Expert Q&A: Binns Kitchen + Bath Design

The founders of one of the most iconic kitchen and bath design firms answered some of our toughest questions about how they have remained relevant for nearly 60 years.

Q: Tell us about your history.

A: Binns: In 1957, Joseph and Vera Binns immigrated to Canada with their young family from a small town in England called Beverley. In 1963, they started a home renovation company under the name of Beverley Home Improvements, a namesake from their roots. They were retrofitting Toronto kitchens for Canadian department stores like Eaton’s and Simpsons because of a fancy new invention: the dishwasher. They soon noticed a trend emerging, and expanded their business to offer more services, as well as products to accommodate this new fitted kitchen concept. The Binns began to import some of the very first custom European kitchen cabinetry from Germany to Canada to better serve their client’s needs.

Q: How has the industry changed over the years?

A: The kitchen has evolved. Fifty-plus years ago, the kitchen was a utilitarian space, often at the back of the house, closed off from the rest of the home and not a space where the whole family spent a great deal of time together. As kitchens became more built-in and fitted, with specialized appliances, the kitchen shifted from being a space of isolated utility to a place full of conveniences, including the latest and greatest gadgets. Families began to spend more time in the kitchen as their lifestyles became more casual; the traditional dining room and formal living spaces were used less. Walls were removed and the trend toward the open floor plans were introduced, making the kitchen the centre of the home.

At the same time, the way people thought about how to live in their homes started to change, too, and the kitchen moved from the back of the house. This space needed to be designed and planned by professional industry experts with specific knowledge of the ergonomic functions of a kitchen, as well as the skill to make the room work with the rest of the house. Kitchen interior design today is about so much more than just the kitchen and that’s an exciting shift in the industry.

Q: How has Binns changed over the last several decades?

A: Our evolution is tied to our company name. We began as a small home renovation business called Beverley Home Improvements then shifted to The Kitchen Place once we discovered our niche. As second and third generations joined the business, our name changed again from Binns Designer Kitchens to our now current business name Binns Kitchen + Bath Design.

Q: Can you share one memorable product or project that particularly pleased you?

A: In every project our goal is to successfully create a space that feels natural and intuitive—a space that feels good to be in. There’s a lot that goes into planning and there isn’t one moment that stands out because it’s a collection of successful renovation stories that spans our company history. A good testament to that is how many of our clients come back to us for second and third renovations. It’s the embrace and thank you at the end of a renovation that is special.

Q: How do you describe luxury as it pertains to kitchens and baths?

A: The new definition of luxury is about creating an experience and it’s not as tangible and easy to define as it once was. It’s not about the possession of things, it’s more about individuality. Luxury as it relates to kitchen design today is about investing in comfort and making a space for yourself and your family. Homeowners seem to want to have their spaces reflect more than just their sense of style.

Q: Do you find that with your clients?

A: Design priorities are individual and personal. After the necessary questions designers ask their clients are answered, we ask one additional question: “If your new space could tell a story, what would it be?” That question is often met with a long pause but always leads to a deeper discussion that transcends beyond the typical conversation of what a person or family is looking to achieve with their decor or style ideas for a kitchen or bathroom renovation. It allows our clients to open up so we can be their storytellers.

Q: What are some current trends you have noticed?

A: A trend we are not necessarily surprised by but admittedly currently confused with (and also somewhat smitten with) is minimal-maximalism. It sounds confusing because it is. We understand and love a good juxtaposition and it’s nice to see colour and pattern introduced into modernist design. We’re holding our breath with this new design trend to wait and see.

Q: And what insights do you have for the future?

A:  It may be surprising but we’re predicting a nudge back to the past, and although we don’t foresee the kitchen becoming a fully closed off room again, there is a new trend emerging with a fancy reference to the past, “The Butler’s Pantry.” We can’t wait to see what comes next.