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5 ways to give your kitchen a distinct sense of style

Whether it's a party, a holiday meal or just another day of the week, the kitchen tends to be a home's pre-eminent destination, the place where we spend most of our waking time. With all this coming and going (and hanging around), kitchens must not only be efficient and functional these days, but also flexible and adaptable. To this end, it isn't uncommon for renovators or new-build owners to knock out walls in their quest for the ultimate, open-plan "everything" space, one that creates a seamless transition between kitchen and family room (and often stretches the entire width of the house).

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THE LOOK Instead of settling for one or two island heights, why not have three? Here, a raised bar with stools, a sizable length of standard-height counter for the main island for cooking and a low, table-height area to create a bar or buffet space.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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ESCHEW WHITE While white is classic, cheery and bright, it can also be stark and clinical, so why not try a cooler shade? Here, two distinctly smoky greys create a looser, more flexible vibe, easily transforming the kitchen from lunch counter to wine bar depending on the hour of day.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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HIGH QUALITY APPLIANCES When it comes to selecting appliances, get the best you can afford, especially in terms of stoves. By channelling your inner chef, you may soon find that your favourite restaurant doesn’t require a reservation.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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USE FABRIC Chairs are far more welcoming when dressed with seat and back cushions. As long as you pre-wash your fabrics to avoid shrinkage and use removable covers with zipper closures, the sins of sticky fingers and messy eaters can be erased with a quick spin cycle.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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SIMPLE INTERVENTIONS Mouldings and trim details are the hallmarks of a custom builder, yet can easily be added to give rooms more stateliness.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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