Kitchen Reno’s 101

So you’re planning a new kitchen, the single most important room in any home. The task will be exciting and daunting at the same time. The process can be overwhelming, but so rewarding when you get the kitchen of your dreams. Here is the clincher… can be expensive, especially when you make costly mistakes. Here are a few ideas and options for you to consider when making the leap into the unknown.


Option 1: Complete Kitchen Renovation

This will be the most expensive option of all, but oh so satisfying when it is completed. Depending on the scale of the renovation, you may be removing/adding walls, adding windows, tearing up old flooring, and installing new. Demolition of old cabinetry, counter tops, and backsplash to make way for new. You will need professional help from an Interior Designer, Decorator or Kitchen Designer to help you with the layout of the space. You will have electrical and plumbing to do and measurements of surfaces to take. You will need to choose such things as paint/wallpaper for the walls, counter tops, backsplash, flooring, sinks, faucets, lighting and fixtures, window treatments, appliances ,if buying new, and cabinetry with hardware

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Kitchen After
Sonya Kinkade Design
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography


Option 2: Kitchen Reno without Custom Cabinetry

A less expensive option than #1, but it will give you the polished look you may be after. By using store bought cabinetry you have fewer options than custom, but when dressed up with custom detailing it can fool the eye into thinking you have spent a fortune. Make sure you choose your finishes wisely, and put your money where it counts on such things as countertops and the backsplash.

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography

Sonya Kinkade Design
Martha Stewart Cabinets/ Home Depot
Photo Credit Jessica Deeks Photography



Option 3: Kitchen Facelift

This option will give you the best bang for your buck. You will keep the footprint of your kitchen the same. There will be no removing of walls or windows. You will keep your existing cabinetry and have it sprayed in an updated paint lacquer color of your choice. If the doors on your current cabinetry are dated and you do not care for them , that’s Ok. You can order new doors to be made and have them finished to replace the old. Add new hardware to the doors for the jewellery of the space. You then should change your counter top and add an updated backsplash. This will bring high impact into a dated kitchen. New sinks and faucets can be added, but are not necessary if the ones you have are in good shape. Adding new and updated lighting fixture will beef up the WOW factor.



Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade

Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade

Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade

Sonya Kinkade Design
Door Fronts/ Ottawa Valley Kitchens
Photo Credit Sonya Kinkade



Options 2 & 3 can all be done with the help of your local IKEA or Home Depot Stores. They both have cabinetry options, hardware, counter top options, back splash, flooring, appliances, sinks, faucets, and lighting. You can get paint and accessories there too. It’s  a one stop shop for your Kitchen renovating needs.

With all of this, no matter what option you choose,  hiring an Interior Designer or Decorator can help with all aspects of the renovation. They will help to ensure the design process is a success with careful construction management. They will make sure the technical drawings and material specifications are carried out as intended. They will manage the project during the building process, and will monitor it on-site while the various trades complete their work. By having a designer manage the daunting process of a renovation and construction, it will make the transition a much easier experience. They will ensure all work is done properly, by managing the construction and installation process.

If you do not need the full service of an Interior Designer or Decorator, they can also simply assist you with sourcing and product choices. This will keep you from making costly mistakes in the end. My favorite motto “Do it right the first time”!

I hope with this information you can enter your journey into your kitchen renovation with confidence, and be assured there is a gorgeous new kitchen in your future. It will be the kitchen of your dreams and will be charming and welcoming every time you enter it. Getting there will not be easy but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.



Maureen says: ” Any of the three options Sonya mentioned above can be the perfect solution for specific budgets. Always take the time to do the job right once…do not waste time and money trying to do it right twice.”


Mary Anne says:“Great overview Sonya. Renovating a kitchen can be a daunting task and paying for professional advice is like insurance to make sure you don’t make expensive mistakes.”

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Inspire Me Heather - September 7, 2013 - 9:08 am

Wow, those kitchen makeovers look gorgeous!!

mara - September 7, 2013 - 4:41 pm

I need a kitchen facelift. My layout is just fine. But, these kitchens are all droolworthy.

