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Counter Intelligence – What I Chose for My New Kitchen Countertops

Silestone by Cosentino Kitchen Countertops in Ariel

A well-planned layout is crucial to create an easy flow in a spacious open-plan kitchen designed for more than one cook and lots of family and friends! In my new home, it was important to me to design a kitchen that spoke to my design aesthetic and lifestyle – a social place where everyone, including me, could enjoy cooking, dining and entertaining in style and comfort. As an avid cook with a large family and three active dogs – and a couple of doggie cousins, I wanted my kitchen to be bright and feature high-performance, easy-to-maintain, durable surfaces. I chose Silestone by Cosentino Ariel countertops for all the surfaces in my kitchen including the large island, breakfast bar and secondary island, for a seamless look that’s light, airy, and a breeze to clean. 

A beautiful monochromatic mosaic marble backsplash from Ciot is the jewelry that adorns the pristine white quartz countertops used throughout the kitchen. Kitchen cabinetry by Parand Design in soft gloss with nickel handles by Berenson Hardware continues the clean modern look.

If the kitchen is where you spend most of your time with family cooking, dining and entertaining, think as big as your budget and space will allow. You’ll save time and money if you choose durable work surfaces in timeless, simple designs that are easy to keep clean. Quartz is a non-pourous, food-safe, scratch-, stain- and scorch-reistant surface that’s perfect for any busy culinary kitchen. It’s not only practical for islands and countertops for preparing and serving food, with so many designs and colours available today, quartz provides a gorgeous surface for informal dining and entertaining in the kitchen. Always hire a reputable kitchen designer who is well-connected to a qualified team of reliable, certified trades, contractors, and suppliers to ensure a successful installation of all your kitchen finishes. 

My second island comes in handy as an additional surface for baking, gift wrapping and serving up cocktails and appetizers when entertaining or just hanging out with friends.

Above: A small breakfast bar is one of my favourite places in the kitchen. It’s where I sit and enjoy the view over morning coffee and croissant each morning. And even better, it goes without saying that my beverage station with a wine-lovers Thermador wine reserve column, beats out the breakfast bar by a nose…or a glass of wine! Creating zones in my kitchen has added convenience distributing the activities – and bodies – throughout the kitchen, especially good when I have a houseful of family and guests. Countertops: Silestone by Cosentino in Ariel , Cabinetry by Parand Design , Floors by Lauzon

A pantry is a must for any culinary kitchen offering additional storage for large baking & cooking items, bulk foods and kibble for 3 dogs.

Above: l love my walk-in pantry. Rather than incorporating it into the kitchen proper, I positioned it outside my kitchen, just behind the appliance wall. Along with floor-to-ceiling open shelves and cupboards, I also added a small coffee station featuring a Silestone Ariel countertop that comes in handy for preparing snacks and beverages when entertaining.

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Photos by Paul Chmielowiec,

Patio Pleasures from Jardin de Ville

Shopping for unique and innovative patio furniture at Jardin de Ville’s new summer showroom at 1400 Castlefield Ave, Toronto.

Spring has never been more anticipated or welcomed by Canadians! Mother Nature has tested our patience this past winter but as reliable as the crocus, forsythia and daffadils in our garden, she always delivers spring, although stylishly late, to brighten our lives. Spring has finally arrived!

And there’s more good news! Spring has sprung at 1400 Castlefield Ave, Toronto where Jardin de Ville opened their new summer showroom, the sister showroom to their permanent 44 Sherbourne St, Toronto showroom.

My design team and I frequent the Castlefield Ave design district so we’re delighted to have another fabulous resource for incomparable, high-quality design in the neighbourhood.

A Quebec-based company, Jardin de Ville is a leader in both design and retail of high-end outdoor furniture. With four permanent showrooms in Quebec, one in Toronto, and one in Fort Myers, Florida, Jardin de Ville offers numerous of collections, including brands such as Cane Line, Manutti and Roda.

Well established on a national level, Jardin de Ville distributes worldwide including France, Bahamas, and Korea. Their expertise extends with the production of outdoor pavilions and textiles, all of which are manufactured in Mirabel, Quebec.

I was pleased to be asked by Jardin de Ville to share a few of my must-haves patio pleasures from their beautiful outdoor furniture collections. As it turns out, I was already swooning over Jardin de Ville online to furnish my two new patios this spring. I love the modern looks, unique materials and durable weather-proof finishes of their collections. They’re perfecty suited for the mid-century modern style of my new home and my family’s outdoor lifestyle.

Made of a combination of high-performance synthetic materials that mimic natural rope, wicker, rattan and rust-resitant, aluminum, my selection of Jardin de Ville’s furniture featured here is built to last and will stand the test of time when it comes to style. Whether furnishing outdoor living spaces that are under cover or open-air, these super-comfy and stylish pieces will stand up to the elements for years to come.

I’ve chosen five fabulous pieces manufactured with aluminum frames to make them easier to move around and a breeze to keep clean with warm soapy water and a garden hose! Manufactured with over thirty unique weather-resistent materials including Aluminum, steel, cast iron, PVC and teak, the design options are limitless.

This summer, create a seamless transition from inside to out with beautiful furnishings designed for living outdoors in grand style.

KOBO Collection by MANUTTI

Made of chunky natural rope on an aluminum base, this KOBO Collection chair and sofa simply says “Sit and stay a while!” Crafted in treated synthetic rope this unique collection requires little maintenance, is weather and UV resistant, and dries quickly, making it perfect for outdoor use. This collection can be cleaned occasionally with mild household products.


