of my clients,” says Gallerno. “I saw the home with Vanessa before they purchased it, and we were excited to get our hands on this kitchen. We saw great potential. For me, it was just helping to put it together to function. We bounce ideas off each other well. It was up to me to take those ideas and bring them to life.”
The house was built in the 1980s, and although it had never been renovated, it boasts 10-foot-high ceilings and good bones. Vanessa bought the house two years ago.
“From the outside, it reminds you of a historic New England home,” she says. “I wanted to make the kitchen fit with the traditional bones of the home.”
When it came to choosing the decor, she says, the house left her with no choice. “There was only one way to go: very traditional. The house decided for me.”
As for the colour in the kitchen, Vanessa had no hesitation in deciding: “The first time I walked into it, I looked at the light streaming in through the large Gothic windows, and could picture only a powder-blue kitchen,” she says. “I wanted a black La Cornue range, and black and white details such as the vintage-look hexagonal tiles used on the floor.”
Gallerno suggested applying a stain as a base coat to the poplar cabinets before painting over it. Once the cabinets had been artfully distressed in just the right places, the warmth of the wood came through the paint colour. Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray is used as the main cabinetry colour.
Gallerno says that the kitchen’s style could be described as a combination of “English country manor meets Parisian bistro. This kitchen was meant to look like a collection of beautiful things rather than completely new.”
A standout feature in the kitchen is the large black pantry cabinet, featuring doors inset with antiqued mirrors. The mirrors were the perfect inspiration for designing the home’s pantry to look like a piece of vintage furniture from a French brasserie.
The kitchen is arranged with the time-honoured work triangle of sink, range, and refrigerator, but there’s nothing old-time about the appliances except the look of the La Cornue range, which has a century-old aesthetic and modern-day technology.
The other appliances and fixtures also suit the look of the room. The island showcases a large apron sink with a Waterstone faucet in an antique brass finish, and a matching pot-filler above the range. Fridge and freezer columns by Miele are integrated into the cabinetry, as is the Miele dishwasher in the island. A Miele speed oven tucked under a countertop rounds out the appliance list.
The actual design and construction happened surprisingly fast. Planning took approximately two months, and installation and finishing about eight weeks. Vanessa chose Bloomsbury because she knew that the hand-crafted cabinetry would be of high quality, showing great attention to detail. “You’ll notice the little corbels under the crown molding that were cut and sanded by hand, or the decorative bead board on the ends of the island,” Gallerno says.
Vanessa also relied on Bloomsbury to keep on schedule, as the company did. “The kitchen was delivered on time and the installation team was great,” she says.
“I love it,” she adds. “That black cabinet is my favourite piece and when I look at my powder-blue kitchen cabinetry, I just smile. Every day, walking into this home, I feel a sense of calm and peacefulness.” •