As a professional interior designer for over 36 years, Jan Stevens Design, I find myself dealing with a very familiar client…ME!!! While at the same time we are renovating our new vacation rental kitchen for the 100’s of future guests that will come to relax and enjoy our waterfront home. We need to make a lot of people happy……that is a challenging task.  

I have learned that successful design solutions need to satisfy the desires of the client: Comfort, color, organization, traffic flow, conveniences, quality, and yes, budget as well. Asking the client questions is the best way to understand their needs leading to the client feeling satisfied that money was well spent. 

Considering the 100’s of clients / guests and ALL those un-ending opinions this job needs to be filtered through someone that will attempt to understand EVERYONE‘S NEEDS……….YEP, in this case…….that is me!!
Our current 37 year old kitchen from 1978
The new kitchen layout is open to the view with more counter tops for preparing meals.

So what are OUR needs?
·        Timeless in design
·        More counter space
·        No more corner cabinetry
·        More generous traffic flow pattern (a 2 foot pass through is too tight)
·        Maintain our family dining area
·        Easy to clean
·        Simple to operate, uncomplicated appliances
·        Durability
·        Maximize every inch of space with a place for EVERYTHING including the trash, small appliances, and wine bottles (of course).
·        Fits the expense budget
·        Appropriate quality for our 1978 Lindell waterfront home built on a million dollar lot
·        Attractive and appealing to all those that LOVE a good kitchen
·        Maintain the charm, character, and patina of our old cottage while adding modern conveniences

Our waterfront property was purchased in 1954 for $1200 and today the property value, if we were to sell, would be well over a million dollars. No, we are not going to sell but taking this information into consideration helped us develop our budget. Stock cabinets from Home Depot were not going to fit the value of this home but neither would 100% custom cabinetry be affordable. We needed a compromise.

We also took a look at our rustic, well aged, loads of patina, 36 year old beach house. What quality of cabinetry would be appropriate?  IKEA kitchens are functional, with various quality options (good better and best) and they have the best soft close drawer glides on the market. Hey that would be an improvement to have quiet kitchen cabinetry!! BUT lo……… IKEA could not satisfy me with the to-the-inch space planning that I required. Sure, I LOVED the price but, it was not going to meet the need to maximize and utilize every inch of limited space available. 

Finally, we chose semi-custom cabinetry……..With the strong recommendation from Allan Peters, my architect, we chose Silverdale Hill Design to measure, manufacture and install our semi custom kitchen.  They listened intently to my organization needs, my need to maximize counter and storage space, plus wouldn't my guests love a beverage center for coffee, tea and wine?  Chuck and Susan made the trip to Bowen and took detailed measurements of the available space. We chose a simple Shaker style door profile that would blend with the existing traditional / eclectic
Shaker panels for transitional styling
collection of furnishings; the door style will be easily cleaned, and not break the budget.  The main cabinetry would be soft white to brighten and reflect the light coming in from the sea view windows.  Although the 10 foot long island with counter seating for 4 guests will contrast the soft white cabinetry with a rich brown stain to relate back to all the vintage furnishings in our vacation rental home.  

timeless bronze pulls
One of my goals is to create a classic transitional style kitchen that will last another 38 years, nothing that screams, “2014!” Even the knobs from Richelieu are a classic bronze finish, the egg shape will be easy to clean, and they won’t poke a hole in your hip if you bump ‘em. Mostly, the style and the finishes relate back to the interior elements existing in the house tying all finishes back together and hopefully will age
kindly over the next 30 years.

Our property is on an island, down a 4 wheel drive road, and located 1400 miles from me as I type this blog. I mention this as this makes getting it right the first time of utmost importance. Our renovation window is tight and there will be no time for errors. We chose Chuck and Susan because they are taking full responsibility for the construction and installation of the new kitchen; a task that I have turned over to the experts, Silverdale Hill Cabinetry, leaving me to
take care of my guests.

Now, what to do about the counter tops? Durability and clean-ability is a must!! Our current 36 year old laminate counter tops are starting to lift and bulge at the seams from water damage.  And can you believe it, but a guest put a hot pan down on the laminate counter and melted the surface? Who would do that sort of thing? Answer…Maybe a guest that was having lots of fun and lots of wine? We certainly don’t want to limit the fun factor so a counter surface where guests can make some mistakes and we won’t notice is a GREAT idea.

Many have been recommending man-made quartz counters such as Silestone. It certainly does have the qualities that would be perfect for our kitchen: easy care, durable, scratch resistant, heat resistant, etc. Quartz counters have so many patterns to chose from and solve many of the challenges that need to be met in a vacation rental but they are at the high end of the price scale for good reason.

Iced Brown granite counters
Believe it or not……..Granite is less expensive than quartz counters and I LOVE GRANITE!!! It’s natural with a very large pattern repeat.  Yes, it does need to be sealed and in the vacation rental kitchen, probably once a year.  We will put that task on our maintenance list and seal it once a year to keep up with the fun and frolicking guests. Our vacationing guests can’t melt it, can’t burn it, and the Ice Brown that we have selected is the perfect balance of cream, white, and brown……..camouflage for potential future stains. Initially I had chosen the ogee-to-flat polished edge but decided to change it to an eased edge…….for a savings of $1000. We believe that the granite will be practical, have a rich look and meet our budget needs as well for the long term.

