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Small Kitchen, Big Impact

A small Calgary condo kitchen gets a style boost with cost-effective design.

When a first-time home buyer in Calgary needed help creating a bright airy feel in her brand new condo in the city’s trendy Aspen district—and one that wouldn’t break the bank—designer Alykhan Velji was happy to take the call.

“She’s a younger client, and she wanted it to be bright and fun,” says Velji, principal of Alykhan Velji Designs. The room layout was pre-determined, so Velji’s task was to help the client choose finishes, decor and furnishings. She wanted a fresh, energetic-feeling space, but also had an eye on the possibility of resale down the road. So something with a classic feel and budget appeal was the order of the day.

Timeless and fun

How did the designer do it? By choosing a neutral palette with pops of colour for expression, affordable but beautiful finishes and furnishings, and some special touches.

Starting in the kitchen. “No matter where you’re sitting, you’re going to see that kitchen space,” says Velji, “so it needs to be timeless. We wanted the shell to be very neutral. When you go with grey tones like we did, it can feel cold, so we brightened the whole space up with whites and splashes of colour.”

For storage, Velji chose timeless, painted flat panel cabinets. “With open concept, the last thing you want is super dark cabinetry with dark walls. So lighter cabinetry is important. Velji kept the same flooring throughout the whole space; a laminate product that mimics wood. Stable, affordable and functional, Velji puts it simply:“It’s amazing.”

Natural light

The kitchen backsplash is a very simple, long subway tile. “When you take a familiar element like a subway tile, but use it differently—we stacked it—it feels very modern.” The countertops are Caesarstone.

The island is a natural focal point in the room, but the designer didn’t want to over-emphasize it. “It’s a large island,” he says, “and we didn’t want it to feel imposing in the space. So we kept the pendant lighting simple and not too large.”

In fact, the room has terrific natural light, which Velji accented with a variety of lighting including floor lamps, table lamps and recessed ceiling lighting.

A playful mix

“We also put a bar cart at the far side of the island,” he says. It’s a hot trend that Velji loves. “It’s just so simple. Just put some glasses down to serve your guests. It’s just a perfect little space to do that. “

The living area adjacent to the kitchen was the space to introduce more colour and pattern, to brighten up the rooms and let the homeowner’s personality shine through.

It’s an interesting, and delightful mix. Velji agrees. “We mixed a lot of different design elements. The table is mid-century. The sofa is IKEA—it’s a pull out! It was a very budget-conscious project and it all came together really well.” Something that Velji is very proud of.

“For us it’s always about accessible design. Of course, we do lots of luxury projects, too. But I feel like design should be for everyone.”

Photography by Bookstrucker