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With the extraneous walls down, old kitchen removed, ceilings opened up and a mini-bathroom removed, we can start to breathe again, literally and figuratively! Our asthmatic cat Buster is happy to no longer be sequestered upstairs. The flow of the house is starting to return. We wanted to spend some time in the space before making any major design decisions, which has helped us to understand the house’s quirks, how the light moves throughout the day, and how much we can hear our neighbours through the shared wall. But, it’s not all time wasted: while making these decisions, we have been moving ahead with decidedly less glamorous things: a new furnace and water heater, and new wiring.

Photo: Renovation before picture

Doing the reno slowly allows time to just stare at the space, usually what it takes to get to that Eureka! moment, or a sense of utter exhaustion, whichever comes first.

Now faced with a blank canvas, we can arrange the kitchen/dining room however we want — or so we thought. Our first plan, situating the kitchen behind the staircase wall (above), would have cost quite a bit more to relocate plumbing, and would cause the counter to jut out too much into the hallway. This last realization came when I went down the hall here at the H&H offices to “Ask A Designer” (a.k.a. Cameron MacNeil) for his thoughts on this plan (a definite job perk). He said it is ideal to have 42” for a hall passageway. Scratch plan A.

Photo: Inspiration photo causual dining

On to plan B: a medium sized-galley with a beautiful exposed-brick wall and a dining area by the bay window with a cosy couch, much like having a Swedish kitchen sofa. (I love that they even have a word for this: köksoffa!)

I am imagining late-night dinners that go on and on…

Photo: Inspiration photo causual dining with bench seating

And, like the traditional Swedish kitchen sofa, extra sleeping room for guests who stay all night.

Photo: Renovation before picture - exposing brick

In the demo, we discovered that we do indeed have a lovely looking brick wall in the kitchen area, but unsightly pipes from the upstairs bathroom, and a heating duct (covered in asbestos, I might add) are foiling the plan! We also found an old pocket-door that had been plastered into the walls, a circa-1950 Russian coin, some 1960s baseball cards, and my favourite, a horseshoe.

So it seems the house will dictate the design. Now, our options are to move the duct and conceal the water pipes in the ceiling with a bulkhead (not my favourite), or move on to plan C, subway tiles:

Photo: Inspiration - subway tiles in the kitchen

Or, failing that, move down the alphabet to plan D and embrace the heating duct for a slightly more industrial look:

Photo: Inspiration - industrial look

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

For more inspiration, view Lynda Reeves’ Kitchen Renovation photos.

Photo credits:
1. Catherine MacIntosh
2. Living Etc October 2008
3. Hello Tiger blog, photography by Anna/Juniform
4. Catherine MacIntosh
5. From
House & Home May 2007 issue, photography by Mark Olson
6. Living Etc September 2009

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