Dining al Fresco in Ottawa

I don’t know about you, but there is something special, about dining outside and if you attach the words ‘al fresco’ to the activity, it becomes almost romantic.  Let us not confuse having a picnic with dining al fresco.  In my experience, having a picnic always encourages yellow jackets and pesky flies to land on your food, not to mention an entire ant hill population showing up as though they have received a personal invitation to join you.

Dining al fresco, which also involves consuming food outside, is much more sophisticated.  Of course dining al fresco is not necessarily about the food, drink and others sharing your table.  It is about the atmosphere … normal street activities, folks walking by, the non AC’d environment, perhaps the cacophony of any or all outside noises.  Sometimes dining al fresco can be a quiet, private affair.  Other times your dining table might be up against a bustling city sidewalk, in the town square, by the ocean, high in the mountain top clouds.  OYE!…I’m getting away with myself, but only because I have been very fortunate to dine al fresco in Paris, Rome, Greece, Spain, Portugal and NYC.  Those dining al fresco occasions elicited ‘pinch me’ cries of delight.

Perhaps those far away dining experiences have encouraged me to explore dining patios closer to home.  The three local Ottawa patios I’ve written about below, are all very different in atmosphere and menu selection, but equally enjoyable for al fresco dining.

One of my favourite local restaurants to dine al fresco is le café overlooking a small portion of the Rideau Canal, a historical landmark in Ottawa.  Not only does the menu boast ‘Canadian classic cuisine’ made with fresh, seasonal ingredients but the view is spectacular.  We dined on the patio with out of town visitors who were completely enamoured with their meal and the view.  There is something enchanting about enjoying a meal while watching gleaming yachts sail past.  If you are a native Ottawan or a visitor to Ottawa in the summer, I highly recommend dining at le café on the patio.

The TBBs recently dined in The Byward Market at The Black Thorn  in downtown Ottawa.  Another restaurant whose menu is derived from locally sourced ingredients, The Black Thorn has two al fresco dining areas, one facing the street, which is enjoyable if you are interested in the sights and sounds of The Market, while the other is situated in the courtyard at the back of the restaurant which was unfortunately under construction when we dined there.  One of the reasons the TBBs chose to dine at The Black Thorn, was because of their famous gourmet pizza and the pleasure of choosing from an extensive wine and draft selection.

You like Italian food and dining al fresco?  Little Italy is where you want to dine.  There are several restaurants in Little Italy that have patios.  Ciccio, has been located at 330 Preston for over 40 years.  Having just gone through a renovation, they pride themselves on being ‘the best and well known Italian Restaurant in Ottawa’.  In fact we enjoyed a fabulous bottle of Amarone there, which I raved about on the TBB Friday Night Wine Pick.   The hustle and bustle in the heart of Little Italy was quite evident on a recent Friday night when we dined al fresco at Ciccio.  We met several people we knew, while enjoying our meal next to the sidewalk.

Remember, dining al fresco means immersing yourself in the culture of the area you are dining in.

Enjoy more dining al fresco restaurants in Ottawa 


Donna says: “I love al fresco dining and these are wonderful options Maureen!  We also spend many summer evenings dining al fresco on our outdoor patio at home, which allows us to make the most of our short summers here in Ottawa.”

Mmmmm al fresco……makes me think of a light breeze in my hair, the smell of crisp fresh wine…..and a gorgeous man running his fingers through my hair….Oh sorry, what were we talking about?


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Inspire Me Heather - August 13, 2013 - 8:19 am

I love eating outdoors too, you really get a taste of your surroundings!

Dani @ lifeovereasy - August 14, 2013 - 2:15 am

The words “al fresco” make everything sound more delicious!

Tia - August 16, 2013 - 10:39 pm

It’s not fancy, but you can get beer and wine (and pub-type foods) right on the Ottawa river at the Rockcliffe boat house. You have to take a very steep hill down to the water, but it’s a great place to have an outdoor drink (especially while fireworks are going off at the Casino). Definitely miss Preston street now that I don’t live in Ottawa anymore.

Anne@DesignDreams - August 17, 2013 - 9:04 am

Looks like a fabulous place to eat.

