When Paulette Lefevbre and Jamie Inrig decided to move in together, they faced a bit of a dilemma. Jamie's West Wellington Village home, where he'd been living for eleven years, was large enough for the couple and the neighbourhood was ideal but the home was in serious need of a renovation.
After two years of searching for a new home, none seemed to have the charm and potential of their current house, even though it was dark, gloomy and chilly with poor insulation. But with all their children grown up, the couple now needed a better space, not a bigger one and the neighbourhood was perfectly suited to their active lifestyle with nearby tennis, squash, golf and cycling.
"Having been here for 13 years I have a lot of attachment to the house and to the street," Jamie explains. "No exaggeration, but Geneva Street is one of the gems in Wellington West. People know each other and genuinely care about each other. For people like us, who feel that strong sense of community, staying and renovating the house we had played a huge part in our decision."
Having acted as the contractor herself on a previous home project, Paulette was no stranger to the complications that come with renovations. With a passion for design and décor and a keen sense of style, she was actively involved in the transformation to keep the original character of the house while accommodating her partner's more laid-back approach to living spaces.
The home's history was also a factor in the design by architect Nick Semanyk of Urban Keios. "We wanted to open it up and create some nice clean lines, but also not destroy the bones of the house," he says. "We found a way to integrate the two."
The contractor, Pierre Sirois of Sirois & Sons General Contractors, agrees that the result is a seamless flow between the old and the new. "Our goal was to create a space that respected the original character and carry it into the new altered space to achieve a fresh and contemporary, yet classic, feel."
The original small galley kitchen was impractical because of a lack of light, counter space, storage and work area. Open cabinets added to the sense of clutter, as did a door leading to an old porch.
Post-renovation, it features crisp white cabinets and a sleek quartz countertop that is softened by an abundance of natural material in neutral tones. A textured stone wall beside the island contrasts the streamlined, modern look and large patio doors replace old windows on the back wall to allow light to flood the open-concept main floor. The warm, muted grey tones of the walls and floors are set off by pops of colour, such as the trendy orange lamp in the sitting area and the colourful runners at the front door.
When you mention the pre-renovation bathroom to Paulette, you can almost see her shudder. "There was only one bathroom upstairs and it still had the old 1950s fixtures - a tiny tub/shower stall, pedestal sink and a larger-than-needed linen closet and counter space," she says. "We realized that we needed to gut the bathroom to incorporate a separate tub and glass shower stall."
Now, an entire wall of glass mosaic tiles sets off the dark paneling and modern fixtures, plus little luxuries like a heated towel rack and heated floors. They also doubled the number of bathrooms in their home by adding a cute powder room on the main floor.
Before the renovation, the storage situation was pretty dismal. Each bedroom only had one tiny closet and, downstairs, the closet at the front door was hidden behind a curtain. Other storage space had to come from various armoires or hutches throughout the house.
"We called the owners of Kwik Kloset, who came in and created loads of carefully-designed storage space in bedrooms, a linen closet and coat closets by the front and rear entrances," says Paulette, a consummate organizer.
Downstairs, a custom-built cabinet between the kitchen and front door holds a small wine fridge, a wine rack, and drawers to house the inevitable kitchen clutter, like mail, that usually ends up on the counter. At the back, they built two large pantries in the addition, which allowed more space for the island, while still being convenient to the kitchen.
LONG AND SHORT OF IT
Obstacles: A fairly tight budget and wanting to maximize living space without expanding footprint
Renovation length: 10 months
Greatest gain: Open space ideal for entertaining; large deck; significantly larger living space; terrific closets; and increased light
Tips from Mike & Fanya Zilberbrant of Acco Renovations:
1. Design it to suit your lifestyle.
2. Visit local showrooms.
3. Work to improve the space you have.
4. Decide whether you to work with existing appliances or to invest in new ones.
5. Plan good lighting above your work areas and eating area.
6. Plan your renovation for the time of the year when it will be least disturbing.
7. Set a budget.
A kitchen's lifespan is 20 years. The important aspects for building a good, functional kitchen include: first class materials; good craftsmanship and technical precision.
Tips from Dean Large of Astro Design:
1. Performance: Are your designing a retreat or a functional space?
2. Shower or tub, or both? Do you actually have time for leisurely baths?
3. Use materials that fit the space, function, aesthetic and level of maintenance you want to put in.
4. Storage: be realistic about design vs storage.
5. Budget: set one, and be realistic.
6. Don't overlook small but important details, like where to put the towel bar and toilet paper holder.
7. Be bold with your finishes.
Colour: It's back! Look for navy, cognac, deep gray and almost tank-like green.
Metals: Instead of brushed nickel, you'll find faucets, showers and bath accessories in brushed gold, platinum, antique brass and oiled rubbed bronze.
Open concept: Rooms totally open to the sleeping quarters with the toilet concealed in its own water closet.
Working with space restrictions is always a challenge for contractors trying to offer clients the most bang-for-the-buck in the two most utilized rooms of the house, the kitchen and bathroom.
Two local contractors were awarded top honours this past winter at the Ottawa Kitchen and Bath Association's Vision Gala awards and they share some strategies with Ottawa At Home.
MEDIUM SIZED GRANDEUR
The appeal of this award-winning medium-sized kitchen by Panoramik Home Improvement's senior designer Shannon Callaghan is in its simplicity and attention to detail. The horizontal walnut cabinetry, which has been painstakingly bookmarked and sequenced so it flows seamlessly throughout, sets off the contemporary white quartz island and counter top. A feeling of lightness is conveyed through the floating cabinets and island, with thin waterfall-style support legs.
"A medium-sized kitchen can absolutely incorporate everything you need," Sharon explains, "which means that your footprint is smaller and your price point is lower." New trends like integrated appliances, where the fridge is reduced to cabinet depth, and dividing the kitchen area into different centers-such as a beverage center that houses an espresso machine, wine storage unit and small fridge for cold drinks--creates additional space. The L-shaped island is a great conversation starter and allows the chef to socialize while preparing a meal.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY
When creating this award-winning small bathroom, Paul Denys of Denys Builds Design says that the plans were driven both by the client's wishes and the need to distill everything down to the bare essence. The shower, for example, is without a door or curb and the room is sloped toward the drain. Tight quarters also meant that they were able to forego the built-in tiled niche for soap in the original design once they realized all the toiletries stored in the cabinet drawers could be reached from the shower. The heated floor ensured that any small puddles would dry within the hour. A full-width mirror and vaulted ceiling lend a feeling of spaciousness, along with the monochromatic colour palate and streamlined counters and fixtures.