a peek inside the fishbowl

16 May, 2012

Reno post #26: Kitchen Guy, and hooray for Pinterest

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno


There’ll be a lot of reno-related posts here for the next while, but as far as I can tell most of you don’t seem to mind. There seem to be an awful lot of curious cats who are following along. I’ve had people stop me in the street to talk to me about what’s going on with the reno! Hilarious.

As some of you know, some of the freelance writing I do is home-related. Just this past year I’ve written home profiles for Our Homes Ottawa, Ottawa Magazine, and Ottawa Citizen’s Style Magazine. These features are more or less the same kind of idea across the board. I am assigned a home to profile and am given the homeowner’s contact info. Arrangements are made for me to meet them at their home for a tour and a chat, and then I write the article. It is one of the highlights of my writing work. It’s fascinating, really, to get to know people in this way. Home design is so utterly personal. Each person is different, each home is unique, everyone has their priorities and wants and needs and dreams and no two are ever the same. I love it.

I’ve written enough of these pieces to be able to spot some trends (I’ll be writing about a few of those later) and to be able to make some general observations. For example: for many women, the kitchen comes at the very top of their priority list.

Why is that? Why do we love kitchens so much? Is it because we spend so much time in our kitchens? Is it because we grew up watching and learning from our own mothers?

The last piece I wrote (I don’t want to scoop myself so I won’t get into detail here) was about a fabulous renovated bungalow. The mom and I joked as she stood tall behind her glorious sparkling quartz countertop. She was standing exactly as if she was the captain at the prow of her ship; ramrod straight, hands on the counter, ready to lead the troops into action.

Every time I interview someone for one of those home profiles they tell me that the kitchen is the heart of their home. Every time. And every time I try to find another way around that cliche while I’m writing the article. It’s cliche because it’s true.

So yes, the kitchen is important. Perhaps it’s because, as moms, providing for our families in this way is deeply ingrained. I know it is for me. To cook means to love. To cook is to give freely of yourself (even though it sure feels like a geeDEE chore sometimes). When you think about it, this way of life goes back to hunter-gatherer times. Who divided up the berries and the freshly-killed meat and made sure the offspring was taken care of? Geez. We are STILL doing that, aren’t we… albeit with better appliances. ;)

Tuesday night is always meeting night, and it will be for the next 6-8 months.

That’s when Darryl, our construction manager, comes over and we talk about what’s been done that week, and what needs to get done in the upcoming week. I really like this system, because it ensures that we’re all on the same page and that we’re in regular communications.

Last week Darryl brought a custom kitchen builder guy for us to meet. We know very little about him, other than the fact that he came recommended to us. David our architect was there too, so there were five of us at the table. The knowledge bank at the table was awesome (I am not including Mark and I in the knowledge part of course because we are embarrassingly naive about everything) but it felt good knowing these people were on our team and working hard to create good solutions for us. We extended the kitchen a tiny bit to make space for cabinetry. And we talked about the pantry ALONE for 20 minutes; discussing shelving and options and height and door style and spacing between shelves. Oy.

I was asked to show a photo of a kitchen I liked. And so we got out the laptop, fired up my Pinterest boards, and loaded up this kitchen on the screen because it’s one I return to again and again.

I am pretty sure there was an umm and an uh huh heard somewhere around the table, and it quickly became apparent that this particular style of kitchen was over our budget. Why? Because the cabinetry is framed. Look at the photo again, and notice the detail around the bottom cabinetry: the space between the drawers, the exposed hinges. Framed cabinets are study, old skool things. Frameless cabinets (also called European style) have shelves that slide straight in, allow for more storage space, and have a contemporary appearance as a result of the doors meeting each other right at the ends. And they are cheaper. SO, we are going with frameless cabinets that have a classic door style. Make sense?

Really, what I was trying to show the kitchen guy was the cabinet door style, a simple white shaker-style cabinet door and a totally plain drawer door. So this is now closer to the cabinets we’re looking at, although with more traditional drawer and cabinet pulls.

The lesson here is bring your pictures to the table, because it might save you a whole bunch of time and money.

