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.