The first thing that Pay Chen did when she moved into her 800-square-foot condo near King and Bathurst in 2018 was install an 8-foot-by-2-foot island in the open kitchen.
“It’s a really large island for this space, but it’s my most important piece of furniture,” Chen explains. She enlisted a designer friend to create a custom piece out of Ikea drawers and a Dekton, man-made countertop that mimics the look of marble. “They couldn’t fit it through the weird corners of my condo so it had to be cut in half and then glued back together,” says Chen of the large countertop.
“My decor is my kitchen items. I love seeing these pieces out”
Chen still struggles to find homes for all her various kitchen tools. “Storage is a challenge in condos,” she says. “Every nook and cranny is packed. It is full.” Given her living space’s floor-to-ceiling windows, she can’t install shelving or hang art on the walls. So she uses side tables, carts and standalone shelving to add additional storage space, being purposeful about what items are on display. “My decor is my kitchen items,” Chen says. “I love seeing these pieces out. They remind me of finding them at a garage sale or saving enough money to buy them.”
When hosting friends for meals at home, Chen thinks creatively about how to display and present food. “People are usually fine and casual about eating on their laps or having things spread out on the coffee table,” says Chen. When it comes to baking at home, she admits that it can get chaotic. “This place gets messy in an instant,” she says. Maybe thanks to her TV-set experience, she says that space doesn’t hold her back from baking whatever she wants. “Delicious and spectacular things can come from the tiniest spaces.”