Returning customers call on Westend to optimize country retirement retreat

Expert redesign lets small bungalow work better in its own space

Postmedia Content Works

If there is one thing Westend Bath and Kitchen store manager Alan Carriere likes to see, it is satisfied customers coming back to Westend for new renovations. Most returning customers are familiar faces to Carriere, who has been with the company for 28 years. People usually remember him for his friendly demeanour and solid professional expertise, both as a designer and as a project manager able to recommend and control all areas of a home renovation. His reputation is as solid as Westend’s no-worry guarantee.

When Paul and Liba Straznicky purchased a rural bungalow near Ashton Station in April 2015, the couple had big plans for how they should optimize it to suit their semi-retired lifestyle. Paul is a professor emeritus in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University, while Liba has recently taken up a new path as a minister in the Anglican Church.

“We wanted to downsize, and moving to the country was something we both wanted to do,” Liba said. “Both of our children have families of their own out in Almonte and Merrickville, so we are almost mid-point between them.” While they both loved the house, which was significantly smaller than the home they were selling, the interior layout of the 1983-vintage bungalow suffered from being unusually cramped inside the available space. A redesign was clearly in order if this was going to be their retirement home.

“We saw good potential for making changes that would be significant for us,” Paul said, “but which would not involve major structural work. We thought we could change things to make it possible for us to live mostly on a single floor for convenience as we get older.” After contacting a few local contractors, the couple decided to take their wish list back to a renovation design team they knew they could trust. It would be their third contract with Westend Bath and Kitchen.

“The Straznickys were my customers back when I was in sales,” said Carriere.

A dozen years earlier the couple met Carriere when they went to Westend looking for help with the ensuite in their Mooney’s Bay bungalow. “We had some very basic ideas,” Paul said, “but Alan took these and came up with a beautiful design. We liked his attitude toward us, and Westend did such a nice job that we decided to go back to them a year later to renovate our main bathroom and remodel the kitchen. We had a very good experience with them.”

The scope of work for the home in Ashton would consist of a complete kitchen renovation, moving the laundry facilities from the basement to the main level, converting a powder room and main bathroom into a four-piece bathroom on the main level, and installing a complete three-piece shower room in the basement using a macerating pump to send all the waste up and into the existing drains for the septic system.

“It was one big undertaking,” Carriere said, “but we had the luxury of having the home to ourselves before the Straznickys moved in. Our biggest challenge was designing and converting the powder room and main bathroom into a four-piece bathroom, which involved relocating a lot of the plumbing, heating and electrical.”

The main floor bathroom situation was inconvenient to say the least. The powder room off the master bedroom had only a toilet and small wash basin, but there was a main bathroom on the other side of the wall. To take a shower or bath meant going out of the bedroom and entering the main bathroom from the hallway. “It was just awful,” Paul said.

Where once there was awful, now there is awesome. The full space taken up by the powder room and bathroom has been remodelled into a beautifully tiled, multi-access space fitted out with an eco-friendly dual-flush toilet, spa style shower in a curved design for easy passage between it and the luxurious soaker tub, and a modern vanity with plenty of storage space. A heated floor and existing skylight complete this perfect retreat.

The chic, three-piece bathroom installed downstairs where the laundry facilities once were makes an attractive add-on to the guest facilities in the basement. No fear of cold feet here either, as the floor is fully heated.

According to Liba, deciding where to relocate the laundry appliances on the main floor came out of another decision concerning the window in the dining room.

“We looked at the dining room window and said, this is going to be a place for a patio door. Because we wanted to have everything on the main floor, we decided to close off the original door leading out to the deck, and put the washer and dryer in the hallway next to the kitchen.” It is a nice fit that will save countless trips up and down the stairs to the basement. Veteran Westend contractors Eric and Alain Lachance had no trouble with the work, and simply sealed off the hall closet on the hallway side where the laundry machines would be going, and opened it up on the other side of the wall inside Liba’s main floor study.

The main problem with the original kitchen concept was the poor use of the available space. Badly laid out counter areas created unnecessary travel, and the minimal cupboard space in light of a wideopen and unused area next to the fridge simply made no sense. “It was all wasted space,” Paul said.

The solution was elegant. By replacing the large fridge with a smaller appliance and ripping out a barely usable microwave counter, Westend had room to install a beautiful custom floor-to-ceiling pantry unit opposite the sink, and also create an attractive, quartztopped breakfast counter at the break of the dining room. Not only did this improve walkability throughout the kitchen because things were much closer to hand, but the breakfast counter gives Paul and Liba the space they need to roll out dough for their baking.

Choosing the Cameo White for the new Deslaurier kitchen cupboards was a brilliant way to show off one of the home’s more unusual and attractive features – the natural reclaimed pine flooring. “It’s very nice now,” Paul said. “It all ties together, and from an ergonomic point of view the kitchen works.”

Liba said she is happy with the result. “We do a lot of cooking and baking when we are entertaining the family, and we need space to work. The space was here before, but it wasn’t usable. We didn’t add any space to this room, we just changed the way it was laid out. Everything is within reach now.”

One of the things the Straznickys said they liked about working with Westend again is that they were always able to discuss design options until they were sure they had arrived at the best solutions. They also appreciated Westend’s turnkey project management operation, which meant they could safely leave the heavy lifting of ordering supplies and finding reliable contractors in Westend’s capable hands.

“It would have been very difficult for us to manage things ourselves,” Liba said.

Paul said that he and Liba were pleased by the quality of the work done by the Lachance brothers. “They did a great job,” he said. “They even finished one week early. That’s efficient work. We were very happy with them.”

“It was nice to see Paul and Liba again,” Carriere said.

The Westend Bath and 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.