Raspberry Lychee Sorbet with Champagne


I came across this little gem while surfing the web recently. This blog called Gourmande in the Kitchen authored by Sylvie Shirazi photographer and food lover is filled with mouth watering recipies and an incredible amount of  EYE CANDY photography. What caught my eye originally is this Summer Cocktail that is dessert that doubles as a cocktail…SECONDS PLEASE!!

RECIPE: Raspberry Lychee Sorbet with Champagne (Champagne Floats)


  • 1 ½ cups/280g frozen raspberries
  • 1 can (20 oz/565g) can of lychees packed in their own juices
  • A few drops of rosewater


  1. Purée the raspberries with the lychees and their juices in a high speed blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Scrape the purée through a fine sieve into a bowl; pressing to discard the seeds.
  3. Stir a couple drops of rosewater into the raspberry/lychee purée and pour into ice cream maker.
  4. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions until set, about 25-30 minutes.
  5. Transfer the sorbet to a plastic container and freeze until completely set and firm, about 1 hour.
  6. To make the floats: Place a small scoop of the sorbet into a glass.
  7. Slowly pour the Champagne over the sorbet. Garnish each glass with fresh raspberries, if desired.
  8. Serve immediately.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegan, Vegetarian

Diet tags: Gluten free, Dairy-free


sonya thumbnail




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Every Colour Under the Rainbow…How to choose?

Recently, The TBBs were asked a question from a follower regarding her difficulty between choosing one of two colours that she liked.   Of course we answered her question, but it occurred to me, that this is a common dilemma for many people.  Choosing paint colours for your home should be an easy task, but there are many variables that can alter the colours you are looking at.

  1. The lighting in the room
  2. The other colours in the room
  3. Undertones of the colours in the room vs the colour you are choosing

I could give you a very scientific colour lesson, but this would be an infinitesimal task which would not only put me to sleep, but you as well.

How fortunate that I was able to snap a shot of this rainbow (complete with second one beside it) the day I was composing this post!

In design and decor there is really only one element, COLOUR, that has science attached to it.  We all know that colour is light, colour  has spectrums, prisms, refractions ….. yada yada yada.  However, all the other elements such as scale/ proportion, texture, rhythm etc. are very subjective and are chosen emotionally.  Proof of this …. 10 different designers will never have the same concept for a space.  Although colour theory has it’s origins in science , colour selection is primordial … an emotional task.  We choose colour on the basis of  ‘it’s my favourite colour’, ‘it goes with my duvet,’ ‘I saw it in a magazine’, ‘it’s totally on trend’ …..  But when it comes to choosing the perfect wall colour, and there are a BAZILLION different colours on thousands of different paint company fan decks, you can quickly spiral down into the colour choice abyss.  I have seen this happen many times, and I therefore urge you to limit the number of fan decks and paint samples at your disposal.


  1. The lighting in your room will affect the colour you are looking at.  Natural light, general overhead lighting, and time of day must be considered when choosing a room colour.
  2. It is ALWAYS wise to choose the wall colour AFTER you have chosen the fabrics, textures and finishes in the room.  Remember, there are a BAZILLION paint colours to choose from, but far fewer window treatment, upholstery fabrics and rug colours to choose from.  Pick these items first, then choose your wall colour to coordinate.
  3. How to determine undertones…scary business.  Very simply, choose two colours from a fan deck with similar value  (light /dark) … hold them next to each other and compare the undertone … ie: pink, yellow, green … they may be difficult to distinguish, but comparing to other similar colours should make it easier.  I would venture to say that more incorrect wall colours are chosen due to incorrect undertones.  If your sofa has a yellow undertone, you will not like the wall colour with the pink undertone … guaranteed.  Often homeowners know that something isn’t working in their room.  They love the sofa, coffee table, artwork etc, but something is off.  It is usually the wall colour with an offensive undertone.

FREE TIPS (because we love you)

  1. When looking or comparing paint chips, always look at them vertically as if on the wall.  Do not look down onto the chips, unless you are painting your floor …. that would require an entirely different blog post.
  2. Always look at your chosen paint chips against a white background.  Placing them directly against a wall colour will completely change your perception of the intended colour on the paint chip.
  3. Place several paint chips (on white backgrounds) around the room being painted.  You will be able to determine how the various light sources affect the colour throughout the day.
  4. Don’t go all TRENDY on us.  Choose colours that you relate to.  Trends die quickly, but if you truly love a colour today, you will likely  love it beyond tomorrow too.
  5. If in any doubt … hire a professional decorator who will give you honest and expert advice.  That is what we are paid to do.