Dine alfresco in style with SIENNA Collection by Jardin de Ville aluminum dining table with a unique ceramic wood-look top. These MOMENTS Collection by Cane-line chairs featuring a UV protected woven rope design on an aluminum base are comfy and cool. I love their iconic vintage vibe. All fabrics and materials are treated to be UV and water resistant.


Light up the night and elevate your dining and entertaining alfresco experience with Jardin de Ville’s MACAO Collection intricately crafted in synthetic rattan-wrapped aluminum. The oversized articulating floor lamp and latterns, lit with solar candles, will make an illuminating statement in any outdoor living space.

(I’ve written this blog as a brand ambassador for Jardin de Ville and is a sponsored blog.)

Photos by Karen Kirk

8 Easy Fall Decorating Tips

Fall has to be one of my favourite seasons. From witnessing the vibrancy as the leaves begin to change, to starting the first fire in my living and dining rooms, it is something I always look forward to. As we transition into the fall, I wanted to share some tips that I always look forward to implementing this time of year.

I prefer clean burning open gas log fireplaces in my home and also use electric fireplaces in other rooms of the house. This one is in the dining room of my new home. Wall clad in Dekton by Cosentino “Sirius”; floor by Lauzon, Log holder by Cocoon Home Furnishings.


Colourful clouds of mums when potted in pretty containers, are one of my favourite ways to add pops of fall colour around the house, inside and out!


I gather colourful bunches of fall branches around my property to decorate every room in the house. The branches shown above are great fakes from Crate & Barrel and make wonderful substitutes for the real thing. I often add them to my natural arrangements to make them fuller.


An organic arrangement of pumpkins, gourds and candles make a stunning fall centrepiece on a kitchen table or island. They’ll stay fresh for weeks! I always light candles as soon as I get home. It is nice to set a mood and it makes me feel cosy. Nothing says fall like scents infused with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Just a few more tips…

  • Drape a “way too expensive but glad I bought it anyway” cable knit throw over the sofa or your favourite lounging chair. It’s the perfect accessories for a little cuddle action on Friday nights when I watch bad movies my husband selects.
  • Whirl up a fall veggie soup in the blender, heat and serve! My favourites? Cream of mushroom, potato fennel, tomato fennel and minestrone.
  • Pick up a couple of bottles of Beaujolais nouveau in November!! As a serial white wine drinker, the nouveaus are a welcome diversion after a summer of crisp whites!

Time for some Cider?

Images: Karen Kirk

Modern living room with personality

Designer Jackie Glass shows us a living room and front entrance she designed in the Toronto area that set the tone for the rest of the house.

5 Sensational Spring Floral Arrangements

Just when we’re feeling as gloomy as a dull, frosty February day, suddenly there they are – buckets of bulbs and bunches of fragrant tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and pansies to brighten our day and remind us that spring is just around the corner. Get a little creative with your market-variety spring posies and arrange them in unexpected ways in minutes. These five arrangements are sure to lift our spirits and brighten our days until the snow stops falling and the warmth of the sun encourages these sweet little harbingers of spring to poke their pretty little heads from beneath a blanket of snow in our flower beds once again.


Keep it simple and long lasting. Strip off some of the leaves from a bunch of tulips or daffodils, make fresh diagonal cuts to shorten the stems to the desired height then plop them into a narrow cylindrical vase with some fresh water. Add the florist food that comes with your bunch and remember to change the water every couple of days for as long as they last.


Create little floral vignettes composed of potted violets, fragrant tulips, pansies and hyacinths by a sunny window in the corner of any room. Raise them up on a stack of gardening books on a chair or stool and they’ll look amazing arranged on a tray and placed on a coffee table or dining table.


I can’t bear to throw away the little flowers with broken stems, so before I toss the fading potted bulbs I clip the last surviving blooms and create cheery mini arrangements in a vintage teacup or other small container. The trick to supporting these short little three-inch stems is a glass floral frog that fits inside the cup. You can find these at flea markets and floral shops in a wide variety of sizes. Even though these wee arrangements won’t last long, they’ll pack a punch on a breakfast table or tea tray. Keep in mind that daffodils are slightly poisonous and may contaminate the water, affecting the life of other cut flowers in the arrangement.


This is one of my favourite ways to arrange my tulips. Purchase tulips that are not yet open. Remove some of the leaves and lay the bunch on the counter, out of water for an hour or so or until the stems become limp and pliable. Fill a fish-bowl style vase with about two or three inches of water and add floral food. Once the tulip stems are limp enough to bend, clip the stems on a diagonal and place one tulip at a time inside the bowl, bending gently to conform to the shape of the bowl as shown. Make sure the end of each stem is submerged in water. Stagger the tulips as shown. Tulip stems continue to grow and lengthen after they’re cut so trim them accordingly so they won’t overcrowd the bowl.


Remove tulip and hyacinth bulbs from their not-so-pretty plastic pots and repot them in vintage vessels such as Depression glass pitchers, ceramic jardinières and cachepots. You can find these for peanuts at thrift shops and flea markets. Cover the soil with fresh green moss, pebbles or seashells.

 Happy Spring!

Modern white kitchen reno

Designer Jackie Glass gives videographer Patrick Reynolds a tour of a modern white kitchen she renovated in the Toronto area.

Kitchen Options

Jackie Glass talks kitchens and countertops at ACF Surfaces. Catch full episodes of the Marc & Mandy Show on CHCH, CHEX, Global and NTV every Saturday. Visit for show times and schedules.