The crazy weather last week in Calgary caused a mix of anxiety and alarm. The anxiety arose when we had to drive in winter conditions unprepared without winter tires or snow brushes on hand. The alarm came from the shock of having beautiful sunshine just two days before and then afterwards the broken branches we came home to find in our yards.

It made me compare the unexpected weather of Calgary to a renovation. It is not uncommon to meet obstacles along the way when you are renovating: A framer fell playing hockey and broke an arm, demolition revealed mold in the walls, the granite slab you picked out was dropped in the shop…The list can go on and on.

There are two items that must be emphasized in order to reduce the anxiety and alarm when embarking on a home renovation. Number one is to always be prepared with a good plan and the second is to expect the unexpected.

A good plan is a must. Hire a professional to make sure it is done correctly and all details have been thought out. An Interior Designer can make sure all details are accounted for and recorded in a form that can be easily translated by all involved. This will ensure that what you envisioned in your mind becomes a reality in the end. Furthermore choices and decisions should be made before your renovation proceeds so that you are not under a time crunch and make hasty decisions that you are not happy with later.

No matter how prepared you are for a renovation it takes many pieces to fall into place to make it all come together. Take it all in stride.  Make sure you have a contingency plan. Have an extra 10% to 15% in extra funds as padding just in case. When walls open up you can find things that no one could have foreseen. Old leaks caused damage that must be repaired or building code issues such as plumbing must be updated. Extra insulation of funds can come in handy. Time is another part of the contingency plan. Tile is discontinued or lighting is delivered damaged. These take time to order and will most likely cause a delay. Most renovations for many reasons take longer than what was originally planned. Do not ever plan a renovation to finish just weeks before Christmas when you have invited all your relatives to stay with you. That is a sure fire way to cause a great deal of alarm and stress to you and the contractor!

Having a great plan beforehand and knowing the probability of things not always going as planned will keep the anxiety and the alarm to a minimum during a renovation. Us Calgarians know this all too well when dealing with the weather. Although most of us do not carry our winter tires in the back seat all summer we do learn to prepare when we can and roll with the punches when the weather does not go as planned.



I love kitchens! They are an essential part of every house. For families, the kitchen is the central gathering space, it is the homework or craft room or even at times, it is “party central”. Of course, the most important role of the kitchen is preparing, cooking and serving meals. If your kitchen is not appealing and functional, it makes meals more of a chore. Tasks are simpler (and more enjoyable) with easy access to kitchen appliances, adequate space in front of appliances, sufficient work areas and appropriate transitions from one area to another (preparing, cooking, cleaning and storing).

Along with these aspects of a good working kitchen comes ample storage; one of the most sought after “wants” expressed by my clients! There never seems to be enough functional storage space.  When renovating a kitchen, there are a few easy ways to get more storage space out of your kitchen without necessarily knocking down walls.

My first suggestion is to always bring up the height of your cabinets. Items that you do not use as often, such as serving dishes and china will go on the upper shelves.

Secondly, you need to get rid of that corner pantry! It is such a poor use of space for the amount of area it takes up. In any house I enter, no matter how neat and organized the homeowners are, the corner pantry invariably looks like the one below when it is opened up. And this is one of the neater ones I have seen! Now just try finding the cocoa powder for those brownies…

It is hard to find items in a corner pantry - Google Images It is hard to find items in a corner pantry – Google Images


Also, I suggest utilizing pull-out pantry drawers to easily find and access items in the back of a cabinet. A large heavy duty pull-out drawer can also be great for storing all those small appliances that usually take up valuable counter space.  Lower ‘magic corner’ cabinets are terrific as well.  They give you access to otherwise useless storage in the hidden corner of cabinets.

There are so many more options for maximizing your storage that I could go on for pages! Take advantage of your designer (me, I hope) to help you find all the best ways to make storage work for you in your kitchen.

Happy cooks make happy meals!







 The most vital room in the house is the kitchen. This culinary space is the heart of the home, whether a large family or a single person dwells within. My family spends most of our time anchored to this room while we’re doing homework, entertaining family and friends or devouring a quick breakfast before hockey practice. At this moment, it also serves as my office, so I am thinking about investing in more comfortable bar stools! The sun is streaming through the windows; I have my cup of coffee close at hand and have fresh air coming through the back door. It is my favorite room in the house. Most likely it is your family’s favorite as well.

 The amount of time we spend in our kitchens is reflective of the budget and planning that this room deserves in comparison to other rooms in the house. High quality planning is essential for the “here and now” in our kitchens, but it is also great for resale value later on down the road. A fabulous (and practical!) kitchen adds value to our homes and requires thoughtful, knowledgeable planning. Take the time and additional expense required to get it right!

Kitchen renovations come in all sizes: full renovations with new cabinets, new counter tops and island, or perhaps something simple like new backsplash tile or paint. Clearly evaluating and identifying how your family uses (or would like to use) this crucial room is a first step. What works in your current kitchen and what needs to be changed?  Planning also means thinking about the possibility of selling your home and what the design of your kitchen may mean to a potential buyer down the road. A kitchen with good ‘bones’ will make it easier for future buyers to make this space their own. Good planning is important in any renovation, but paramount for a kitchen renovation.

To get exactly what you need and want from your kitchen, hire an expert to advise you. It may cost a little more, but you will end up with a kitchen that works for you and will add exceptional value to your house. Designers are trained to create skillful plans and will provide detailed drawings so that homeowners can visualize how the new space will look and feel. These drawings also communicate to a contractor how a kitchen should be built.  This assures that you get exactly what you envisioned!

So, please, resist the temptation to go ahead prematurely because you have family coming for Christmas or cabinets are on sale at Home Depot. Rushing a renovation can result in mistakes like dark, impractical work areas, inconvenient access to kitchen appliances, insufficient storage and an uninviting space for your family and guests, in other words, unnecessary grief and expense later on.

My point in a nutshell?

Hire an Interior Designer, develop an effective plan, and get the kitchen you desire…because your family is worth it!



What Are You Waiting for?

May 18, 2010

I was in a lighting store the other day with my husband. He was on his lunch break and came along “for the ride”. After pointing out a light fixture I would like over our kitchen table, he said to me, “Well, what are you waiting for?” If you knew my husband, even a little, […]

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