Places affect people differently.

Perhaps you have visited the Caribbean and have yearned ever since to have the same feel of turquoise water, blue sky and white tides in your Canadian home.

When I lived in England for three years, I realized much later that part of the reason I loved the landscape was the fact that it was so green — my favourite colour. Myriad different shades of green at every turn await, while out on a walk or country drive, and I found this palette both beautiful and relaxing wherever I went. I have always loved the colour green so it’s not surprising that England had this effect on me.

You might not initially make the connection between what you are drawn to and why. My client, however, knew exactly what she was drawn to prior to embarking on a large-scale renovation in her Town of Mont Royal home, which she shared with her husband and two teenage boys. She had attended a medical conference in Florence, Italy, and had fallen in love with this beautiful old city.

When she asked me if I could create a Florentine-inspired kitchen in their new extension (almost doubling the footprint of the main floor of the house), I wasn’t sure where to start. I had been to Florence about 25 years ago and I could visualize what she loved about this “old world” city – but how could I give her this in a brand new kitchen?

The trick is not to be literal in design. Rather strike to evoke a mood.

For example, recreating the Duomo in a hand painted wall mural would be too literal, not to mention boring at best and tacky at worst. Evoking the same mood was to recreate the palette and patina of the city of Florence in a much more subtle way.

I therefore aimed to incorporate the colours and architectural shapes of the photographs she took on her trip. By using a greyish green cabinetry (instead of the more common brown or grey) the palette is softer and more “old world.”

The gothic-inspired upper cabinets and the island pendant lights also recall the arched-shaped windows in the buildings she photographed. An obvious choice for the backsplash would have been the beige-honed marble tiles one sees everywhere. When I found these contemporary marble strip tiles in the exact palette, I knew I had found the right balance between inspiration and something less obvious.

If you are struggling to find the right “look” for your home, or just one of your rooms, think about the places you have visited that have made you feel at peace or inspired. Then, work to recreate this mood with your choice of colours and materials.


It doesn’t matter if anybody else is aware of your inspiration. By reflecting your personal memories, your home will be more special to you.