Shopping for appliances required hours of research at the computer. With the “pre-search” complete it was time to make the trip into the Sears appliance department to really get a feel for what will work in our vacation rental. Sears carries a wide variety of appliances as you all know. Plus buying the Kenmore name is a budget savor and yet Kenmore is made by the major manufacturers: dishwashers are Bosch, refrigerators are Samsung, and ovens made by Electrolux. My salesman was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and after 2 hours or more he was pretty excited about the opportunity to sell me all new appliances.  Although, I wasn’t SOLD: the oven had a metal lip where food, grease, and dirt could collect and the counter depth refrigerator was WAY TOO SMALL.  I exited Sears with all my new appliance knowledge with a “I will need to study this.”

Moving on down the road I stopped at Colony Warehouse Appliance in West Vancouver where I met Vicki. Her goal was to satisfy me and my guests with a realistic budget, simple operating instructions, durability, clean-ability, and reliable products!!! Most important, could the appliances be serviced by our one-and-only appliance repairman on Bowen Island? This eliminated all LG appliances as they consider Bowen to be a remote location and not covered under their typical warranty.  ON NO……….It is not an option to load up an LG refrigerator, haul it up our 4 wheel drive road, drive it onto the ferry and deliver it to an appliance repair shop in Vancouver for the next couple of weeks. Bowen Island Appliance Repair needs to be able to service all appliances in a VERY timely manner.

I LOVE a salesperson that listens and satisfies my every need!! Vicki sourced and recommended the appliances and of course I purchased all of them from her. I think I spent a bit more than I might have at Sears but I know that my goals were achieved with the help of an appliance expert that was also an excellent listener.
Whirlpool Convection with a steam clean feature

The new wall oven is a convection oven from Whirlpool. Anna, my star cleaner, will LOVE the steam oven cleaning option. And I will appreciate that the steam clean and convection are both energy saving features.[WOS92EC0AS]-1020952/WOS92EC0AS/  Not to mention that convection is by far a more superior baking method over my gas oven at home. Who doesn't love an evenly golden brown roasted turkey? 

We wondered if our guests would find a double oven useful. Nah!!! Who wants to cook that much on vacation? But just in case, we chose the Samsung convection – microwave oven with a trim kit and will build it into the cabinetry. That “coffee warmer” will have more purpose and no longer steal our precious counter space.  For the ultimate in convenience it will be located right next to our new coffee / wine station……of course!  

The cook top from AEG is reliable, affordable and the glass top is protected with a stainless edge so it can’t be chipped. “VERY smart thinking,” I say to Vicki.  Come to think of it, I may have created a deep cleaning issue along that stainless steel edge…..but hey, the top edges won’t chip. I love all the burner size options and the fact that there are no knobs to clean.

For the vent hood, once again, we consulted with my star cleaner, Anna ………..would a glass hood be easy to clean? With her blessing we ordered the AEG island hood as it would be functional and yet it would not visually distract from the gorgeous waterfront view.

The new stainless refrigerator required major research to make me happy: it needed an ice maker, no in-door water dispenser, high storage capacity and only 30” wide. When we arrive on Bowen we come with 3 weeks of produce and groceries. Hey, I am Island bound out of choice. No longer was the counter depth refrigerator an option…….not enough cubic feet of storage for my needs.  But hey, what about that new Samsung French door fridge with the freezer / fridge compartment? That would be perfect but the $4000 price tag was less than ideal. Other French door fridges were too wide (36” or more), in-door water dispensers stole premium storage space not to mention another moving part that could
potentially break, and space was at a premium.  I learned that a 30” wide fridge really needs 33” on the sides and depending on the cooling coils 1 -3” on the top.  For every inch of width I added to the fridge I lost another inch or two of counter and storage space…… breaker!! To get the storage capacity I opted for the full depth refrigerator, 30” wide with an automatic ice maker in the freezer. Simple!! Filtered drinking water would be found in a spicket on the kitchen sink…that works.  To make the Whirlpool choice even more attractive there was a rebate, and who doesn’t love a rebate on the perfect refrigerator for the right price?[WRB322DMBM]-1022066/WRB322DMBM/

The Bosch brand dishwasher is the quietest on the market: reliable, water efficient, and quiet.  Our GREAT ROOM open floor plan requires a dishwasher that is quiet for our guest’s sake. When the sun goes down on Bowen there is no traffic noise or white noise to drown out the swooshing of a dishwasher. Shhhhhh…….the Petite Suite guests are sleeping in the suite down stairs. Quiet was a must! Hey, the fact that we are finally adding a dishwasher that is not manual, as in YOU and ME……is a fantastic new amenity that my guests and I will love.  

Demolition of the old kitchen begins October 14, 2014. We are so excited and anxious at the same time. Have we made the right decision to renovate the 37 year old kitchen? Will we be able to maintain the charm of the cabin?  Will our guests appreciate the modern conveniences? We, “I” am hoping the answer is “yes” to all the questions. At the very least, we know for sure that we will enjoy the new layout and the new appliances. I sincerely hope that I have accurately tuned into the needs of our past and future guests. We will know the results soon……..stay tuned for the reveal at the end of December 2014.  You all can let me know if it works…..or not.   
The future kitchen layout to be completed by December 2014