Professional design, workmanship preserve original details of older home’s character

Postmedia Content Works

Westend Bath and Kitchen designer Rebecca Neale understands that respecting the natural character of a home’s construction is as much a part of a renovation as anything else, so attention to detail is important. It’s one of the reasons why she comes so highly recommended.

When her clients James and Sara bought their home in Old Ottawa East in 2013, they knew that the kitchen and dining room would have to be changed to accommodate the needs of their growing family. The tight, dimly lit quarters of the galley-style kitchen made it difficult to work safely around the stove with their young children in the room, and from the kitchen it was impossible to keep an eye on the kids if they were in the adjoining dining room.

“We absolutely knew from Day 1 that the wall between the two rooms would be coming down,” Sara said, “but we didn’t know what we could do with the space.”

The previous owners had changed out the kitchen cabinets in 1990, but not much else had been touched. There was no hood over the gas range, no dishwasher, and very little workable counter space. Even the pastry counter by the kitchen window was built too low for Sara and James to work at comfortably.

And there was a more serious issue. The exterior walls of the 85-year-old house contained no insulation. As was the custom in the early 1930s, the space between the walls had simply been filled with scrap wood from the construction. The house was bleeding heat.

“The walls were sweating cold beads of moisture,” Sara said. “We would be freezing when we were sitting in the dining room.” They were fortunate there was no mould.

The couple said Rebecca came very highly recommended by a friend. “We actually auditioned four companies,” Sara said, “but it was Rebecca who sold us on Westend because she was so enthusiastic, and had such an eye for detail.”

Without saying anything, Neale had taken note of the distinctive ceiling moulding style and had matching samples waiting for Sara and James to look at when they visited the Westend showroom. It was a professional touch they said gave them even more confidence in entrusting the work to the Westend team.

Neale also suggested adding decorative mullions to the glass doors of the buffet cabinet to reflect the style of the room’s windows, and asked Rick Cleroux, the contractor on the job, to mimic the same dark wood trim of the window behind the banquette on the window above the sink.

“Rick was absolutely amazing,” Sara said. “There’s something about an older home that feels weighty and substantial, and we wanted a renovation with modern conveniences that captured that. He got that, but he was also straightforward in managing our expectations. When we told him we wanted to reuse the baseboards, he warned us that the old wood might splinter when he was prying it off.”

Much to James and Sara’s relief, the baseboards came off without damage, and were returned to service as a strong original design element of the home.

“My favourite aspect of the new kitchen is the combination of crisp lines and bright pops of colour,” James said. “I like that we took a bit of a risk with the bold green colour for the banquette upholstery, which goes really well with the simple white Shaker cabinetry.”

Sara said she was pleased that Neale understood how to integrate the new with the old to make the space feel “at home” with the rest of the house. “Rebecca had a real enthusiasm for the project,” she said, “and clearly had a vision of what it was going to look like. It feels like home. We just love it.”

The Westend Bath & Kitchen showroom, located at 1660 Woodward Dr., is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also visit www.westendbk.ca, or call 613-226-7701 to schedule a free estimate.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Westend Bath and Kitchen.