How to Feel at Home in Your Home – Part 1

I’ve always considered myself to be an adventurous soul. I love new experiences, places and foods. When my husband and I started our renovation journey nearly a year ago, we felt exhilarated and excited about the changes that would take our shell of a house to a beautiful and highly functional home.

I won’t go into the details but our renovation has stretched on far longer than originally anticipated. Let me tell you, living in a perpetual state of disarray and flux takes its toll!

During the renovation and over the previous four years that included 6 moves across the country I’ve discovered that I need to have a sacred sanctuary to feel grounded and do my best work.

Have you noticed that when you go through seasons of change you also crave a feeling being at peace?


Whether you are surrounded by some uncertainty or if you would love to be able to add some more “you” into your home, here is part 1 of how to feel at home in your home.

1. Decide how you want to feel in each area of your home.

So much of our time is spent around “doing” and this proliferates into our homes as well.

For example say you want a desk and work area in your home. So you buy a new desk and set it up in an out-of-the-way corner or room so you aren’t distracted by work on your off hours or leisure time.

A few weeks go by and you are finding that you aren’t as productive as you would like. You tweak a few productivity systems, but there is something that isn’t quite right.

I’m here to let you know that when you start with how you want to feel while you work, this will impact not only your desk placement, but your productivity too.

When you purposefully create areas in your home and work spaces, you enhance your health, mental acuity and emotional states of being.

In our homes we typically need areas that are calming, as well as areas that are energizing. I want my kitchen to be filled with joy, beauty and passion for eating and connecting, but my office needs to be filled with light, so that I feel energized and I have a connection to the outside world.

I encourage you to choose one room or area of your home and ask yourself, “What do I need most, right now?  Am I craving a space to create calm or raise my energy?”


All over the web you’ll find articles telling us that in order to refresh a room all we need to do is pick a few plants, grab some new decorative cushions and throw a new piece of art on the wall — ta da, a refreshed space.

We humans are way more complex than that. Our memories and experiences drive our feelings long after the events have taken place.

2.  Memory, the forgotten sense.

There have been many scientific studies on how color effects us psychologically.

Let’s consider the popular restaurant chain, McDonald’s.

“Looking at the positive psychology qualities of red & yellow in relation to the fast food industry, red triggers stimulation, appetite, hunger, it attracts attention.  Yellow triggers the feelings of happiness and friendliness.

When you combine red and yellow it’s about speed, quickness.  In, eat and out again.” – Karen Haller

Regardless of the studies, color remains subjective. Meaning if you’ve had a negative or traumatic experience with the color yellow, no matter what, yellow will not feel happy and friendly.

After many years of teaching women how to create art to facilitate healing, I can tell you without a doubt the colors we are personally drawn to or dislike are no accident.

Color, like memories are so individual. Listen to your gut response when choosing color for your space. (Along with these tips here.)

3. Lighting, Light Quality and Light Color Temperature.

Imagine these two scenarios.

Surrounded by a cozy blanket you pick up your book, feeling comforted by the soft warm glow from the lamp beside you.

Refreshed, you open your eyes, happy to see the cool morning light streaming through your bedroom window.

Two very different scenarios, that likely happened in the same room, separated by 7-9 hours.

The lighting and light quality in your room directly affects how you feel.

Think about the last time you were in a big box store with tons of florescent lights overhead. These stores are not designed to make you feel at home and the lights are often on the cool spectrum.

In contrast, do you remember the last time you were in a favorite independent bookstore? Yes, the space is smaller, but often the color temperature of these lights are warmer, mimicking the color of candles or fire.

If you’ve ever found yourself staring at the huge rows of light bulb choices in Home Depot, wondering what the heck the difference is, I’ve been there too!

Succinctly the color of the lights are measured by the Kelvin scale. You’ll find this information on the box.

Warm Lighting (2700k – 3000K) = warm, inviting and cozy. This lighting is most similar to incandescent lights that we had before CFL’s and LED lights.

Neutral Lighting (3500K) = neutral, efficient, balanced. Lots of brands still call this soft white.

Daylight Lighting (4100K – 6500K) = cool, white, can be overly intense. Florescent lights fall under this category.