Maureen thumbnail Maureen


Donna says “These are great tips Maureen!  And once you pick up on how to recognize colour undertones, you’ll be seeing them everywhere.”


Mary Anne says “Great summary Maureen! These are tips that cannot be repeated often enough. Even though they seem like common sense, they are crucial to getting those colours right. Who wants to paint a room four times?”


 Lisa says: “Great post Maureen and so true if the undertone is wrong, it will feel wrong.”

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[...] miss these great tips on choosing paint colours from the [...]

Audrey - September 2, 2013 - 10:10 am

Thank you for posting this! I will definitely keep this in mind when the time will come to paint! :)

Maureen - September 2, 2013 - 10:29 am

thank you for popping by Audrey. I tseems like a simple task, but choosing colour can certainly bog people down.

mara - September 2, 2013 - 5:47 pm

These are really great tips for choosing paint. I’m pretty good at it, but I think now I’ll be even better.

Jen @ Go Green - September 2, 2013 - 9:12 pm

When we were picking the colour for the main part of our house I got a whole bunch of paint chips and put them up in different parts of the rooms and then went and looked at them throughout the week, all at different times. I put a check mark on the paint chip if I liked how it looked at that time of day. The one with the most check marks won.

Terri - September 2, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Awesome Tips :) I have plans to paint my house thru soon so this will be a big help

Dani @ lifeovereasy - September 3, 2013 - 2:02 pm

great tips, thanks!

Maureen - September 3, 2013 - 2:21 pm

please let us know Mara if these tips were usefule for you.

Maureen - September 3, 2013 - 2:24 pm

you were smart to do that Jen. It is amazing how different light sources and intensities can affect colour.

Maureen - September 3, 2013 - 2:25 pm

Good to know Terri. Thank you for the comment.

Maureen - September 3, 2013 - 2:26 pm

Thank You Dani. Choosing colour correctly can be a challenge for some people.

Bronwyn MayB - September 3, 2013 - 2:54 pm

That is such good information. I picked a paint colour I thought I was going to love, but it looked like a tomato in the sunlight. I had wanted something more wine coloured! Thanks for the tips!!

Carol@TheBrightBoxBlog - September 3, 2013 - 4:42 pm

Great, great advice Maureen. Being able to accurately detect undertones will change your life. Your tips are super helpful:)

Mama and the City - September 3, 2013 - 4:54 pm

Seems easy but it’s a hard task.

When we got our place I got sample palates from Home Depot and test them against the light in each room.

Then, from the choice, I bought small samples to confirm the look n feel. Best choice made ever.

I have been happy with those colors at my home.

Inspire Me Heather - September 4, 2013 - 7:49 am

Great post – thanks for the tips on choosing colour!

Karen@NourishWithKaren - September 4, 2013 - 1:02 pm

Great tips, maybe I will get hubby to give them a read… we often have a difference in opinion when it comes to colour choice! Thanks for sharing

Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy - September 4, 2013 - 5:37 pm

Great tips! Wish I would have thought about the different undertone/lighting thing before I picked my room colour. It’s just a smidge too blue & I wish it were more green — but on cloudy days and at night it looks perfect. Haha. I still love it!

Lauren @ WallpaperUpdate - September 5, 2013 - 2:30 pm


The second tip you mentioned was extremely dead on! You need to pick out your room decor (fabrics, furniture, etc) before you think about your wall decor. Its a headache to pick out your wallpaper or paint, use it on the wall and then be obligated to match every decor item you buy in the future with it.

Heather - September 6, 2013 - 4:07 pm

Great tips! I never remember to look at a chip on a white background. I need to remember this!

Laurie @ Vin'yet Etc. - September 7, 2013 - 8:47 am

Hi Maureen,
Awesome tips… the dreaded undertone, should be evil music playing when one says that! ;)

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:00 pm

HA Laurie…I agree. undertones can really bog down the choosing paint colour process.