ETA: Want to follow the reno as it unfolds? You can get updates in a few different ways:

Please note that some of the content won’t be in all of these areas. For example, I like to take photos of the products we like while we’re combing Ottawa for the best deals on fixtures/tiles/furnishings. I might tweet out a few but they might not make it to the blog. So if you’re on Twitter and you’re a design nerd/renoholic who’s always looking for inspiration this might be a good option for you. :)

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7 Responses to "Reno post #26: Kitchen Guy, and hooray for Pinterest"

1 | Chantal

May 16th, 2012 at 9:08 am


I will agree, I love these posts. And with a redecorate (not quite reno) on my horizon all tips and inspiration is welcome. :)

2 | Jen Hughes

May 16th, 2012 at 9:45 am


I hear that same thing over and over as well when I interview homeowners about their homes. And you’re absolutely right – it’s a cliche because it’s just true.

I adore that first kitchen as well. It really is the classic, perfect white kitchen. I also love the edge of the countertops – also a budget-buster! But a very similar look could be had at a much lower budget, for both cabinets and counters. It was a fun story to write because I loved the look of the whole place so much.

I’m eagerly following your reno story. You know I live for this stuff. :) It’s really making me impatient to start tackling my own kitchen disaster though!

3 | Valerie

May 16th, 2012 at 12:23 pm


I have such different tastes than you, Andrea, it’s kind of funny. But I’m starting to see how things suit you, like the first kitchen picture you liked (where I immediately thought “Grandma’s house”). :)

Our family is also different in that, although someone is very into kitchens, it’s not me – it’s hubby. If we were living way back when, I think it would be me going off to shoot something while he made us a nice home. :)

4 | Carly

May 16th, 2012 at 12:25 pm


Loving these posts too!!!

Now that I’m on mat leave, I find myself finally able to just sit and enjoy my home in ways I haven’t before. We moved in three years ago and because it was a new build, chose all our finishes. Since this was the second time we’d done it, we were able to be a bit smarter about where to spend on upgrades and what really worked and what didn’t.

This is our third year in the home and I just revel in curling up in the family room, or the living room, or my bedroom or the baby’s room and just sit, letting the peace surround me.

Not that you asked, so skip this part if I’m out of line! . . . We’ve had shaker style cabinets in both homes, and while the cabinets weren’t white, they were light in colour. In the first home the cabinets were traditional, with a clean squared-off edge to the trim. Eventually they drove me nuts because of the way that little ledge in the trim would collect every piece of dust, grease and food! So in the new home, I kept the shaker style but had them add a very, very, small coved trim to the shaker trim. It’s amazing how much less crap collects on the cupboards now. :)

Am totally loving your white kitchen!!!

5 | andrea

May 16th, 2012 at 12:50 pm


By the way I didn’t mean to imply that only moms do the cooking or provide for their families. :) I was only writing about myself as a mother, in a quest to understand the conversations I’ve had with other women regarding why the kitchen is their number one priority during a home renovation.

6 | TatianaDokuchic

May 16th, 2012 at 1:05 pm


Hurrah for reno posts!!

My own white kitchen is really in need of an update. I keep trying to find another colour scheme that inspires me but keep coming back to white. Having just drooled over your Pinterest choices, I think I’m just going to have to give in & go for white again.

Thanks for fun! I’m looking forward to more :)

7 | Allison

May 17th, 2012 at 6:05 am


We are also doing a kitchen reno, and I’ve been using Pinterest as my inspiration board / filing cabinet of ideas. It has our original kitchen ideas that we based the new look off of, through to details such as lighting and barstools. Love your kitchen pins, btw!

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  • andrea tomkins: I'm glad you find it restful Bonnie! I didn't on that day. :)
  • Bonnie Upton: I have a true love of this place. I drive to and from Ottawa from the NewmArket area to visit my sister snd now my son who attended uOttawa and has c
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  • andrea tomkins: Yes! I've seen the boiling water method! I never really bothered with it because I am a lazy baker. :) It is worth finding a recipe that uses less ye
  • Amy: I made a no-knead version that didn't use a Dutch oven (I don't have one and didn't feel like investing in one just for that). You put a small contai

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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