Before & After

July 21, 2023

Before & After: A 1970s Bowen Island Cabin Gets A Modern Refresh

Trained to spot a gem, realtor Ruthie Shugarman saw potential when this 1970s-era waterfront Bowen Island cabin came to market in 2019. She and her lawyer husband, Danny, had long been searching for the perfect cabin in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy with their two teen children, Talia and Cooper, and this one hit all the right notes. Its clean-lined, three-story frame sat perched on Grafton Bay and captured perfect sunsets, while its almost 3,100-square-foot interiors, lined in cedar paneling with a 1970s galley kitchen in citrus hues, presented opportunities to riff on a design era Ruthie loved. It all went swimmingly—until the tide turned.

“At first, I embraced the little yellow kitchen,” says Ruthie. “It felt like a perennial pop of sunshine during the pandemic’s first cold, rainy winter.” But by the spring of 2020, the family found themselves spending more time here and Ruthie struggled to make the small space work. She tried adding updates like pastel-colored Smeg appliances—a pink toaster, an aqua blender, but it always felt wrong. “It started to feel like a lemonade stand,” she laughs.

The following spring, the couple made the decision: it was time for the cramped lemon kitchen to undergo a facelift.  She turned to friend and trained architect-turned-designer Jocelyn Ross of JRStudioworks. Jocelyn envisioned a space that felt both maritime-like without being kitschy, but also something that didn’t feel precious. Instead of eschewing the 1970s cedar, the designer leaned into it. Cabinets would be navy contrasted with white backsplash tile all framed in cedar.

We chatted with the architectural designer to find out how this kitchen went from bright to bold in a few key steps.