My personal preference is 3500K or below, as I find the light spectrum of daylight lighting to be too greenish and intense.

If you want to learn more,  check out this helpful video.

Decide what color temperature relates to how you want to feel in your space. If you are not sure, buy a couple different color temperature bulbs and see if it changes how you feel.

If you would like to have the option of changing the colour temparature without changing the bulb, consider these smart bulbs by Philips.

If you want to be able to have a range of lighting options without getting a ton of lights, consider putting them on a dimmer switch so you can easily increase or decrease the light intensity.

There are more ways to consider how many lights you’ll need, but this is a good overview on getting starting choosing lights that help you create your desired feeling or mood.

This concludes part 1 of 2. I’d love to hear from you: Do you feel at home in your home?

I help homeowners choose colours and lighting for the inside and outside of their homes, along with developing colour palettes and finish packages for commercial clients, realtors and builders.

I offer e-design services for those of you not local and in-person consultations and design if you are in the RVA (Richmond, Virginia) area.

Would you like some assistance honing in or refining how to create a space that helps you feel your best?

Email me,  I’d love to work with you.


Choosing Colors for your home? Read this first.

Does choosing colors for your walls make you feel like this?

Have you grabbed colour sample after colour sample but none of them work, or don’t look how you imagined?

Every colour of paint has unique undertones.

If you remember back to art class, you’ll likely remember the colour wheel. Here is a modern one like ones you’ve used on your computer.

I think it’s pretty normal to assume that all blue colours are cool colours. But blue can be a warm colour too! All of the blues below have yellow undertones.

I’m not going to dive into the science behind what makes a warm or cool colour. Succinctly a warm or cool colour is created because of layers of colour that is under the main colour you see.

Let’s dive into this with the colour grey.

Grey is still a pretty popular colour to use in our homes and office spaces, but it is one of the hardest colours to choose correctly.

Many greys have purple undertones (which isn’t a bad thing in itself) but when it is paired with counters or floors that have non congruent undertones, this will create a colour scheme that feels “off”. Your eyes and brain will register that something isn’t as compatible as it could be, and as subtle as this reaction can be, your space is far less serene than you intended.

If you are curious what grey colours have purple undertones, you can go here to Sherwin Williams website  to check them out.

I clicked on one of the greys and used the color visualiser tool to see how the color looks on the wall. If you are looking to DIY your colour choices this is a fun tool to use.

Notice that the colours look different on each of the walls. You can especially see the difference in tones in my white studio.

The same will be true for your home or office space. In fact, how each colour looks will be totally different room to room. The colour appears to change because of how much natural light is in each room, along with the type of lamps and other lighting used in your space. It can even look like a different colour when it’s next to furniture, counters, floors and windows because of the light that is reflected back.

The best practice is to test your colours before you paint so that you can see how the colours might appear throughout the day and evening. See how much greyer this room looks when the sun isn’t out. (And isn’t Magnum looking thoughtful?)

The small paint swatches the paint stores give out do not give you enough information to accurately choose a colour that looks how you expect.

Get a sample paint made up and apply it to the wall to see how it will look. If you don’t have white walls, make sure you put some white paper around each test spot on the wall, because the previous colour will throw your eye off and the paint colour will not look how you expected it to!

With my homeowner clients we talk about how they want to feel in their space. When we are choosing colours to test on the wall they are often surprised by the colours that they are drawn to.

With my commercial clients we talk about how they want their clients to feel, in addition to how they envision their clientele to move around and use the space. For example an optometry office may want their clients to feel seen and invited to the displays, where a massage therapist may want their clients to feel relaxed and nourished.

If you are staging your home to sell, you need to figure out what the perceptions of the buyer will be before you choose colors.

I don’t believe in having one or two strategies for all homes for sale. A home in a historical area will attract different buyers than a newly built planned neighbourhood and I wouldn’t recommend using the same strategy for both homes.

The science and art of colour plays a huge part in helping us feel at home in our homes.

I help homeowners choose colours for the inside and outside of their homes, along with developing colour palettes and finish packages for commercial clients, realtors and builders.

I offer e-design services for those of you not local and in-person consultations and design if you are in the RVA (Richmond, Virginia) area.

