Back to the futurePublished on January 30, 2012

  • Before the renovation.

  • After the renovation.

  • Joanne (left) and Sarah gained a friendship through renovation challenges.

Now that we are well into the design era of the 21st century, being stuck in the 1980s is not where most of us want to be! But, this was the predicament Joanne Trépanier and Bob Hoag faced with the kitchen in their Orléans home.

In classic Ď80s style, the well-used space was high in funky features and low in function. With an awkwardly angled peninsula and an obtrusive bay window, the kitchen needed a design makeover.

After making the decision to renovate, the couple was faced with the challenge of finding a designer. Despite being told, more than once, that not much could be done to rework the space, they refused to give up. With a tenacious spirit and positive outlook they headed to last year's Ottawa Spring Home Show where Joanne met interior decorator Sarah Kidder of Sarah Kidder Designs. She saw the potential of the project immediately and was up for the challenge, working closely with the contractor Gerry Brazeau Construction and cabinet maker Sébo Woodwork.

The end result was not only a kitchen with high-functioning space and up-to-date style, but a tribute to all involved. The client, contractor and designer worked through the ups and downs of a complex renovation and had nothing but good words to say about each other. Joanne, Sarah and Bob also gained more than just an excellent client/decorator relationship; they formed a firm friendship during a difficult time.

Midway through the renovation, Joanne was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a serious and life-threatening illness. Sarah praised Joanne for her positive and determined outlook during the project and also for the tenacious perseverance she applied to getting her condition diagnosed.

Parallels can definitely be drawn between Joanne's persistence at finding a designer who could make her kitchen dreams come true and her insistence that there was something physically wrong with her, even though medical tests repeatedly came back clear. Both experiences prompted Joanne to offer the simple advice: "Don't take no for an answer - with anything in life."

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