Photo: ographr

Last summer, Toronto-based interior designer Cynthia Soda of Soda Pop Design Inc. posted a before-and-after photo on Instagram of a small kitchen she had recently revamped. It was a Tuesday, so naturally a #TransformationTuesday post was in order. She was in the middle of a client meeting when her mother called to tell her that actress Amy Davidson of 8 Simple Rules fame had commented on the photo, and included the raised hands emoji, which had to be a good sign, right?

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Photo: ographr

Davidson wrote, “Oh my goodness!!!! I can’t! This is amazing!!! Can we work together next?!!” So Soda did what any savvy entrepreneur would do in 2018 — she slipped into Davidson’s DMs. “I said, ‘Hey, if you’re serious, send me a note. Here’s my email address and phone number.’ And not 12 hours later, I got an email from Amy saying she absolutely needs help with her kitchen and she would love to work with me,” recalls Soda. “It took me a while to realize this was actually real and I was not being Punk’d!” [Editor’s note: This is a legitimate concern as Davidson appeared on Episode #3.3 of Punk’d in 2004].

“Almost serendipitously, that summer we had planned to go to California on a family vacation. We hijacked our vacation a little bit and I went out to Studio City [in Los Angeles] to meet Amy and measure her place,” says Soda.

Photo: ographr

The project was intended to be a cosmetic kitchen makeover. “But it had some functional issues that weren’t going to be resolved with new paint on the cabinets,” says Soda. “Sometimes the problem runs deeper than just making it look pretty!”

Photo: ographr

Davidson was in desperate need of storage (she didn’t even have a proper pantry), and her existing kitchen island made the small space feel cramped. Soda provided her client with two design plans — one an extensive gut reno and the other a more pared-down, but efficiently organized overhaul. Davidson ultimately chose the second, which kept the wall between the kitchen and dining room intact, and incorporated an eat-in kitchen area with a bench for extra seating.

Photo: ographr

“It’s really all about that clean, simple aesthetic,” Soda says of the kitchen’s neutral palette. “Especially in a small space, I like it to look seamless and cohesive.” While some design enthusiasts have grown tired of the all white kitchen trend, Soda sees it differently: “It’s like a blank canvas for your life to make a mess on!”

Photo: ographr

The first order of business was selecting the Bosch suite of appliances. “With any renovation project I’m working on, I always tell my clients, ‘The first thing you need to do is figure out what appliances you want in here.’ I can design a whole entire kitchen with standard appliances, but if you want to incorporate anything out of the ordinary, I need to know because that’s going to impact where I can put things and how the kitchen is going to be laid out,” notes Soda.

Photo: ographr

The flecked quartz countertop and matching backsplash were sourced from Wilsonart, while the golden-toned hardwood flooring came from Carpet One Floor & Home. Soda chose thermofoil flat panel cabinets and dressed them up with hardware from one of her favorite manufacturers, Emtek.

Photo: ographr

“I like to use the analogy that hardware is like jewelry for your cabinet, so you can always be a bit playful with it. We used different styles of cabinet hardware — like studs, pulls and hooks — that all work really nicely together,” explains Soda.

Photo: ographr

When conceptualizing the design of the kitchen, Soda opted to “extend the existing footprint,” by adding cabinets underneath the windows (formerly the eat-in kitchen area). You’ll notice the counter height then dips a few inches, acting as sort of a built-in buffet. “Amy’s son, Lennox, can help her bake here because it’s not super high,” notes Soda.

Photo: ographr

This bank of cabinetry seamlessly flows into the new eat-in kitchen area, which features ample storage, a dark blue accent wall, and a comfy bench cushion. “Even the bench has latched, pull-out drawers underneath, so Amy’s got even more opportunities to store stuff in there!” says Soda.

Photo: ographr

As Soda and Davidson became fast friends, more design opportunities arose. The duo decided to take on the ground floor powder room, too. “It was a sad little powder room, so we wanted to make it a happier little powder room!” laughs Soda. The need for storage was also apparent in this space. “We used the length of the powder room to create a long, narrow unit with sliding doors. It provides more storage, but everything is neatly tucked away,” says Soda.

Photo: ographr

To give the powder room some much-needed character, Soda wrapped two of the walls in shiplap. “We didn’t cover the whole space — we wanted to treat it a different way than what you’d normally see,” says Soda. The finishes in the power room are another point of interest. “Cynthia encouraged me to mix metals, which was very scary for me!” says Davidson. Soda paired a round gold mirror with a black matte faucet, gold cabinet hardware, and a farmhouse-inspired, black and gold light fixture.

Photo: ographr

With Soda’s guidance, Davidson also picked out two new chais for the luxe seating area adjacent to the kitchen. “Last week, Amy texted me a photo of something else she wanted to buy and was like, ‘I can’t buy anything without you now! I’ve got you right where I want you!’”

Photo: ographr

It’s clear their client-designer relationship has blossomed into a formidable friendship — and it’s all thanks to a praise-laden Instagram comment. “Like I said, it was a little bit serendipitous how it all happened, and I think it’s important for people to just be open to new possibilities,” says Soda. “When I saw Amy’s comment I could have just liked it and done nothing, but instead I acted on it.”

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