If you need some help, email me,  I’d love to work with you.

Want To See My Drawers? An inside look at cabinet layout and open shelf styling.

This week I want to talk about the cabinet drawers, making our full sized fridge work in our space as well how we are keeping our open shelving functional!

If you’ve been following along with the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge™, then you are already pretty familiar with our Folk Victorian Kitchen. If you are new here, you can go here to see the first post in the series or go here to see the full reveal.

To recap:

We started with a room that wasn’t ever a kitchen before.

It has three large (but low) bay windows filling one whole wall, a doorway leading to the front entrance, a fireplace, french doors leading into the living room and another doorway leading into the back mudroom/laundry that is beside the built in pantry.

It looked like this:

And ended like this:


First the cabinet layout:

We have three outlets on the island, one on each side (except the range side). I’m very happy with the placement of these. Don’t forget outlets on your island, and place one more than you think you’ll need. I’m going to upgrade the outlets to a colour that blends in more with the grey wood than the stark electrician white!

The island cabinets are different on each side. This cabinet layout  (as shown in above photo) has two shallower drawers and 4 deeper drawers. One of the shallow drawers is my own personal ‘junk drawer’ and the other shallow drawer holds typical things you would find in a shared ‘everything’ drawer along with a few kitchen gadgets.

I used expanding bamboo drawer dividers and this allows us to customise each drawer.

This is one of the deeper drawers where we store our large dinner plates, our tiny food prep or sauce bowls plus a few bowls that don’t match the others!

On the other side of the island we have one shallow drawer, two deep drawers and a pullout garbage and recycling drawer. The bins pull out and it’s super easy to empty the recycling.

At the front of the island, on either side of the range there are two slim cabinets. The one to the left is a pull out spice drawer, and came with four shelves. I don’t keep my spices in the typical cylindrical jars, so I removed two shelves plus I really wanted to use this pull out to hide all of our spatulas and wooden spoons!

I use hooks with magnets to store our oven mitts and this great little pan scraper, that also works on the range top. Tools that have more than one function are amazing!

The other side we store cutting boards, baking pans, pizza paddles. I have some metal dividers that still need to be installed to keep them all separated.


On to the elephant in the room…..

The refrigerator.

Placing the fridge in this room was a challenge with all the doors, windows and the built ins.

My logical mind thought that we should get a counter depth fridge (they are shallower) so we could extend the island by 6″. My pragmatic husband weighed in and thought we should get the full sized fridge instead as we love to entertain and could fit more beer and appies! (Canadian for appetizer.)

In my initial design I had the fridge facing the front door because we were going to flip the way the doors opened into the living room. We ultimately decided not to go that route and had enough room that the fridge could face the window.

Looks like it fits really nicely right? It does, until you open the doors! And it didn’t quite make it through the reno unscathed, the bottom now has a couple of dents!

We knew that the door on the left would not fully extend while the fridge is pushed back into place. The photo above shows how far each door opens. The right side is the full extension.

I haven’t found this to be much of a constraint on how we use and clean the fridge, but this could be a no go with some clients. Our tradeoff is we have ample room for entertaining and storing foods.

Keeping the counter and open shelves functional

Here is the styled shot you saw earlier in this post:

Here is how my counters look today. I used items I really do use everyday to style the shots. The copper compost bin was in front of the acacia wood lazy susan that you see here.

I like, erm need, items to feel neat and organised. I can’t stand coming down to the kitchen and seeing a mess. Having all the items we use everyday on the lazy susan, keeps everything accessible to both of us while working on opposite sides of the island.  The huge bonus — the lazy susan keeps everything orderly for me!

After styling the lower shelf, I decided I loved having the two books on the lower shelf. They are the “Flavor Thesaurus” and “Kitchen Hacks”. Beside them are two canisters that hold flour and sugar.

The only thing that I changed on the lower shelf is removing the blue sorbet bowls and giving the black bowls their own place.  We use the plates, glasses and measuring cups nearly every day.

On the counter we have our instant hot water heater, that I would prefer to be over on the dog feeding station. It’s leaking a little so while the new one is on the way, the heater stays on the counter.

