Something Different

The V6B Design Group of Vancouver, the only Western Canadian firm to capture not one but three awards at Art of the Industry, the 2007 National Kitchen and Bath Association Design Competition, is back at work designing the type of knock-out kitchens that have earned the company international acclaim.

Earl Lawson of V6B explains that the project here, a West Side kitchen makeover, called for a a natural, comfortable combination of antique furniture, modern conveniences, and folk art.

Left: Existing kitchen area was quite confined.

The area was quite confined so a lot of thought had to go into pulling the various finishes together. As it turned out, the client had an eclectic sense and was anxious to do something different, he said.

V6B certainly did something different. The kitchen became a combination of traditional painted inset cabinetry and dark stained European style wood cabinets, and a butcher block peninsula, all bridged with a stainless sink, and clean up centre, dropped into a stainless countertop.

Condo Bath On A Budget

Looks like granite, but the countertop is two-inch-thick laminate, at a cost of about $375 to cover six feet

Yet the bathroom is a small space and, with the variety of bath-related products on today’s market, you can refresh yours to look fantastic on a very slim budget, said a cost-conscious consultant.

It’s the same idea as transforming your office-appropriate look to night-on-the-town glam.

First, says Jeffrey Rebiffe, of the My House Design Build team, think of creating a focal point for your bathroom makeover.

“Because the bathroom is small, pay attention to details where the eye will look first,” he said. As such, cabinets may not be as important as countertops.

A high-end imported granite or marble can cost $1,500 to cover six feet of counter. But Rebiffe explains that laminate countertops wear extremely well and are available in any style, including marble or granite designs. For a standard laminate of 1.25 inches thick, the cost to cover six feet would be about $225. Go crazy and upgrade to a two-inch thick super laminate, and the cost is only about $150 more. Plus you’ll save on the labour costs of installing vinyl laminate.

You can save on faucets by ignoring both expensive designer styles and very low-cost knockoffs. Instead, Rebiffe said, choose products from established, mass-produced brands like Delta and Moen, who not only compete in styles with the European designer labels, but are low-maintenance and usually fit right into existing plumbing.

Plumbing, in fact, is a key factor in a budget bathroom makeover, Rebiffe said. In general, do not move any of the plumbing fixtures, just replace faucets and showerheads. For the toilet, go with proven brands and don’t get too fancy. “Honestly, people aren’t wowed by a designer toilet,” Rebiffe said.

For low-cost, high-quality floor tiles, Rebiffe recommends heading to “tile central” around Burnaby’s Boundary-Lougheed area, home to wholesalers Tierra Sol, Julian Tile and Ames Tile. “You can save 90 per cent off the regular price on incredible tiles,” he said. Imported slate border tiles that can cost up to $9 each can be found for $1 to $2.

Also, check building-supply dealers. The sudden downturn in condo building has left some with large inventories of bath items.

Rebiffe also recommends bright paint, perhaps two contrasting shades to get a wow look. He also notes that many lighting stores have low-cost mirrors, and the combination of the right lights and mirrors can truly transform a bath at low cost.

Other tips: go with standard sinks or porcelain vessels – undermounted sinks can be expensive to install. Never opt for a steel enamel sink, no matter how inexpensive. “They always look cheap,” he said.

According to Rebiffe, a standard six-foot-by-eight-foot condo bathroom can be changed completely for less than $2,000 with planning and some legwork.

How to save money

  • Use marble- or granite-design thick laminates for countertops.
  • Buy local, brand-name faucets.
  • Scout Burnaby tile wholesalers for great deals on imports.
  • Paint in vibrant colours.
  • Match lighting and mirrors.
  • Buy quality towels and light accessories for a finishing touch.

Subtly Accessible

British Columbia has one of the fastest-aging populations in Canada, and the physical limitations that age can bring is being reflected in bathroom makeovers.

Yet, as the team at Kenorah Construction and Design Ltd. found recently, the challenge is to design a modern, stylish and accessible bath that in no way is to look like a bathroom serving a physical handicap, explained design leader Gordon Taylor.

The South Surrey client, in his 60s, had ailments that restricted mobility in his 1970s rancher. He wanted a European-style luxury bath that would not only look great but also allow easy access now and into the future.

