Category: Design

The Perfect Spacing for your Kitchen

Renovating your kitchen is an exciting endeavour.  This is your opportunity to design a space that best works for your family and your lifestyle.  In many cases, you may want to change the footprint of your kitchen, especially if removing a wall or if the current layout is not functional for you.

When changing the footprint we need to be very aware of distances and spacing.  The Ontario Building Code requires a minimum distance of 30” between fixed objects.  While this fine for a doorway, it’s too tight between countertops.  You need room to bend down and empty the dishwasher.

The ideal space between your island and the perimeter of your kitchen is 42”.  This magic measurement means that your countertops are only a step and a turn away.  You don’t want multiple steps between your work spaces as it creates more work and is less efficient.  42” is perfect to stand working at your island and for someone to be able to pass easily behind you.

The back of your island wants more space, especially if you have seating.  I find that anything larger than 48” is enough room for people to sit comfortably and other people to be able to pass behind them.  If you have more space than that, even better.  You don’t want to end up feeling crowded.


If you have the opportunity to improve the footprint of your kitchen, go for it!  A kitchen is a big and permanent project so make sure you get what you want!

How to Prepare Before Meeting With Your Kitchen Designer

You’ve booked an appointment with your kitchen designer and are excited to begin. But before you meet, there are a few things to consider so you’re ready to answer your designer’s top questions and make the most of your time together. Your answers will help shape the design and construction plan of your new kitchen. Your preferences will help your designer create the best possible design for you and your home.

Know the 'why' behind your project.

Are you looking to renovate your kitchen for better function, to finally achieve your dream of having a full “chef’s kitchen” or are you hoping to improve your home’s value? Knowing why you’re investing in your kitchen will help your designer understand how best to meet your needs.

Have a rough idea of your budget.

The cost of renovating a kitchen can vary widely. If there is no limit on cost, then dream away! However, if you’re like most, you’ll have an approximate budget in mind. By understanding your budget, your designer can steer you toward choices that fit your priorities while keeping costs in check.

Think about what isn’t working in your space.

Grab a pen and paper and walk around your kitchen. Do you remember a time when you wanted to change something? Does the natural path from the fridge to your usual prep space have any obstacles? Have you bumped into corners while carrying items from one spot to another? Do you wish you had a place for everything you typically need to fix a meal? These are just a few of the things you need to share with your kitchen designer.

Have an idea of when you want the project to start.

If you’ve been thinking about renovating your kitchen for a while, you may be excited to get started but building a plan that works around other renovations and life events is an important consideration. Are you hoping to have a brand-new kitchen to show guests on a special occasion? Do you have a baby due, a wedding or a milestone birthday coming up? Be sure to let your designer know your ideal start date and about events that may affect the timing of your kitchen renovation.

Collect photos of spaces you’re attracted to.

Can you see yourself living in a French chateau, a mid-century modern bungalow, or a rustic cabin? Your designer should be creating a space to fit your style, not their own. Collect images of home interiors that please your senses and make you feel joy. Your designer can take inspiration from the images to ensure you get a kitchen style you love. Look for inspiration on websites such as Pinterest and Houzz, and in magazines.

Working with a designer is a collaborative process. Preparing for your first meeting together will help your designer create a kitchen that suits your needs, style, and budget!

Why You Shouldn't DIY Your Bathroom

As a homeowner, it can be tempting to tackle your own home improvement projects – but, your bathroom should not be one of them. There are many reasons:


Plumbing work is very precise. All joints must be completed properly for the materials used. If not correctly relocated or installed, your DIY plumbing job can cause leaking. If a leak goes unnoticed for any length of time, it can lead to rot and structural problems, as well as mold and health problems.


Handling your own electrical comes with its own risks. Not only do you need to make sure that everything is brought up to current electrical codes, but all electrical work needs to have permits and be inspected. If installed incorrectly you can end up causing faults, hurting yourself, or causing a home fire.

