Go With The Flow

The East Vancouver homeowners faced a challenge: transform three separate and boxy rooms – a kitchen, a dining room and a dilapidated old laundry room – into a modern, energy-efficient kitchen while retaining the old home’s heritage character.

Ratcheting up the complexities was that the laundry room had been built out over a deck during a previous renovation, and the years of washing had rotted out the sub floor.

“This project presented some unique obstacles,” was the understatement from Jim Bahnuk of Briar Design and Construction Ltd. in Vancouver, who has 20 years of experience in the renovation business.

The owners’ goal was to retain the home’s 1920s original heritage style, though the project had to begin with immediate demolition.

Briar’s first step was to rip up and replace the laundry floor, including new floor joists. Then, a wall-to-wall bank of windows converted this once-dysfunctional dark room into a sun-drenched, cozy solarium perfect for lounging in or watching television.

Inside, the walls between the old kitchen and dining room were removed, opening up the space for the new kitchen. During the work, Briar reclaimed a three-foot-wide section that was once a chimney surround and converted it into a full-height pantry and appliance storage cabinet.

New, energy-efficient windows were added, but in keeping with the heritage theme, they are single-hung models faced with simple, flat-stock casings. This look was carried into the kitchen cabinets, which reintroduced Shaker-style contours in an ivory colour. The new, custom-made crown mouldings are designed to match the angularity of the owners’ Mission-style furniture. Other nods to the heritage character include real hardwood flooring and a backsplash of brick-like Subway tiles.

A peninsula-style counter extension, and a new island achieve visual separation from the kitchen’s working area while still allowing family and guests to interact.

Briar also installed three types of lighting into the kitchen: enlarged windows to flood the room with natural light, under-counter task lighting and ceiling lights in a combination of pot lights and soft frosted pendants.

The end result, completed this summer, is a great-room kitchen that has the latest in EnerGuide-rated appliances and finishing yet retains a heritage charm.

“Although the overall footprint was not changed, the interconnectivity makes the space feel significantly larger,” Bahnuk said.

The makeover was a contender in the 2009 Georgie competition for the best kitchen renovation in B.C.