A kitchen for friends, cre­ated by friends


Jamie Po­holko and Louise Jes­sup were pretty ex­cited when they had the op­por­tu­nity to buy Jes­sup’s family home on Ly­dia Street from her mother, and they did ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions there. It was go­ing to be their for­ever home. But when a prop­erty came for sale just around the cor­ner on Pan­dora Cres­cent, Jes­sup couldn’t re­sist tak­ing a peek. And then she was smit­ten. The homes on this street al­most never come up for sale, and with their big­ger lawns and more square footage, Pan­dora might just be one of the most cov­eted streets in Kitch­ener. But the house, some 80 years old, had not kept up with the times. The pre­vi­ous owner bought the house in 1952 and lived in it for 50 years. “It was like open­ing the door to 1950,” says Po­holko, 36. The liv­ing room was large and there was a back room that had been used as a den. But the eat-in kitchen was small and cut off from the rest of the house. And the for­mal din­ing room was just not what the Jes­sup’s wanted. But at least the size of the house was ample for a family of four. Most of the orig­i­nal hard­wood floors could be sal­vaged. And the un­painted gum­wood trim that ran through­out the house was in good

con­di­tion. So ren­o­vat­ing this house was not as big a job as their pre­vi­ous home. “Here we could work within the con­fines of the house and not add to the foot­print,” Jes­sup says. “We didn’t want to do a big ren­o­va­tion again, like we did at Ly­dia.” Still, this ren­o­va­tion was big enough and the family owned two houses for a few months while Pan­dora was gut­ted, re­con­fig­ured and re­fin­ished. Steel beams were added in or­der to re­move walls. Win­dows became doors and doors became walls as the main floor was trans­formed. The main goal of the ren­o­va­tion was to open the wall be­tween the kitchen and din­ing room to cre­ate one big, open family room/kitchen. The ex­ist­ing liv­ing room was large enough to hold a seat­ing area in front of the fire­place as well as a proper din­ing room ta­ble for larger gath­er­ings. And the back den is now a play­room with clear views from the kitchen sink and is­land af­ter the ex­ist­ing open­ing was widened. They also changed a win­dow to a door for ac­cess to the back­yard from the kitchen.

Jes­sup, 40, says be­cause they had spent so much time sourc­ing ma­te­ri­als for the Ly­dia Street ren­o­va­tion, they de­cided to du­pli­cate those choices in the Pan­dora Cres­cent home. So the faucets, range hood and sinks are the same as in their pre­vi­ous home.

But they also took the op­por­tu­nity to solve a few prob­lems they had cre­ated in their pre­vi­ous reno.

“Jamie is the cook and I do the clean­ing up, and we had a prob­lem with our other kitchen with the sink and the stove too close to each other. So we solved that here. It helps hav­ing a sec­ond sink too,” Jes­sup says. Their hearts were set on gran­ite coun­ters with brown and grey vein­ing and that proved a chal­lenge to find, es­pe­cially since they needed 13-foot slabs. They even­tu­ally found the River Gold slabs at a place in Markham. “When I grew up, it was the din­ing room ta­ble where we dumped our stuff. Now it’s the is­land,” Jes­sup says. “I could do with­out the junk, but this is­land is the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing.”

A friend of the family, Barb Thorne, is a kitchen de­signer and she helped them work out the lay­out. The space is long and nar­row and it took some time to fig­ure out how to get an is­land in there with­out ob­struct­ing the flow. In the end, they opted for a nar­row is­land that drops to ta­ble height at the end. Chairs are much safer for small chil­dren than bar stools, Jes­sup says, an­other mistake they made in their other home.

An­other friend, Hugh Black, welded the ta­ble legs and they are painted a fun green colour to add punch to the neu­tral pal­ette. Black also sup­plied and framed a large sheet of metal that Jes­sup painted with black chalk­board paint. This is where the kids – Wil­liam, 6, and Clark, 2 – hang their art­work and scrib­ble mes­sages, and where the family cal­en­dar is posted in plain view.

Po­holko’s brother, Dean, is a cab­i­net­maker and they flew him in from Ed­mon­ton to con­struct and in­stall a custom wal­nut pantry cup­board. The wood adds warmth to the white cup­boards and ties in to the trim in the rest of the house. “We were very lucky that way,” Jes­sup says. “That’s also what makes this kitchen so spe­cial to us. So many peo­ple we love had a hand in it.”

Pre­vi­ous reno ex­pe­ri­ence made up­dat­ing this Pan­dora Cres­cent home easier. A friend who is a kitchen de­signer helped de­sign the kitchen lay­out. OP­PO­SITE PAGE: Art­work and mes­sages can be found on a large sheet of metal painted with black chalk­board paint.

Jamie Po­holko and Louise Jes­sup keep busy with chil­dren, Wil­liam and Clark, in the up­dated kitchen of their Pan­dora Cres­cent home.

Widen­ing an ex­ist­ing open­ing al­lows a clear view from the kitchen into the back den that is now a play­room.

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