BY NESSA PULLMAN | PHOTOS BY GEOFF HOBSON
Do-it-yourself renovation projects were no foreign task to homeowners Julie Fast and Darryl Harris, so when they first walked into the kitchen of their soon-to-be home, they knew it was in need of a complete upgrade — and they were ready to take on the challenge. Designing their own kitchen was on the top of their bucket list and they knew this was going to be the one.
“It was the structure of the house we fell in love with; when I walked into the kitchen I was instantly captivated by the A-frame roof, the expansive walls and the large beams along the ceiling,” says Fast. “It was so neat and so unique, but it was like walking into a time capsule — it was in serious need of an upgrade.”
After walking through the space and envisioning how they wanted to revitalize it, they quickly realized this project was perhaps a bit out of their scope of expertise. A mutual friend introduced the homeowners to local designer Kelly Moir, principal at KM Interior Designs, and a partnership formed instantly.
“The homeowners knew what they wanted and had a good idea of how to do it, but they were also aware they didn’t have all the answers and were looking to professionals for advice,” Moir says with a chuckle. “But I also knew there was no way they were going to sit off to the sidelines and let someone else do all the work!”
Moir brought local builder Rob Lindorff of Revival Renovations on site to examine the space. With the original home being built in 1964, there were a lot of structural concerns that initially stood out to him — especially with the building’s unique architecture.
“It’s not very often you see a structure built like this,” says Lindorff. “The floor above the kitchen was suspending off of beams in the ceiling which led to each rafter; when we looked inside we discovered that the connections between the floor beams and roof structure were completely inadequate for building standards these days. There was a lot of head-scratching going on trying to come up with solutions; there was nothing we could buy off the shelves to fix the structural problems that arose in this house.”
The homeowners liked the original layout of the kitchen but wanted to open up the space to make it brighter and more conversational. Another big target was to create different zones and produce a more functional working space. Keeping most of the same foundation in the kitchen, Moir removed the upper cabinets of the existing U-shape that originally closed off the kitchen, and enlarged the window to add in more natural light. She then built the kitchen cabinets along the interior wall to create a separate coffee and bar area away from the main working zone.
“Julie knew in her heart this house was special; her mission with this renovation was to accentuate the original character, without losing its personality,” says Moir. “Our job as the designer is to extract from the clients what it is they want, and then find a way to make that work using all the resources we have at our fingertips.”
This meant applying the homeowners’ favourite colour — navy blue — in the kitchen’s millwork as a dramatic backdrop to complement the brushed-gold hardware and fixtures — keeping up with the kitchen’s unique persona.
Gold-like accents throughout the space make this kitchen look distinctive. The island and bar faucets are both Delta Trinsic in champagne-bronze paired with the Orchard farmhouse sink by American Standard DXV in the island. Moir used the Maclain Pendant by Kichler in natural brass above the main island to tie the elements together.
“During construction we found the original blueprints to the house,” says Fast. “Just by looking at them, I knew the homeowner had a really great sense of style, and I wanted to honour that.”
To merge the old character with the new upgrade, Moir kept this kitchen a classic transitional design by infusing traditional Shaker-style cabinets and crown-moulding with modern fixtures and geometric patterned wallpaper.
“There were many firsts for us with this project,” says Geoff Hobson of Hobson Woodworks, who custom built all the millwork in the kitchen. “We had never done that colour of cabinets before, and then fitting those into the existing beams and structure was a big challenge.”
Moir was cognizant of the fact that the A-frame structure and ceiling beams would dictate everything about the new layout, having to work creatively with them to not only incorporate them into the new design, but to make them shine. Moir did this by placing the range hood directly in between the two ceiling beams to create a focal point on the north kitchen wall, and building a fireplace to frame the A-shaped ceiling on the opposite-facing wall in the living room — making this house’s unique characteristics even more defined.
During the renovation, the homeowners purchased an old fifth-wheel trailer and parked it in the backyard to be as close to the site as possible without living in the mess. Each evening when they would come home from work, they would change out of their work clothes and go straight up to the house to find Rob and walk around the site, getting updated on everything that happened that day. When everyone went home, they would buckle down, working sometimes until midnight painting and prepping the site for the team the next day.
Above: In the attached living room (before photo, left), Moir put in a brand-new floor-to-ceiling fireplace to complement the peaked ceiling the homeowners were originally drawn to. Moir used Ames Concept tile in Nordic Stone for the surface and framed the fireplace with built-in cabinetry, painted in Sherwin Williams Mega Greige, topped with a maple-stained countertop.
“I’ve never seen harder working clients in my entire life,” says Lindorff. “They did all the interior demolition themselves and the site clean-up every night. When most people are done with their day jobs they don’t want to come home and do physical work; they want to leave it to the workers. But not them … they got right in there.”
After many rounds of trial and error in their DIY home projects in the past, the homeowners’ knew that this was going to be a great opportunity to learn first hand.
“We’ve always loved house projects, so when we got our hands on this, we knew we weren’t going to just hand it off to someone else to do … we both knew we had a lot to learn, and this was a great chance to work with professionals and see it done right,” says Fast. “My best advice to anyone doing a construction build is to get involved, be on site and ask questions. If you are unsure of something, then ask; if you can’t picture it, then get them to walk you through the space and lay it all out for you.”
Many late nights and hard work later, the homeowners can proudly tick building their dream kitchen off of their bucket list.