Publisher Leah Lipkowitz’s new kitchen is a refuge from her busy life
BY SUSAN KELLY
PHOTOGRAPHY: DREW HADLEY
STYLING: JEAN MONET
Floral arrangements courtesy of Le Marché aux Fleurs du Village
Publishing is a pressure-cooker world, especially when you helm a fleet of home design magazines¬ – including Montreal Home – and are readying the launch of a sister publication for the South Florida region.
For Movato Home publisher Leah Lipkowitz, the newly renovated kitchen in her West Island home provides a haven, a place to decompress and enjoy life.
This is a cook’s kitchen, even though this entrepreneur has almost no space in her busy schedule to pick up a pan. “You have to look long-term when designing a kitchen,” Leah says. “And I can see myself someday having more time to make muffins or have the family over for dinner.”
Short-term, a recent health kick motivated her to experiment with making quick and healthful dishes at home, a move that helped her drop 20 pounds. She’s now looking to expand her repertoire beyond grilled salmon and chicken.
Part of Leah’s job involves keeping abreast or even a little ahead of trends. And this creates expectations. What if your kitchen turns out to be all sizzle and no steak, style-wise? “In the end I don’t do anything just to please someone else,” she says. “We have to make ourselves happy first. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
And her way, she says, is all about making a strong statement in an understated way. The kitchen’s graygrey-scale colour scheme proclaims timeless and classic, from the snowy white cabinets, built and installed by Cuisines Denis Couture, to earthy gray grey porcelain floor tiles to dramatic black granite countertops.
The kitchen redesign was part of a whole-home renovation helmed by designer Endrée Villeneuve of Vision enVert. Independent designer Leah Dagher acted as project manager and provided substantial contributions to the over-all interior design.
“The house was very traditional, more of a builder basic, when we started this project,” Dagher says. “But Leah is modern. She wanted a bright open-concept space. And she already had modern furniture that expressed her personality, so we made the rest of the house look the same way.”
For the kitchen and bathroom design, Villeneuve worked with Kimberly Sorochina, a designer at Cuisines Denis Couture. “We loaded the kitchen with the latest equipment in terms of pullouts and accessories,” says Sorochina. “For instance, we gave Leah a full pull-out pantry with stainless steel baskets. We used Blum soft-close hardware on all doors and drawers. The white cabinet doors have an acrylic finish,” which Sorochina explains is easier than lacquer to maintain and also reflects the light better.
Sturdy stainless steel handles from Richelieu Hardware fit nicely with the kitchen’s style. Richelieu was also the source for many features, some hidden but important, that make this an efficient, multifunctional kitchen: opening mechanisms, drawerorganization systems, recycling systems, Leaf lighting for cabinets and drawers, Brillante decorative surfaces and cabinet doors, and a pull-out table and hardware such as hinges and slides.
“The solutions provided for this kitchen are founded on the latest universal design trends that revolutionize how we optimize storage space and maximize functionality without sacrificing design,” says Veronique St-Cyr, corporate training and communications coordinator at Richelieu.
And she’s right: all that functionality doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s a clean-lined, good-looking space, a “little black dress” of a kitchen, with impact added through accessories. These finishing touches include the 3D porcelain tiles on the backsplash that have a matte sheen and bold texture, and large globular pendant lights that combine clear glass and gleaming chrome. For a splash of contrasting colour, a LED light panel inset in the end of the kitchen island can be set at whim to different hues at the touch of a button.
Villeneuve also added a custom-made stainless steel feature over the window. Visually, it coordinates with the appliances and funky range hood while drawing the eye upward and giving a traditional window shape some modern edge.
She framed the cabinets and added an inset shelf on tothe island in rosewood to create a focal point. The noble natural wood is also on trend and coordinates beautifully with the expanse of ipe hardwood floors throughout the main storey. “Leah has a good heart, and the rosewood adds the touch of warmth that was needed to reflect that,” says Villeneuve.
Trendiness aside, open concept was exactly the right approach for this kitchen, says Villeneuve. The original kitchen was only 11 by 16 feet, with a closed staircase blocking it from the front of the house. Her blueprint called for removing a wall and building an open staircase to create flow to the front of the house. “By further opening it to the dining room and breakfast nook, the kitchen became an integral part of the main floor,” she says.
Leah had always dreamed of having the kind of house where she lives large and plays hostess. As she prepares to host a friend’s birthday party, she reckons a good portion of the 100-plus guests will gravitate to the kitchen. And ultimately, this kitchen was meant to be lived in. “I hope it shows that you can make a statement that’s beautiful and functional, and enjoy what you’ve created,” Leah says. “Because life is about living, and I enjoy living.”