Though they had dreams of big changes in the home they’ve owned for six years, Lia Rinaldo and Crad Price decided the kitchen should be their priority. “We inherited a pretty reasonable kitchen,” says Rinaldo. “It’s sunny and bright, but it’s not really our style. People like it but we’ve always known we wanted to do something serious with it.”
Something serious meant, in Rinaldo’s words, “pimp out the island.” She says the work has completely changed everything. Price is a designer/builder himself, so he used subcontractors he knew, including Bay Maples Fine Woodworking, for the cabinets and floor sanding. A new stove and a wine fridge went into the island. The countertops are concrete, built by Price. But even though much of the labour was free, it was still a hefty investment.
Rinaldo estimates it cost her and Price about $10,000. “It’s crazy, since decided we were only going to do that and nothing else,” she says, chuckling.
In 2009, Jennifer Morawiecki and Andrew Morrison did a full renovation and expansion of the kitchen in their 1948-ish house, just off the Armdale roundabout, knocking down two walls and completely re-designing the layout. “Our design and overall look was inspired by English kitchen style, plus a desire to respect some of the original features of our house,” explains Morawiecki. She points out the use of glass knobs on the cabinetry, echoing the original knobs on the house’s interior doors, and replacing the tile floor with reclaimed oak flooring from Renovators Resource, which was installed and refinished to match the existing floors in the rest of the house.
The full reno ended up costing about $60,000, including floors, ceilings, new windows, radiators, lighting and electrics, plumbing, custom cabinetry, countertops, backsplash, sink and appliances---everything but the dishwasher. The core work took about three months---“I had to cook in a makeshift kitchen in our basement,” says Morawiecki---while the entire job took more than a year.
“I think our biggest lesson learned is that if at all possible, it’s a great idea to work with an experienced kitchen designer, and that it’s not nearly as expensive as one might think,” she says, citing Signature Designs Ltd., run by friend Janice Bates-Hawkins, as having done the work. “She has 20 years’ experience of doing kitchen renos in Halifax, provided invaluable advice and guidance, and directed us to the best suppliers and tradespeople---which saved huge amounts of time and trouble.”
Respecting the heritage
When restaurateur Jane Wright purchased a home on Robie Street, she was living in a co-op flat next door. The home she purchased was one house closer to her restaurant, jane’s on the common. “I say I couldn’t stand the commute,” which was approximately six buildings away, now five. “I had to live closer.” She chose to reno the kitchen, naturally her favourite room in the house.
“That house was built in 1880,” says Wright, “and I’m the third owner,” following John Hennigar-Shuh---manager at The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic---and a 95-year-old woman whose father built the place. She was born and died in it. “No one ever wrecked it. So when we went to renovate the kitchen I felt such a responsibility to the heritage of the house. There’s so few of them that haven’t been massacred with wood panelling in the ’70s.”
She went to the good people at henhouse in the Hydrostone market, experts in kitchens, to renovate it.Wright really enjoys the cupboards, the high ceilings and a sit-in area with a wood stove. “The henhouse really did a beautiful job,” she says, estimating she invested about $40,000 in the design, cupboards and soapstone countertops, and significantly more in the full reno because they took out a chimney and added a bathroom to the back end of the home, matching the original look. “As a classic design of a new kitchen in an old house, it’s pretty spectacular.”
A showcase on a budget
“The cost is quite low, and that’s part of my thing...to do it on a limited budget but make it look really nice and interesting,” says Suzanne Hickey, a marketing professional with a side business in interior design. “For me, my house is part of my showcase.” And by low she means by sourcing online, from Home Depot and Benjamin Moore for paint, all less than $2,000 for the cabinetry, countertops, furniture and other accessories.
Buying the home five years ago, she did all the interior design, including the new hardware, stainless steel backsplash, light fixture and adding a dishwasher and extending the black laminate countertops. The colour of the walls is, by Hickey’s own admission, very striking.
“I spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” she says. “I wanted to make it inviting. The bold turquoise is lively and fun, and mixing in the bright red accessories gives it a vintage feel. The clear chandelier adds just a touch of glamour that I love.” She also painted the inside of the glass cupboard doors because she “hated being able to see the mess in the cupboards. It’s very reflective now, with a bit of texture to it.” The table was found at an antique store in northern New Brunswick. “I have no idea how old it is, but I love that it’s so beat up.”