Obviously I removed all of our scrubby brushes from the styled shoot, but real life wins the everyday styling. I didn’t want the brushes lying in the sink, or on the counter, so this tub saddle allows us to have them accessible but not in the forefront. If you scroll back up to the image above you’ll see them peeking out.

Our dogs are pretty active. O-Ren below loves to hop up on the window sills and catch flies or watch (aka, bark loudly) at the squirrels.

Active dogs = supplements! As already mentioned I can’t stand clutter, so decanting their food into prettier containers and hiding the rest in the drawer does the trick!

I still need to find a pretty bottle for the fish oil, but for now it sorta blends in to the white wall.

The top and the part of the drawer hold the items we need to make our pups food every day. Ideally the hot water dispenser would be here too,  and will be once the new (non leaking) one arrives.  In the meantime the cutlery which still doesn’t have its final home is sitting in its place!!

I’ve been collecting pretty dishware for some time and love that I get to showcase it on our open shelves. If that’s not you, then closed cabinets are perfect!

The moral of the story is: design and organise based on how you and your family actually use your kitchen (or want to use your kitchen)!

I offer e-design services for those of you not local and in-person consultations and design if you are in the RVA (Richmond, Virginia) area.

If you are stuck in a rut or need some help, email me,  I’d love to work with you.


Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen – Finale

Curating what photos tell the story of the space is one of my favourite parts of project completion.

And so, here is the full reveal of the finished Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen for the One Room Challenge™.

Come on in.




I could sit in this kitchen and stare out the windows for hours.


The white walls, natural materials and plants give the room a Scandinavian feel. The pendant lights still need to be moved over. That’s a long story for another post!

An opportunity arose for a plant nook where the bay window juts out.

I chose this slab of ash to make the shelves out of because of the worm eaten edges. We have similar worm marks in our floors and carrying this pattern into something new helps keep it in character.


If you remember the second post in this One Room Challenge™ Series, there are three entryways in this kitchen. Though each room connecting to the kitchen is its own separate entity, to provide a feeling of flow and continuity, the rooms need to relate to one another.

The bright salmon entry is definitely a statement!  As you walk into the kitchen you’ll notice the rugs, plants and books picking up that colour.  This relates the white and black kitchen back to the entry so that they feel as though they belong together even though they are designed to have a different impact.

Here is what the kitchen looks like from the front entry.

There is a clear line of sight into the laundry/mudroom at the back of the home.

The front door is painted a vibrant teal and you’ll find this brilliant blue as an accent in all of the rooms on the first floor helping to create a cohesive colour scheme. The orange colour on the visible laundry room wall complements the salmon of the entry.


I have added copper pulls to this original built in pantry and the copper on the wallpaper really pulls this wall together.


We don’t often use the microwave, so putting it into the pantry was perfect!

The built in pantry also has a passthrough that goes to the walk-in pantry. The colourful cloth is hiding the square hole because I didn’t want you to be distracted by the mess that is hiding back there! Once the walk in is complete, I’ll open the peekaboo hole up and you’ll be able to see right through.

If you look closer at the details you’ll find many mentions of what makes us feel at home; the Canadian teapot in the pantry, the painting of my very first dog Jules who has long since passed, the cookbooks that we’ve collected over the years featuring adventurous cooking and materials that bring us joy.

A huge part of the charm of this house is the original features, like this Charles Eastlake latch that is on our pantry doors. We have similar original hardware on our front door and Eastlake inspired fireplaces in other rooms of the home.

While we have modernised this kitchen with updated wiring, plumbing and appliances, a lot of thought and consideration went into making sure to preserve the history this house offered us. We’ve kept all the porcelain door knobs, as much of the original wood as possible and re-created what was damaged. We love the old (mostly original) windows and will not be replacing them with vinyl or any such tragedy!


My perspective is a home isn’t ALL about the looks. It really needs to consider how each person uses the space and what elements to include to ensure that you enjoy your life being at home in your home.

O-Ren and Mags say they like their new kitchen too!

That’s it for the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge™.   

I’d like to thank Better Homes and Gardens, as they are the official media sponsor as well as Linda Weinstein for starting and continuing the One Room Challenge™.   

Candis & Andy, from Home Love Network are scouting the guest participants and two will be selected by Better Homes and Gardens to participate as featured designer during the next round.

