The Little Kitchen That Could

There is nothing more exciting than buying your first home! Our clients made the big purchase with some big renovations in mind. In a previous blog we discussed the bathroom renovation we did for them, and this time it's all about the kitchen! Their kitchen had never been renovated, and I do mean never. It was in need of major update both functionally and aesthetically. 

Bungalow Kitchen

Who: L&J - first-time home owners!

What: 50's bungalow in the Strathearn neighbourhood.

When: Late Fall 2017

Years lived in: Under 1 year

Since the kitchen had such a small footprint, we wanted to make the most of every square inch. There was an unnecessary bulkhead taking up lots of cabinet height, the layout wasn’t well thought out, and there was hardly any counter space. Oh and did I mention there wasn’t a dishwasher!

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The biggest challenge of this kitchen was the layout. We worked on many many different iterations: from a little movable island, to having a little nook to house the oven, to adding an entire wall of cabinetry that didn't exist before, which was the winning idea. 

The kitchen was flooded with natural light so we knew that we could do something special, we presented the idea of an all black kitchen. The clients loved it and we ran with it!

Ge ready for dramatic after photos - drum roll please…

For the record this is a 6 month pregger belly!

For the record this is a 6 month pregger belly!


Black cabinets may sounds scary and dark but coupled with so many other bright elements in this room it feels anything but dark. White subway tiles with white grout kept the space feeling bright, its also a timeless look that won’t date quickly. Bright white quartz counters and durable light coloured vinyl floors further keep the space bright.

Like every renovation we were keeping a close eye on the budget. The custom cabinets took a big bite out of the budget so we needed to find savings in other places.  We opted for a simple 3x6 subway tile backsplash and  3/4" thick quartz counter, slightly thinner than standard thickness it’s barely noticeable but gave us a little savings.

Another budget friendly option were the floors we selected. The floors needing replacing, and there was a very bossy honey wood laminate in the adjacent room, so we didn't want to compete with another wood tone. Our first thought was tile, but tile would be costly as it would require a new sub floor and would cost more to install. The other consideration is that tile can be cold and quite hard underfoot. We ended up choosing marmoleum product from Adura. It didn’t require a new subfloor, installed quickly and feels a bit warmer underfoot.

One of my favourite details in this kitchen is the brick chimney, if you look at the before photos you will notice it was hidden behind a cabinet. The cabinet was narrow and pretty useless. After a look in the basement I had a suspicion we might be able to uncover brick and I’m so glad we did! It adds so much warmth and interest to the space.

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Appliances can add a lot of bulk to a kitchen so it is worth choosing them wisely. For this kitchen we ended up sourcing a fantastic 30" wide counter depth fridge through Bloomberg that didn’t protrude into the room.

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This may have been a vintage home but our clients wanted a fun choice for the central lighting fixture. We selected this gorgeous light fixture from Illuminate Vintage, along with the pretty polished nickel sconce above the sink. They are made to order so you have the option of choosing your metal finish and your shade.

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This little kitchen turned into a big success. I am so pleased with the final results, not only does this kitchen look beautiful but it really functions well. We used every square inch and planned out the placement of every utensil. In the end we made a kitchen that used to make our clients frustrated into a space they love to be in.


Photography: Jillian Schecher

Contracting: McCormick General Construction

Flooring: Carpet Superstore

Cabinets: Gem Cabinets

Appliances: Coast Appliances

A Family Home

Quality is not an act. It is a habit.

- Aristotle

The goal of every project is A) a happy client, and B) a beautiful quality project.

I'm so happy that this project resulted in both! Mind you, it took a a wee bit longer than we had planned.

The gestation of most projects is longer than clients expect, but in my experience rushing things has never ended well. There are tears in design and they often result from short timelines or disappointing results. 

When our client reached out to us she had spent a few years compiling photos, plans and dreams for her space. The project was to include the kitchen, dining room, living room, pantry, front entry and eventually the stairway and powder room were added. 

We spent almost 12 months working on this project, and considered everything right down to the most minute detail. It was a pleasure when our clients walked in the door and saw the finished product.

Since it was such a big project I'm going to break it up into a few parts. Let's start with the heart of the home - the kitchen! 

Who: Sherry + Phil and their son

What: Kitchen Renovation

When: Spring 2016 - Summer 2017

Years lived in: 10 years

The old kitchen suffered from a bad layout, beige cabinets circa 1980's, and outdated appliances. It had room for improvement!

Ready for a dramatic BEFORE?

The first order of business was taking down the wall into the dining room to allow for a peninsula. We did countless layouts and finally landed on one that made the most of the space. 

Our client wanted to add style and substance to her home which meant considering all of our choices carefully: trim, paint, hardware. It all needed to say quality!

This was our clients dream kitchen and it needed to check all the boxes, but it also needed to be a wise investment, so there were decisions to be made. Where to spend and where to save?

Cabinets - Splurge

These cabinets were solid wood doors and boxes, custom sprayed and with dove tail drawers and soft close. The appliances were panelled, the vent hood was custom, we added a built in bar and glass doors with custom antiqued mirror backsplash. It was a big part of the budget but worth every penny! 


Faucet & Backsplash - Save

We didn't choose a particularly large sink as we were trying to maximize the counter space, this meant we could choose a bar/prep faucet rather than a full size faucet. You probably wouldn't notice the difference, but with a slightly smaller reach it's best suited for smaller sinks and the client saved hundreds of dollars.

The backsplash was a classic Carrara marble, trust me I tempted our clients with beautiful mosaic marble options and multiple patterns, but by sticking to a classic size and an easy pattern to install, they saved on the budget without sacrificing style.


