A $150K condo reno in Toronto’s Fashion District features the kitchen as the main ingredient

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Retired couple Isabella and Stuart Kirkpatrick are the exact opposite of snowbirds.

After more than 30 years of living and working in sunny Bermuda — she in financial services, he as a police officer — the duo, who are in their 60s, left the tropical island to enjoy their retirement in a King West neighbourhood condominium.

“Canada is a nicer place to retire in. You can go wherever you want and it’s much less expensive to travel from. I wanted to come back and be around my family. And we knew we could always go back to Bermuda to visit,” said Isabella.

In anticipation of their plans, they bought a 970-square-foot condo when it was still “a hole in the ground” in 2006 for $460,000. When it became occupiable in 2009, they had no trouble finding tenants for the industrial-style space.

By 2018, they were ready to come home. But before they moved in, they wanted to warm up the two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo and add design features that were more in keeping with their tastes and lifestyle.

“When you see these condos that are built with ‘industrial chic,’ it means it’s completely soulless and has no atmosphere. That was what we were dealing with,” said Isabella.

“We enjoy everything to do with cooking, food and eating. We spend an awful lot of energy around our kitchen and the one we came home to was pretty useless. It didn’t have enough working space. And I’d always really wanted some high-end appliances and a more workable and functioning kitchen.”

Designer Svetlana Tryaskina, of Estee Design, took on the $150,000 renovation project, rearranging the layout of the open-concept living room and kitchen, and creating a seamless look that’s functional and beautiful.

To banish the grey, concrete look, Tryaskina designed warm walnut panels to cover two walls. They provide floor-to-ceiling storage in the living room, including a small desk. On the other side of the living room, the guest bedroom hides behind a sliding door that’s concealed in the panel.