This was my first time participating as a guest and I am hooked! This was a motivating kick in the pants to finish the details and write about the process. I personally find it easier to speak about the work I do for my clients than the work I do for my own home. Thank you to all of my readers and commenters, I’ve really enjoyed the process and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.



Did you miss previous posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights


Cabinets, Counters and Lights! – Part 5

Last week in the One Room Challenge™, the trim had just been installed. This week we had the cabinets installed and the counters put in!

I didn’t have time to paint all the trim before the cabinets came in, so I painted the lower corner by the far left window that would be difficult to paint after the cabinet install.

The appliances and lights all got delivered and are all stacked here awaiting installation by the electrician.

One of the cabinets came with an extra hole in the door that did not get caught by the cabinet makers quality control team, so they are making me another door.

I got all the trim painted, woo hoo! Next are the final coats of the white wall paint.

I primed the fireplace (and all the doors) with an oil based primer so that subsequent coats of paint stay without scratching or flaking off.

I haven’t mentioned the lighting in any previous posts, but these images below capture the spirit that I was going for. The lights will look similar, but will not be exactly the same as what is pictured below!



I am saving the full effect for the big reveal next week, but here is a glimpse along with our first meal in this house not made on a campstove or the grill outside!


And yes, we used the oven.

Here is the ash slab that I am making the live edge floating shelves out of for the kitchen sink side of the room. It looks a little rough here, but after lots of sanding they look pretty great!

I’ve mentioned the pantry several times over the last few posts, but I highly doubt it will get done in time. Do look for it in a future post though.

That’s it for this week in the One Room Challenge™.  Next week I’ll show you the whole kitchen.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.


Did you miss previous posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – You just read it!

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen

Walls, Floors and Trim – Part 4

The drywallers came in and gave us some new walls! The dust that sanding drywall mud creates is just as fine as plaster dust, but it doesn’t spread as far as the plaster dust did.

The fan shown in this photo will be moved to another room. These old fans with only four blades are definitely unique to the era and we like the look of it when it has its schoolhouse globe on!

Next the whole space got primed.

The blue tape shows the drywaller the areas he needs to finesse before the paint goes on.

Let’s just say that my attention to detail is far more acute than the drywallers! Eventually we made it through the touch ups, but this portion of the job was agonising.

Just the ceiling to go!

And now for the floors.

I mentioned that my husband and I decided to do the floors ourselves in the first post of this One Room Challenge™. series.  As a reminder here is what they looked like.

All of the grey is glue from a previous surface glued to the hardwood. Our floor sanding crew was myself, my husband, my brother and my neighbour.

This is me in the adjoining living room sanding this room at the same time as the kitchen. This is one of the machines we used.

Floor sanding causes the worst dust out of all the dusts I’ve introduced to you so far! As the fine wood dust lands on your skin it sucks the moisture right out of it. I changed my face mask nearly every hour as the fine particulates would clog it right up.

This sweeping compound helped keep the dust on the floor while sweeping between each sand.

It’s getting there. The grey you can still see on the floor is glue still stuck on the floor. Because this home is so old, the wood on the floors is cupped, which basically means some areas are lower than others and we must use different tools to remove the remaining glue.

Ready for stain!

Now before you say, “wait a sec Lora, you missed a spot!” I opted to leave the portion in the top left corner as is, as it will be under the cabinet. Seriously the glue removal was something else!

Here is the stain going on. Floor staining is rather meditative for the first 30 minutes, after that my inner child starts whining, “are we done yet?” Ha!

Here is that same shot of the bare floors now with stain and poly on it!

And on to the Trim!

When the wood trim was removed, it came apart in pieces.

Some of it was salvagable, but most of it wasn’t. A big part of the charm of this Folk Victorian is the millwork! The entryway, living room and study all have this same gorgeous trim.

I went down to a wood shop that specialises in architectural trim and they had a knife already cut that is so close to the original it would be hard to tell them apart. See photo below.

The new trim arrived and got installed.

I’ve also chosen my granite slab and had it laid out at the granite suppliers.

