Five minutes with designer Jillian Harris

Jillian Harris wants you to love the home you’re in. In fact, as the style-savvy cohost of W Network’s Love It or List It Vancouver, it’s her job to serve up renos so spectacular that homeowners are convinced to stay put instead of selling. During a recent visit to Toronto, the makeover maven revealed her recipe for renovating the heart of the home itself: the kitchen.

Brett Walther: How do you make the most of a kitchen that’s strapped for space?

Jillian Harris: “I start by installing cabinetry that runs right up to the ceiling. Nothing bugs me more than open space above upper cabinets; it always ends up as a dumping ground for faux plants and dirt-collecting ornaments. That’s really valuable storage space, especially for seasonal items and kitchen tools that you don’t use often. In the lower cabinets, I’m crazy about installing drawers instead of shelving; they save you from getting on your hands and knees to reach things at the back of the cupboard.”

BW: Do you downsize the appliances?


JH: “Although I might consider a smaller stove, I never skimp on the fridge. When it comes down to it, you can always store things that don’t need to be refrigerated in the fridge, but it doesn’t work the other way around.”

BW: Should kitchen appliances always have the same finish?

JH: “I wouldn’t pair black with stainless steel, or black with white, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match. In my house, I have a white dishwasher, a stainless-steel fridge, brass chandeliers and nickel pulls. The more you mix metals, the more it looks like your house has evolved over time.”

BW: If you were given a budget of just $50, how would you refresh a kitchen?

JH: “Less is more when it comes to styling a kitchen. I’d pull everything off the countertop, then, starting with the biggest items, I’d bring some things back, piece by piece. A few cutting boards off to the side, a cute little pitcher full of wooden spoons, a mortar and pestle, some fresh flowers—and that’s it!”


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