Bathroom Fan

Installing a bathroom fan seems like a simple task – and it can be, if you are replacing an existing fan. If you are installing a fan in a new location you need to run new ductwork, which includes cutting a hole in your roof. Not only does this become a dangerous task, but you run the risk of having water, wind and snow coming in that very same opening.


Do you know why it is expensive to hire a tile professional? BECAUSE IT’S HARD. To make sure you have all the tile level, plumb, aligned, and properly sloped is no joke. Consider all the experience an installer has so that they can plan the layout to avoid strange tiny pieces, or that one corner of a tile that sticks up and you catch your sock on it. Every. Single. Time.

Shower Glass

Installing glass in your shower is going to come with its own set of challenges. Glass is not very forgiving, so you’ve got one shot to get it snug and water-tight. Also, don’t forget that the panels are very large, extremely heavy and fragile. It only takes one slip up and your bathroom floor is covered in broken glass.

There is a time and place for a DIY project, but it’s not in your bathroom. It’s not worth risking your investment in this project (and your home) to save a few hundred dollars. Avoid making any of these mistakes by hiring a professional the first time around.

Learn Your Countertop Options - Part II

Wood/Butcher Block

Home Depot

Butcher block tops offer a warm, natural look and are available in a wide variety of species including oak, maple, cherry and beech.


  • DIY Installation
  • Relatively easy to clean
  • Can be sanded and resealed


  • Requires oiling to maintain
  • Mid range pricing
  • Can be scratched and damaged by water
  • Bacteria can be a problem if not maintained



Yes, you can have glass countertops! Often used as an accent as the colour, texture, and shape options are endless!


  • Unlimited design options
  • Low maintenance
  • Options for creative lighting


  • Expensive
  • Can chip or crack


The Concrete Network

Concrete countertops are an option if you’re looking for something truly unique and industrial. Be prepared – these are very heavy slabs!


  • Colour can be added with acid
  • Scratch and heat resistant


  • DIY not recommended
  • Very expensive
  • Porous surface
  • Cracking and crumbling can occur

Stainless Steel


Stainless Steel is a modern / industrial choice that could be the right choice for your space. You can have your sinks integrated into your countertop.


  • Impervious to heat
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Regarded as ‘luxurious’


  • Very expensive
  • Noisy
  • Easily scratched


The Spruce

Countertops made of soapstone have a beautiful soft, aged look. This material is often used in historic homes.


  • Rich colour
  • Heat resistant
  • Gets a “patina of age”


  • Must be professionally installed
  • Easily scratched and dented
  • Must be oiled regularly

Sintered Stone


This is the newest product on the scene. Brand names include Neolith, Dekton, and Geoluxe. Sintered stone is a man made product. They use 100% raw materials (no fillers or resins) that are compressed under massive pressure and heat to mimic what happens to create natural stones.


  • Indoor or outdoor use
  • Scratch and stain resistant
  • Heat and fire resistant
  • 5x stronger than granite


  • Edges can be susceptible to chipping
  • Must be professionally installed
  • Comparable in price to quartz
  • Pattern may only be on surface

Learn Your Countertop Options - Part I

When renovating your kitchen or bathroom you have many choices for new countertops.  I’ve chosen the 12 most popular options and will share the pros and cons to help you make your decision.  Here are the first 6 options.



Laminate countertops are often referred to as Formica, but there are other popular brands such as Wilsonart and Nevamar.  The most common type of laminate tops are called ‘Post-form counters’ which are a plastic laminated synthetics which is shaped and bonded to a particle board core. 


  • Easy to maintain
  • Low cost
  • Many designs available
  • DIY installation is possible


  • Visible seams
  • Not heat resistant
  • Can be considered too ‘cheap’
  • Scratches cannot be repaired



Tile countertops offer so much creativity for design and layout, or the selection to keep it simple as the photo above.