Here it is, you totally guessed right! The movement in this particular slab “had me at hello”, so I was 90% sure I would choose this one. In fact, immediately after seeing the cabinet maker and seeing the samples I called the granite supplier and asked her to hold that particular slab for me!

That’s it for this week in the One Room Challenge™.  Next week we’ll have the electricians installing the lights and appliances, and the cabinets and granite counters will get installed.  I’m busy doing the final painting and making some live edge floating ash shelves.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.




Did you miss previous posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – You just read it!

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen

PS – I’ve gone back and forth a few times on the paint colour for the trim. What do you think would you paint them light or dark?

Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC – Part 3

I find it fascinating how a house works from the internals out and incorporating the parts we see (switches, faucets and lighting) to be an integral part of the design process. I liken wiring, plumbing and HVAC lines to be similar to veins and arteries in our bodies.

I mentioned in my first post in this  One Room Challenge™  Series that my Dad was coming down to help me run the line sets, for the mini split HVAC system — here we go!!

Line sets are two copper pipes covered in insulation that carry the Freon from the large condensing units outside to the small head units placed in each room, an electrical wire, and a line to drain the condensate the small head units make. See image below.

Here is a short video of me feeding a line set through a wall. It was three seconds long, but I slowed it down to show 10 seconds.

My husband was in the crawlspace feeding the line up through the floor, as he would feed it through I (who was on the first floor) would pull it up from the floor then our friend who was on the second floor would feed it from his floor and my dad would pull it up into the attic. The whole time each person would need to speak to the person above or below them, but we had to shout to be heard through the thick walls!

We installed all 8 line sets, with four lines running through the kitchen walls. It took a lot of persistence, this old house has some massive wood used as studs!!


Then, I labelled each line at each small head unit as well as in the basement where they will be connected to the two outdoor condensing units.

It’s taken the electricians 3 weeks to install all of the rough-in electrical throughout the whole house and some of the kitchen wiring will happen after the cabinets are installed.

The drywallers will be in next to repair the holes the electricians had to make in various rooms, along with adding new sheetrock throughout the kitchen where the wood paneling and plaster was removed.

These wires are for our disposal and outlet by the kitchen sink.

And here is the plumbing getting stubbed out for the sink and dishwasher.

Speaking of sinks….

I went to the granite supplier and looked at the slabs that they had available and while I was there I checked out their sinks so that we could decide on the configuration we wanted. Initially I was going to just do the standard 50/50 sink, but as I like to cook and make preserves I decided to go with the 60/40 sink as it’s larger and deeper than a standard 50/50. In the 70/30 or 30/70 sink a full size plate wouldn’t fit flat like you see in the 60/40 sink image below so that sealed the deal for me!

Counters and Cabinets

The cabinet dimensions are all sorted and now I have to choose a colour! I find white cabinets to be beautiful in principal, but in our family where we actively cook and make messes, I’ve found that it bothers me to no end when the cabinets don’t get wiped down after every meal. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense!

Image #1 shows the picture I sent to the cabinet makers. Image #2 is one of the samples the cabinetmaker did for me, along with a few cabinet pull selections. They got pretty close and are doing a darker sample for me too!

Image #3 and #4 are the two granite types I’ve narrowed my options down to.

What do you think, will I choose the white granite or the black granite?


Next week, I’ll share some of the pantry, the drywall and some lighting fixtures  along with some more progress in the One Room Challenge™.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.



Did you miss other posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC – You Just read it!

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen

Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust, Oh My – Part 2

I’ve lived in homes with some of the worst (aka) tiny kitchens out there. I’ve always been able to make them work, but let me tell you, having a custom kitchen designed for you is the BOMB!

For the kitchen to be functional for both my husband and I we each need separate workstations. We’ve found that having hers and his cutting boards, frying pans, knives,  pantry shelves and even drawers to be the answer to continual wedded bliss.

This week in the One Room Challenge™ I’ll be sharing some layout options we considered and showing you some progress! Check out the previous post here.

I always like to do five or six design iterations before paring them back and choosing the best two concepts to present  to the client. This 14′ x 15′ room (at the largest part of the bay window)  presents several layout challenges with its three doorways, one built-in pantry, one fireplace and three low to the floor windows.

