When the downtown condo they had rented for years was unexpectedly put on the market and quickly sold, a young Ottawa couple had a big decision to make. Rent another condo to continue their carefree, urban lifestyle or leap into home ownership?
Newlyweds Jordan Vig and Jessica Whiting were keen to buy, but the timing was not great for first-time buyers. It was a hot seller’s market late last year with low inventory. After searching frantically for centrally-located homes in their price range, along came a little red-brick bungalow from the 1950s in the trending north Alta Vista area. Just days after viewing it, their offer was accepted in a competitive bidding process. They were ec-static!
“I liked the idea of a bungalow with a spacious main level and basement—plus a big back yard,” says Jordan who also valued the established neighbourhood which is close to his gym and many other conveniences at Train Yards. “We knew we were getting in pretty deep with all the reno-vation work it needed, but the house had so much potential to grow with us and be our home for years to come.”
Jessica was excited by the opportunity to transform an outdated home that had not changed much in over 60 years and says, “It seemed the best of both worlds to blend the charm of an older home with modern design.” She credits their realtor, Sarah Wright, for managing their expectations in a difficult market and connecting them with local trade professionals.
With absolutely no previous home-improvement experience, the couple definitely fall into the “more handsome than handy” category. Yet, they were fearlessly ambitious in their vision and amazingly resourceful on a cost-conscious budget. A policy advisor with Environment Canada, Jordan put his research skills to work to source products and services, while Jessica, a commercial real estate advisor with Colliers International, contribut-ed her strong sense of style and understanding of the use of space. Together, they managed to put their own ideas into action to incorporate both of their design tastes.
FEARLESS FIRST-TIME RENOVATORS
Their first priority was gutting the post-war era kitchen and knocking down walls to create an open-concept space to flow into the dining room and living area. They hired Rene Page of Capital Home Building for his remodelling expertise to do most of the kitchen work.
Jessica was committed to a bold and modern kitchen design. “In my job, I am constantly touring office spaces and I love the industrial feel of clean lines and a minimalist look,” she explains. “We went with matte-black, flat-fronted custom cabinets from Harpstone in Kemptville, adding two inches in height to accommodate Jordan’s six-foot-eight-inch frame.”
Euro Tile & Stone installed the raw concrete-looking quartz for the countertops and waterfall peninsula, as well as supplying the oversized Italian porcelain floor tiles and the stunning marble-styled backsplash. “Erika Gagne at Euro Tile was a wonderful help in bringing our design vision to life,” notes Jessica.
Jordan worked with The WoodSource to create a custom beautiful 72 3 16 inch bar counter in rich walnut to connect the kitchen to the dining area, and boost the entertaining factor. The warm tones of natural walnut are repeated in floating shelf accents in the kitchen, adding a contrasting rustic vibe to the modern design. He was also responsible for scoring all the KitchenAid appliances from The Brick on Black Friday, and choosing a downdraft oven to avoid a range hood obstructing his view. Yes, Jordan is the cook!
Many products were bought online. “I found a much greater selection of high-quality fixtures online at Lowes, like the matte-black kitchen faucet by Vigo which was not available in their store,” explains Jordan.
Moving from a one-bedroom condo to a three-bedroom single home demands shopping for more furnishings. Jessica and Jordan loved adding new dining chairs from Artemano to their glass dining table, and spicing it up with a black Etta pendant light from Mobilia. A mid-century, grey-tufted sofa from Article (another online site) now sits proudly in the living room, along with finishing touches from LD Shoppe.
Eager to earn their “handy” badges, the couple did all their own painting—going with a monochromatic look of white-on-white in all rooms. While Jessica admits that decor is her preferred sphere, Jordan is currently taking it to another level by working alongside his reno-experienced father (a retired fire chief) to expand and fully renovate the main bathroom. In the process, he is learning the true meaning of “labour of love!”
With many more renovation projects to complete, the happy first-time home owners are embracing the challenge of building the next stage of their lives together.