Appliances - Splurge/Save

Our clients elected to choose Ikea appliances for the microwave, oven, stove top and vent hood. Ikea now offers a fantastic warranty and excellent value in their appliances. This is always a great place to save on your kitchen budget, a high end kitchen package can easily exceed 30k.

The fridge and dishwasher were both panelled so they were a bit more of a splurge but worth it because they impact how the kitchen looked. 

When your budget recovers you can upgrade your appliance package (if you chose standard sizes).


Fun details!

Our client was open to trying new things and that isn't always easy. We fell in love with the idea of antiqued mirror in the bar and in the china cabinet. Well let me tell you - it's not an easy thing to find and it's not inexpensive. Me and my team called all over North America getting pricing, eventually finding a place in Calgary that could do it. Our client happily drove the 7 hours round trip to pick up her mirrors.


Knobs and pulls - my oh my this was the source of many many emails. If you are getting a kitchen designed please do not choose the hardware available at the kitchen showroom. There are so many beautiful options and doing something different will take your kitchen to the next level. Make sure to ask your kitchen manufacturer what size the their template will work with so you don't incur any extra charges.

After waiting on backorders and getting short shipped, our beautiful Anthropologie knobs finally arrived. Of course nothing's easy - the posts were too long and all had to be cut back but they were worth the wait!


Don't be afraid to mix hardware vendors, the lucite knobs are Anthroplogie but the rest of the pulls are from Lee Valley. The appliance pulls are from Richelieu - if you are considering panelling your appliances be prepared for the cost. A pull for a fridge can range from $100 - $300 each and most units need 3!


In every project problems come up, we ran into a big one when the cabinet maker hadn't taken into account the size of the crown moulding that was throughout the rest of the house and was meant to go above the cabinets. The cabinets could not be changed but I came up with a plan! 

We decided where to make the transition, and created a design where the crown went on the ceiling to look like it was the height of our chosen crown. In the end it became one of my favourite details. The 8 foot ceilings magically looked like they were 10 feet tall, something that could be easily replicated and cost was minimal. To keep the trim cohesive we had it sprayed the same colour as the cabinets. 

*Do you see those beautiful ceiling? Hard to believe they were once covered in unsightly popcorn ceilings!


This was such a wonderful project, I can't wait to share the rest!

J xx

Loft Closet Renovation

You know the saying about there being an elephant in the room? Well when our client called us to help her design a new closet, that was the perfect way to describe the existing closet situation.

A beautifully appointed industrial loft in the center of downtown had so much working for it... until she introduced us to her bedroom closets!

The closet was a poorly designed brown vinyl wallpaper wrapped box. Needless to say- it didn’t float our boat. When is brown vinyl wallpaper a good thing?

Here is a little before:

Pretty bad... right? We started by creating an e-design after asking our client a lot of questions about her wardrobe. How many pairs of jeans does she have? Folded or hung? Workout gear? Functionality is crucial.

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We turned to the Ikea Pax wardrobe system and a little customization to make our client's dreams come true.

These closets sat right across from her bed so they needed to be beautiful and that is just what we created – ta dah!

We wanted her closets to be extra special so we customized the doors by cutting out the top panel and installing a beautiful metal detail. We sprayed the metal grates with gold Rustoleum spray to compliment our chosen hardware.  

Basic white wasn’t going to cut it for our client so the doors were sprayed in the lightest shade of grey.

Whether you are doing Ikea kitchen cabinets, dresser or wardrobes; my design tip is to NEVER use the supplied handles or knobs. Changing them out for something different sets a big box purchase apart. For our client we chose beautiful glass knobs from Anthropologie. 

For added convenience LED motion censored lights were added to each closet. When she opens her doors they illuminate her wardrobe. Let there be light!

I’m a big fan of the new drawers from Ikea with a Lucite front. 

When all was said and done - the brown wallpaper closets became ancient history, and her new closets were beautiful, unique and functional (and didn't cost the world!)

Splurge vs. Save: Lighting

In our line of work we are always working with varying budgets- some large, some small. The nice thing about working in difference price ranges is that we get to source from so many great suppliers... and trust us, there are tons of lighting suppliers out there.

During the redecorating process,  people often like to pick where they want to spend the "big bucks" - often times that’s on pieces that get the most use like a sofa or table, and want to save in the lighting department. Luckily, there are so many affordable lighting options that still have the wow factor.

Check out our roundup of some gorgeous comparable lights at both SPLURGE and SAVE price points! 


Semi Flush Mounts:


We love that in both options you get that hit of brass!   

We love that in both options you get that hit of brass!



These lights are so similar... and check out the incredible savings!

These lights are so similar... and check out the incredible savings!


Chandeliers can vary immensely in price. Here's an example of two similar fixtures (style-wise) that have more than a $3,000 price difference between the two. $3,000!!!!!

Chandeliers can vary immensely in price. Here's an example of two similar fixtures (style-wise) that have more than a $3,000 price difference between the two. $3,000!!!!!


The Classic Sputnik from Lucent Light Shop also comes in other finishes at different price points.

The Classic Sputnik from Lucent Light Shop also comes in other finishes at different price points.

3 Light Vanity Sconce:

A little bit different in terms of look, but   a     lot   different in terms of price!

A little bit different in terms of look, but a lot different in terms of price!

There you have it! Lighting comes in all shapes, sizes, styles, and price points. The best advice we have before making a lighting purchase is to look around. If you do your research, you are bound to find lots of great options, big budget or small!