Even when inside I like feeling a connection to nature.  I designed several layouts with the counters in front of the low windows (25″ from the floor). I know most people would take out the 100 + year old windows and upgrade them to energy efficient with a low E coating, but I feel that the wavy glass and the wood in the original double hung windows to be essential to how this 100 year old home feels. As the counter height is 36″, each window has a 10″ “planter box” inset into the counter/cabinet area to ensure that the counter and cabinets look like they belong in front of the window.

Here is a layout showing this style:

As pricing came back for this layout, it was more expensive than I originally thought. In this layout below I took out the counters and cabinets along the bay window wall and enlarged the island. Next I laid it out on the actual floor to see how it flowed in real life.

The tape lines on the far left of the image show the counter as a standard 24″ wide counter and as a 30″ counter. The short tape lines near the island layout show how the island could shift over.

The two pictures above are opposite views of the layout. The island will definitely have to be shortened to allow flow from the living room to get by the fridge.

Next, I consulted with the cabinet makers to decide on the layout of the drawers and shelves before finalising the design.

Here is a rendering of the layout while we are deciding on the final details.

Did I mention that we are living in our Reno????

No, I don’t think that’s come up yet. We set up a campstove for our “reno kitchen” in our two room living space, purchased a brand new fridge and had it delivered (twice, but that’s a story for another post) and we settled in, as much as you can in a roughing it situation!

Work has started the wood paneling was removed along with the plaster and lath walls! Plaster dust is one of the finest dust that I’ve discovered so far in our renovation adventures.

I used a shop vac to remove as much dust as I could, but then I ran my trusty hoover around the room too! Only use your home vacuum for renovation dust if you are prepared to replace it — the fine dust gets into the engine and will kill it. At this point in the renovation I am prepared to buy as many vacuums as needed!

This is as clean as I am able to make this room. Plaster bits continue to fall.

The plaster dust seeps its way into our living quarters and everything is covered in a fine layer of dust. Woo hoo, welcome to renovation living!

We did have a happy surprise though — there is beautiful brick above the mantle! I should say, that it will be beautiful once it’s cleaned up!

Here is a panoramic shot of the kitchen. I am standing between the french doors and the fireplace.

Yes, that is knob and tube wiring you see! We opted for a full rewire of the entire house!

We were very happy to see the blown in insulation on the outer walls!

Next week, I’ll share some of the pantry, as that is part of my participation in One Room Challenge™, along with some more progress!

The next steps in this room is getting the plumbing roughed in, the electrical roughed in and the HVAC linesets run through the walls while they are opened up.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™



Did you miss other posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust – You Just Read It
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC 

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen


Adding a Kitchen in a Light Filled Folk Victorian – Part 1

“How about you just put the kitchen where the old kitchen was?”

Every contractor that walked through the old Folk Victorian house asked me this question.

My internal gut reaction every time was “No, no, no, no, no — Just no”.

The old kitchen was in smallest room at the back of the house with only one window and the back door entered directly next to the old sink — can you say awkward?

I’ve lived in plenty of homes where everyone would squish into the tiny kitchen even though I’d made a concerted effort to create other gathering areas. It’s like a magnet. The kitchen always becomes the main gathering space.

The kitchen is the heart of a home and for me it needed to feel inspiring, calm and be beautiful.

The room I chose to be the kitchen was likely the dining room at one point as it had a built in pass through directly from the pantry. I’ll talk more about the layout next week, but what hooked me immediately were the three very large bay windows on one wall, overlooking greenery outside.

Here is how we found this room when we first saw it:

Dark, dusty and needing some vision.

It’s easier to visualise possibility with the sheets moved 🙂

This is the left side of the room if you are facing the glorious windows, and the door leads to the front entryway. Also shown is the one of six fireplaces in this Folk Victorian home!

That fake wood panelling is something else, right? And yes, the previous owner had started renovating upstairs and had brought in these terrible cabinets that he was going to use in the kitchen!

Beside the fireplace are french doors leading into the living room. Here I am measuring, before we had closed on the house!

On the right side of the room is the built in pantry, with the pass through from the walk-in pantry.


I won’t go into all of the details in this post, but the only way we were able to obtain a mortgage on this property was through a renovation loan, called a 203K loan because the home had no kitchen and no heat and therefore deemed unlivable!

