Perfecting the pastPublished on February 24, 2008

  • Faith and Gerd Schneider's renovated Glebe kitchen. Photography by Darren Brown

  • TRADITIONAL CHARM: The addition of a personal gallery space above the classic Mission-style cabinets is the perfect place to display the family’s collection of plates and pottery. Photography by Darren Brown

  • When it came to choosing flooring surfaces, Faith and Gerd selected natural cork for its eco-friendly and practical attributes. Not only is cork stylish and durable, but it turns any cool room into a cozy retreat. Photography by Darren Brown

When Faith Schneider witnessed the demolition of her gutted Glebe kitchen a few months ago, the spectre of doubt cast a large shadow over her renovation plans.

"I spent a lot of nights lying awake, thinking ‘Did I do the right thing?'" she admits. "As they started destroying the kitchen where I'd cooked all of these thousands of meals over the past 25 years, I felt a sense of loss. But I couldn't be more pleased with the end results."

Wanting their 250-square-foot kitchen to be more functional and inviting, Faith and her husband, Gerd, turned to Richard Macartney, of Macartney Fine Home Construction, and kitchen designer Lorin Russell, of Muskoka Cabinet Company, for help this past fall. The renovation in the Glebe kitchen required a major update, yet had to maintain the character found in the 80-year-old house located just steps from the Rideau Canal.

They decided to play up the Arts and Crafts details found in the stately home's architecture and added clean lines in the cabinets, windows and doors. The room was reorganized by shifting the main door and taking down a partial wall to make full use of an old addition at the back of the space. Period details were added, including cream-coloured subway tiles for the backsplash and school-house pendant light fixtures. Modern touches include the addition of stainless steel appliances, an island with a breakfast bar and maintenance-free speckled brown quartz countertops.

The biggest challenge during the three-month project was removing a hump in the floor where the old addition began, says Richard. "It rode up three inches right where the island is now, so we cut the entire floor out to the ground and lowered it down," he explains. "Faith came home and just stared at the dirt. She had no idea that's what it would take."

Richard adds that he also enjoys the challenge of renovating Ottawa's grand residences. "I really like the integrity of the old houses and I really hate to go and wreck certain parts," he says. "It's almost like defacing the house. We like to bring back the heritage, instead of losing it, and blend the old with the new."

Lorin agrees, adding the renovation project gave the kitchen a fresh look with a nod to classic styling. "The Craftsman or Mission style with its simple lines is a great look in a small room," he says. "When you add a lot of clutter, it can make a room feel small and it's not appealing to the eye. These cabinets with the glass doors and lights at the top really give a nice effect that feels bigger than it really is. Plus you get great storage and display areas for a beautiful effect at night."

Faith was delighted to unveil the new and improved kitchen to family and friends at Christmas time. She continues to rave about her reno team. "I think our contractor was the bridge who helped us see that there was light at the end of the tunnel," says Faith. "It was such a collaborative process and I feel like I really had a hand in designing the room's final look. It's simplistic and stylish, without being over the top. I just love everything about it."

Written by Kristin Harold

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