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Family Kitchen Transformation: From Awkward to Amazing!

Posted February 25, 2020

The owners of this Barrhaven family home came to us with a common problem: their kitchen was dated, awkward, and just wasn’t meeting their needs. The transformation it underwent was stunning!

Earlier renovations to the home had created more contemporary spaces, but the kitchen was one area that did not fit that contemporary vibe. We needed to help them personalize the space to improve functionality for a husband who loves cooking, while meeting the aesthetic goals of a wife who hates mess.

The general layout of the space did not change much, but the kitchen looks drastically different — it’s now fresh, bright, and functional. We optimized the floorplan to create a gourmet kitchen that provided ease of movement with lots of storage, ample prep space, and top-of-the-line appliances.

Before & after


Before: Dark and dated, a clunky angled island overwhelmed the space, while a bulky corner pantry was inefficient and the room felt small. The dark, traditional cabinets did little to liven things up, nor did the glass block peekaboo windows in the backsplash.

After: Flat-panelled white perimeter cabinets recede to allow the appliance wall and island — in horizontal walnut — to pop for a pleasing balance. Clean lines and complementary materials add to the streamlined look and feel.

two-tone contemporary kitchen in white and walnut Amsted Design-Build Ottawa renovations

The suite of Miele appliances included a built-in coffee maker, hidden behind the door above the microwave. Custom venting was installed for the coffee maker, allowing it to stay hidden even when in use.

two-tone contemporary kitchen in white and walnut Amsted Design-Build Ottawa renovations

Floating shelves match the walnut cabinets of the island and the opposite wall, creating a vignette to display cookbooks and more. And in keeping with the white-on-white theme, the backsplash tile, which continues up the full height of the wall, is subtle in a stacked brick pattern and white gloss. The counter, meanwhile, is white quartz with no variation.

two-tone contemporary kitchen in white and walnut Amsted Design-Build Ottawa renovations

An induction cooktop with concealed hood and an integrated dishwasher hidden behind a panel beside the sink are in keeping with the streamlined look. And although the kitchen was brightened significantly by switching to white cabinetry, adding pot lights and under-cabinet lights on dimmers provide excellent room and task lighting.

two-tone contemporary kitchen in white and walnut Amsted Design-Build Ottawa renovations

Although there were no issues such as structural changes to contend with, there were challenges.

The family chose to stay in the home throughout construction, which meant having to create a strategic schedule to ensure they always had a functional living space during each stage of construction. They were also without their kitchen for some time, through the summer break.

The clients’ daughter had a severe nut allergy, which meant everyone coming into the home had to be hyper aware of what they were bringing in terms of food. Although a serious issue, we took a cheeky approach to keeping everyone informed with a sign posted on the door reminding everyone to “check your nuts.”

The security of the family’s expensive Bengal cat was also a primary concern. The cat was always seeking to escape, and so all workers and visitors to the site were also warned to watch out for the cat and ensure he remained indoors.

Perhaps a bit surprisingly, despite owning a cat, the family had experienced issues with mice in the past and wanted to do everything possible to minimize a recurrence. That meant they were looking for a design aesthetic that left no place to hide — whether dirt or rodent. Every square inch of the space was therefore accounted for in this renovation, with a focus on clean lines and bright whites that would make it easy to identify and clean the dirt.

The homeowners now finally have a kitchen that matches the style of the rest of their home and gives them a gourmet-chef-worthy space that’s also easy to keep clean.