In order to close on this property we had to have our general contractor submit a full bid for the work, which meant I needed to design the kitchen, the bathroom, decide the full scope of work we wanted completed and choose where every single outlet, light and switch needed to go so the contractors could give us an accurate bid.

In October 2017 I designed five or six potential layouts for the kitchen and as our bids came in I revisited the design. The closing process on a 203K is extremely long as there are a lot of people and paperwork involved. January 3rd, 2018 we closed on the home and work started mid January.

The One Room Challenge

I had heard of the one room challenge, where selected designers and guests tackle one room start to finish in a six week period. I signed up on a whim yesterday as a guest challenger mostly because I had been putting off getting my website started and sharing behind the scenes progress.

Now that the end is in sight for our reno, this is the perfect time to keep on keeping on with the detail work. I’ll be showing you the kitchen and pantry over the next month or so.

Here are (some) of the inspiration photos that I gathered before starting in on the design.


Photo Credits: 1 -Ljusa Drommar Pa Landet, 2 – Smith Hanes Studio, 3 – The Little 4 – Cassie at Hi Sugarplum 5 – Effie Genovese 6 – Unknown 7 – Lilla Blanka

Image 1: I want to pull in the Scandinavian influences with its white backdrop, plants-a-plenty and natural elements such as wood, sunlight and candles.

Image 2 & 6: Have open floating shelves like image two, but make them out of live edge wood like in image six.

Image 3: Shaker style cabinetry because of it’s simplicity and ease of cleaning. I’m very drawn to the medium dark grey so that it hides dirt, but I am considering various shades of blue cabinetry too.

Image 4: The drama of the tile and the brilliant red carpet — oh yummy!

Image 5: Dark counters and the range in the island so that you are looking at your guests as you do your last final meal prep.

Image 7: This is the feeling of calm inspiration. Can you imagine yourself standing with a glass of wine or cup of tea staring out the window at the birds?


What’s involved with our project and who’s doing the work

As we are doing a full house renovation, I’m going to detail what work went on in the kitchen.

General Contractor  – Remove wood panelling, all the trim around the windows, doors (there are three) and built-in pantry.

Save wood trim to put back up.

Install drywall and mud, and bring up to paint ready.

Put wood trim back up.

Install new custom cabinets, counters, plumbing, all new electrical, hang lights and install the appliances.

Replace a couple of broken windows.

Lora and crew:

All design, colour choices, finishes and decor.

Re-do the sash cords on the windows. Fortunately my neighbour is an experienced carpenter and taught me how to rehang the weights that help the window to move.

Install lines for ductless mini-splits. My dad is a retired HVAC installer and he came down to give us guidance and help running the line sets to the 8 head units. Only one is in the kitchen. My mom and uncle also came down from Canada to give us a hand.

Prime and paint all surfaces in the interior. The house had primarily been vacant for the previous 10 years or so and every single surface needed cleaning before priming and painting. It took two of us 6 weeks to paint the ceilings, walls, windows, doors and fireplaces. There are still touch ups ongoing and I still feel a little ill when I see my “painting pants”!

For some crazy reason, my husband and I decided that we would restore the floors ourselves. The floors are a hard yellow pine, and in the kitchen and living room they were covered in glue which made sanding especially difficult in these two rooms.  The grey you see on the floor is the glue. So all of the floor!

After that, stain and poly the floor.

I am making the shelves from a slab of ash along with a moveable table which becomes an extension of our island. The open shelves will be mounted so that they are floating which means you can’t see the hardware that attaches them to the wall.

Make and install pantry shelves and all items in the the walk-in pantry.

Install the backsplash.

Also whatever miscellaneous projects that are sure to come up.

Next week I’ll show you the layout options I considered, what we decided on and some progress images!

One full year later, we are in the midst of the whole house renovation, and we are very happy it’s coming to an end!

This is what my kitchen ceiling looked like this morning, and it’s nicely patched up this evening. Even with great contractors, accidents happen!

In the meantime, you should definitely check out what other designers are up to in the One Room Challenge™


Want to check out other posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before – You just read this one
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale, Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen