Olivia Ribas always fantasized about having a dream kitchen. It would be a beautiful, light-filled and functional space where she could methodically spread out her ingredients, tools and equipment. “I’m extremely organized,” says the popular Toronto recipe developer, food blogger and photographer behind Primavera Kitchen, a website that gets one million hits per month. In reality, however, she cooked in her small condo kitchen, where she lived with her husband, Pierre DiGirolamo, and their toddler, Thomas. It was a major challenge. For instance, the 15 ingredients that went into Moqueca, a silky fish stew from Brazil, where Olivia is from, turned her counters into a mountain of clutter. “I was always searching for spices,” says Olivia. “I bought paprika every week because I could never find it.” Double and triple-testing multiple recipes was a pain in the compact space, and the kitchen lacked light — not ideal for food photography.
So, in 2018, the couple decided to off-load the condo and relocate to The Beach in Toronto. “I grew up in Salvador, surrounded by the ocean, so water is very important to me,” says Olivia. “When I moved to Canada 12 years ago and saw Lake Ontario, I said, ‘This looks like an ocean; I’m happy.’” Olivia and Pierre found a tree-lined, lakeside street in the neighbourhood that was appealing and started the process of building from the ground up. The house, clad in white Hardie siding, took a year to complete. At 1,750-square-feet (including the basement), with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a powder room, it’s an elegant, subdued and comfortable home for family living.