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:02 pm

you will remember Heather once you realize how different the paint chip looks on a wall colour vs a white background. Good Luck!

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Lauren, If I had a nickle for eveytime I have had to convince a client to choose window treatment fabric, or rug or furniture before pickong a wall colour….well… The only time you might not be able to do this is for a new build, in which case you often have to repaint after 2 years anyway.

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:08 pm

If you love your room colour Janelle, I would not think to change it. But I believe you already understand what my tips are about from your comment. There’s always the next room to be painted.

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:10 pm

Good luck Karen with painting with your hubby. But I would avoid wallpering with your hubby…any hubby… at all costs!!

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:10 pm

thank you for the comment Heather

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:12 pm

Sounds like you did a great job in picking your paint Mama and the City… I also recommend either the large paint squares or the sample pots…a few dollars that can save big mistakes.

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:14 pm

thank you Carol….this seems to be a common problem. Glad I could help.

Maureen - September 7, 2013 - 2:15 pm

Yeah Bronwyn…you now know exactly what I’m talking about. Thank you for leaving a comment.

The Best Salsa Ever….Period!


I recently had an overabundance of fresh tomatoes from my cottage neighbours garden (thank you Don) that needed to be used up quickly. This salsa uses a mix of canned and fresh tomatoes so it can be made all year round, but it is soooo much better with local tomatoes. I am told that it is just like the salsa of a well known Tex-Mex chain that started in Ottawa with its’ famous fajitas. You know the one that puts a bowl of hot tortilla chips and homemade salsa in front of you as soon as you take a seat!



1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup chopped red onion

1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1 small can tomato paste

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro

4 large fresh tomatoes, diced

1 fresh jalapeño, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 tsp. salt

Hand chop veggies and then pulse in food processor. This keeps for 5 days in the fridge (if it lasts that long)! Enjoy!

Mary Anne

Nicole says: “Mmm…this looks tempting.  We had a really hard time finding store bought salsa without sugar in it when my daughter was on the candida diet.  Nice to see that it is not in the ingredient list.  I think this is a must try!”

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Dannyelle @ - September 23, 2013 - 12:19 pm

This looks delicious! Now…if only we had the fijita recipe. ;) Thanks for sharing.

Tiffany @ MyDirt - September 23, 2013 - 1:37 pm

I could live on salsa. I love new recipes.

Heather - September 24, 2013 - 9:48 am

Mmmm – I can’t wait to make this recipe with the fresh tomatoes from my garden! Thanks for sharing this yumminess!

Sheila @sZinteriors - September 24, 2013 - 10:49 am

This is a keeper! Friday nights are nacho nights in this household, and we make our own guacamole, but have yet to make our own salsa. This recipe look like the right mix of everything we love! Thanks for sharing – can’t wait to give it a try!! :-)

mara - September 24, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Yummy. I love salsa, and I’ve been meaning to make homemade.

Terri - September 25, 2013 - 9:07 pm

thanks for sharing, it looks delicious

Inspire Me Heather - September 26, 2013 - 7:32 am

I love a good salsa recipe and yours looks great! I always add cilantro to mine too, most people like it and then some don’t. I do!!!

Tanya@TakeSix - September 26, 2013 - 10:07 am

Delicious!!! I made my own this year, and have some more tomatoes waiting to do another batch. It is the best!! :)

MaryAnne - October 6, 2013 - 9:23 pm

My fajita recipe is on the blog too, back at the beginning of the summer. Just search the recipe section Dannyelle.

MaryAnne - October 6, 2013 - 9:23 pm

Let us know how you like it Heather!

MaryAnne - October 6, 2013 - 9:24 pm

I hope you have had a chance to try the salsa recipe Sheila and found it as great as I claim!

MaryAnne - October 6, 2013 - 9:25 pm

Let us know if you try it and how you like it Mara!

MaryAnne - October 6, 2013 - 9:26 pm

Its not a lot of cilantro, so doesn’t turn off the non-cilantro likers:)

MaryAnne - October 6, 2013 - 9:26 pm

Glad you liked it Tanya, and it is so easy too!

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