  • Easy to clean
  • Inexpensive
  • Possible to DIY
  • Unlimited design choices
  • Heat resistant


  • Grout can stain and be difficult to maintain
  • Tile can crack or break
  • Surface can end up uneven
  • Is not as valued as solid stone



Acrylic countertops (also referred to as solid surface) have been around for about 50 years. They are composed of acrylic and other resins that are pressed into sheets and other shapes. The most popular brands are Corian, Avonite and Swanstone.


  • Invisible seams
  • Easy to repair
  • Integrated sinks are available
  • Stain resistant
  • Many patterns possible


  • Easily scratched
  • Not heat resistant
  • Moderately expensive
  • Must be professionally installed



Granite slabs are slices of natural stone cut from the earth, so each piece is unique.  If you are looking to have a statement countertop, granite is an excellent choice.  As there are so many different designs, there is a broad range in price for granite slabs.


  • Heat resistant
  • Adds value to home
  • Very strong and durable
  • Thousands of natural designs


  • Requires sealing to resist staining
  • Professional installation only
  • More expensive
  • Can have natural imperfections


Aria Stone Gallery

Marble is a timeless and beautiful material and may be what you visualize when you picture a new kitchen or bathroom in your home.  But marble is not the easiest surface to live with.


  • Beautiful veining
  • Adds value to home
  • Heat resistant


  • Easily scratched
  • Easily stained
  • Expensive
  • Must be professionally installed



Quartz countertops are comprised of up to 93% natural stone, the remainder being the colouring and resins that are proprietary to each manufacturer.  Popular brands include Cambria, Caesarstone, Hanstone (Canadian), and Silestone.  Quartz bridges the gap between natural stones and consumer wishes – the look of natural stone without the natural imperfections.


  • Easy to maintain
  • Stain resistant
  • Adds value to home
  • Consistent and excellent patterning


  • Must be professionally installed
  • Expensive

Home Design Trends for 2020

It’s a brand-new decade.  It’s time to shake things up and refresh our ideals of home design and décor. Let’s stray from safe and inject some joy and playfulness again.  Welcome into 2020!


We’ve been stuck in the monochrome greys for a while and it’s time to inject some joy and personality again.  I’m seeing more earth tones to bring some warmth and softness, but also brights and warmer blues to add playfulness.  Let’s get off the greige train!

Mix & Match

Gone are the days where we went into a furniture store and selected a whole set.  We want our homes to reflect us, personalized and with meaning.  We want to add texture – some new glossy items alongside antiques that have a patina of age and possibly an interesting story.  We’re not chasing perfection; we want our home to have meaning to us.

Fun Bathrooms

Bathrooms are often one of the smallest rooms in your home, so they are a great place to try something a bold and express your personality.  Wallpaper can add something a wild, quirky or stunningly beautiful and turn a boring room into something you can really be proud of and enjoy.

Real Plants

Adding more real plants to your home not only softens and adds an organic element to your décor, there are real health benefits.  Indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (up to 15%!) and reduce stress levels.  That anthurium or pothos plant is not only improving your indoor air quality, but it’s improving your mood too.

Closed Cabinets

The idea of open shelves in the kitchen is fun but having all open cabinets can leave you wanting for storage.  Also, who can keep all the shelves clean and looking perfectly styled?  Let’s remember that this is a is a work room first, and make sure your kitchen suits the tasks that are going to happen there.  

One Colour Rooms with Character

No longer do your doors and millwork have to be in the standard white.  Let’s add some extra trim details – chair rail, wall trim, crown moulding and paint everything out in a lovely semi-gloss.  Don’t be afraid with your colour – the bold will be rewarded.

Intricate Backsplash

We’ve all loved subway tile for a while.  A very long while.  Now it’s time to choose a backsplash that really grabs you.  As it is the easiest part of a kitchen to change, why not choose something fabulous?

I’m looking forward to seeing all the personalization we’re going to bring into this new decade.