Kenorah replied with a design that virtually eliminates barriers, by removing the shower door and curb and adjusting the floor joists to accommodate a gradual slope for drainage. The bathroom was expanded by 14 inches and a tempered glass pony wall, anchored to the foundation, was installed to separate the shower from the rest of the space.

The shower system is a fully adjustable Grohe eight-inch Rain shower head, wand and shower bar. Radiant heating is installed beneath the over-sized porcelain floor tiles.

A cirrus white Corian bench running the full length of the bathroom enables the client to easily access the shower, which is equipped with a Grohe eight-inch Rain shower head, wand, and shower bar.

Kenorah replied with a design that virtually eliminates barriers, by removing the shower door and curb and adjusting the floor joists to accommodate a gradual slope for drainage. The bathroom was expanded by 14 inches and a tempered glass pony wall, anchored to the foundation, was installed to separate the shower from the rest of the space.

A cirrus white Corian bench running the full length of the bathroom enables the client to easily access the shower, which is equipped with a Grohe eight-inch Rain shower head, wand, and shower bar.

Timeless Taste

Vancouver’s brilliant Robert Ledingham is the first Canadian designer to win the International Interior Design Association Leadership Award, and has collected scores of other honours during his 30 years at the top of the interior design field. He was recently entrusted to create a visionary kitchen for a super-luxury condominium development at the University of British Columbia.

We know, this isn’t a kitchen makeover, but we believe Ledingham’s ideas are well worth stealing.
The residences at Intracorp’s exclusive Stirling House, just 10 in all and priced from $1.15 million to $3.6 million, are thought to define contemporary interior design in Vancouver.
In an interview, Ledingham explained, “I’m looking for the sort of materials that will have a timeless quality, that 15 years from now will still look good in the space.”

Kitchen makeover

This is the same concept that savvy homeowners should carry into their own kitchen renovations.
The first thing you notice in the sleek Stirling kitchen is that the refrigerator has disappeared in the open floor plan. The 36-inch Sub-Zero is hidden within the Varenna custom-designed flat panel kitchen cabinets.

Such top-of-the-line appliances define Ledingham’s desire for timeless quality. These include a Miele 27-inch stainless steel wall oven and stainless steel warming drawer, each with Profi handles. A Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer dishwasher tucks discreetly into the entertainment-style wet island, while a large Panasonic Genius Prestige Invertor stainless steel microwave oven is built into the cabinets. The range hood is a Cristal by Faber, a high-powered, three-speed model.

Kitchen makeover

All of the countertops are Quarella quartz composite stone, which wears extremely well and will not stain. The backsplash is a tempered glass panel that reaches to the underside of the cabinets.

The message from the master designer: design your makeover for the future with quality and clarity as your guides.

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.

Masterful Ensuite

The direction from the client, a well-known and well-travelled Greater Vancouver chef, was simple: the master suite renovation had to be masculine, yet warm and inviting, “like a luxury hotel.”

The house, set on ocean view property in Ladner, was certainly worth the upscale upgrade, which was entrusted to veteran contractors Kenorah Construction and Design Ltd., of Delta, and cost $78,000 to complete.

The result proved impressive to judges in the annual Georgie competition, which named it the best master suite renovation in the province for 2006.

The ensuite is part of a whole-house renovation (the kitchen portion was profiled in Home Makeover last summer) yet extra care was taken in this, the busy client’s private sanctuary.
The custom-built limestone and glass shower, for example, features black beauty granite seating and shelving, an oversized Grohe rain head-shower, and multi-head, adjustable body spray system.

The hand-built floating cabinets are lit from beneath and support a custom crafted sink made from travertine marble.

The BainUltra air-jet soaker tub is framed in granite and boasts a view-through gas fireplace perched at one end.

The flooring, warmed by in-floor radiant heating, is finished in large 18-by-36-inch limestone tiles, with African hardwood extending to the bedroom area.

A nod to the environment is found in the reclaimed leaded glass doors that discreetly shield the low-flow dual-flush Caroma toilet and bidet.

Access to the outdoor pool and garden area is through Euroline Tilt-and-Turn French doors.
The natural gas fireplace, wireless remote controlled lighting and high-end audio system add to the sensual and luxurious experiences provided by this makeover space.