From The Archives: Suzanne Dimma’s Kitchen Renovation
When H&H editor-in-chief Suzanne Dimma and her husband, designer Arriz Hassam of arriz+co, bought their charming downtown Toronto Victorian, it had a lot of potential — and needed a lot of work. Their budget wouldn’t cover a total kitchen renovation, so they made a few immediate and high-impact changes: the cherry upper cabinets were removed, laminate countertops were replaced with industrial stainless steel, and Arriz designed a showstopping island with a waterfall-style Statuario marble counter that would work with their future plans for the rest of the kitchen.
Eight years later, it was time to take the design up a notch. The appliances were upgraded, the now-tired lower cabinetry was replaced, and everything else was perfectly tailored to their needs. See the renovated kitchen that reflects their mod-meets-trad aesthetic — and that finally fits their life.
Suzanne Dimma and Arriz Hassam approached their kitchen renovation in phases. This way, they could really analyze what they needed from the space, and plan accordingly.
The original plan was to run the new uppers across the entire wall, but Suzanne realized that would make the kitchen feel a little too stark, so a section of open shelving with the marble backsplash running up behind it was added at the 11th hour. The collected treasures displayed here, along with the warm gold sconce on the neighboring wall, give the kitchen a rich, layered feel.
Suzanne and Arriz both wanted to keep their super comfortable barstools — designed by 3rd Uncle Design, where Arriz was a co-owner and principle designer — so the walnut seats helped direct the new palette. The resulting combination of painted uppers, walnut lower cabinets and Statuario marble makes the room feel layered and polished, and imbues it with a sense of history.
Combining classic Shaker uppers in a painted finish with bevelled-edge walnut lower cabinets is visually stimulating. The uppers have no hardware for a clean, modern look, and are painted white to keep the kitchen from looking too dark. Arriz loves to cook, so they splurged on a high-performing Wolf stove and Liebherr fridge. One of Suzanne’s favorite sight lines is to the panelled staircase wall. “I love how old and new details play off each other throughout the space,” she says.
The island was designed so the waterfall sides float off the ground, giving it a light effect. All the cabinetry was painted Shaded White (201) by Farrow & Ball, a shade that pulls from the veining in the statuary marble counters. “We eat here, we work here, we basically live here!” Arriz says.
An awkwardly located vent meant the fridge and pantry could sit flush against the wall, but a narrow space between them had to sit proud of the wall by about 8 inches. Arriz found a fun solution to fill in that space: a wine rack, complete with hidden grooves for the bottles to sit in so they don’t roll around.
Both Arriz and Suzanne didn’t want a dramatic hood as they felt it would overpower the space. The solution was to hide a standard hood behind the cabinet doors for a continuous line of cabinetry. The doors were lined with with stainless steel to protect the wood.
A charming print purchased in Mexico adds character to the countertop.
The previous cabinets had hard-to-reach fixed shelves, but now dishes are better organized in deep drawers. Deep pull out drawers are far easier to organize. ‘They were seriously life-changing,” says Suzanne.
Beside the stove, two narrow cutlery drawers were replaced with one wide drawer, giving a full view of all utensils and serveware — another life-changing organizing move.
No more ingredients languishing at the back of a shelf — the customized pantry features pullout shelves, so the chefs can see everything.
Since the kitchen is so open, Suzanne and Arriz wanted it to feel like an extension of the ground-floor living spaces. The cabinet interiors are from Ikea and are extremely hardworking, but Suzanne and Arriz designed custom doors with elements that evoke a well-made credenza, like standout hardware and bevelled-edge detailing.