The effortless personal styles of Jo Levitan and Maayan Kessler act as a calling card to their collaborative prowess as interior designers. Cool, contemporary silhouettes speak to Kessler, while Levitan gravitates toward sophisticated classics, and it is this fashionable mix that plays a key role in their design vision. “We love the challenge of finding an equilibrium between our two styles,” says Levitan. “When designing interiors, we often look to each other to strike the perfect balance between modern and traditional.”
It’s a stylish equilibrium they aced when reimagining the 400-square-foot kitchen in this Georgian-style Toronto residence. “We wanted to create something really beautiful – a kitchen that didn’t feel like a kitchen,” says Kessler. “And just like putting together an outfit, designing a space is all about layers.” Cabinetry was a key layer that once again revealed the yin-yang dynamic: Kessler was set on zero hardware; Levitan on subtle trim that would add warmth. “We chose cabinetry that had no handles or pulls in order to achieve that ‘hidden kitchen’ effect and impart the illusion of panelling,” says Kessler. “In designing these cabinets, we took inspiration from European millwork we saw in living spaces, rather than in kitchens. Everything, even the fridge and freezer, simply push open.”
New from head-to-toe is never an urbane look, so Levitan was keen to add in something old. “I went on an internet hunt to find salvaged tumbled tiles,” she says of the black-and-white flooring in the adjacent mudroom. “They bring a playful vintage element, so that it’s not all too new.” Their graphic energy defines this area with a sophisticated presence that’s furthered by the backdrop of dark-stained wood.
Both designers say they “got full-body tingles” when they spied the lively Arabescato marble they used for the countertops and backsplash. Given that a young family lives here, real marble, in all of its porousness, might not seem a wise choice, were it not for one of the designers’ secret weapons. “We use TuffSkin, an amazing product that protects marble surfaces from etching and staining,” says Levitan. “Wine and lemon juice disappear in a single wipe. It’s the perfect solution for those who want the beauty of natural stone, but also need practicality.” It’s ideal for the charcuterie and grazing boards the family enjoys here, and Levitan likens the veined showstopper to “the investment piece that elevates the whole space, kind of like putting on a great coat.”
The kitchen isn’t large, so storage was incorporated into the island, and all small appliances were strategically stored to reduce clutter (the pantry door hides bigger items, such as the microwave and coffeemaker). The designers took stock of items the family uses daily and allocated cabinetry drawers for lunch boxes and Tupperware, while layering in clear storage containers for snacks. Form meets this function with chic stools that look as though they’ve been transported from a Parisian café. “The family uses this end of the island in so many ways: breakfast time, crafting, a glass of wine once the kids are in bed. The kitchen is stunning, but it’s also really functional,” says Kessler. And, like a great outfit, it suits to a T.
Shop the Vibe
Octagonal Charcuterie Serving Board,
A blackened oak serving board feels bespoke, especially in a dynamic octagonal shape.
Backless Era Stool,
Order up some bistro flair with backless stools. They’re a chic and easy way to curate a vintage-meets-timeless vibe.