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Renovation Transformation: Foodie designer creates dream kitchen for trained chef |

Renovation Transformation: Foodie designer creates dream kitchen for trained chef

You’ve probably heard the phrase you eat to live or live to eat. Self-proclaimed foodie Deirdre Jorssen identifies with the latter.

Jorssen is a designer at OakWood Design Centre, an award-winning custom home builder and renovation firm in Ottawa. Her passion for food influences her work and was the driving force behind a recent full-scale kitchen renovation in a family home near Elgin Street.


“To be a kitchen designer and to love food goes hand in hand,” says Jorssen. “I like for designs to be layered in complexity and I like my food to be the same. Taking one bite is kind of like the initial experience and reaction and then you take a second bite and you taste something different and it kind of unravels another layer, another texture.”

If it were a competition, her only rival for the title of biggest foodie would be the homeowner, Jorssen jokes. In her 15-year career this was the first time she transformed a kitchen for a trained chef.

“Being a foodie myself and working with someone who knows food really benefit this home,” she says. “You have to know how a space works.”

The family opted for heat and stain-resistant countertops, a gas stove, proper ventilation and cupboards made to host a range of cooking accessories.

“Usually when we’re designing a space we make a lot of recommendations, but because he knew the sizes of his cookware and accessories, everything had a home. Everything was much more tailored for this project,” Jorssen says.

The new kitchen is classic in design with a fresh and bright feel. The space has white custom cabinets, quartz countertops, a taupe backsplash, stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island made of light-coloured wood.


BEFORE: The previous kitchen was renovated in the 1980s but with time, its style and functionality decreased. It was cramped, outdated and impractical.

Oakwood Design Centre /

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The previous space was part cooking area and part playroom for the family’s young children. It was outdated, cramped and “bursting at the seams” with little available storage space, says Jorssen.

In eight weeks the renovation team doubled the kitchen’s size after a complete gut job and the relocation of one wall. It was completed in December 2016.

While kids’ toys no longer fill the space on the kitchen floor, the addition of a small desk area allows the family to connect while meals are being made.

“As their family and priorities change and kids age, this space is something they won’t have to worry about. This is a space that won’t cause headaches,” she says. “It will grow with the family.”

Jorssen says the family was thrilled with the final result; it’s indeed a kitchen fit for a chef.


A small study nook was added to the transformed kitchen, offering a space for family members to sit and interact while someone is cooking a meal.

Oakwood Design Centre /

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Safety considerations for old homes

The downtown home was more than a century old. Considering its age, OakWood went through a series of tests to ensure it was safe for both the homeowners and workers.

The team checked for hazardous materials, like mould or asbestos, and also the integrity of the electrical and plumbing systems. This helps determine costs up front and keeps the client’s best interest at heart, explains Jorssen.

Tests confirmed the invasion of asbestos in the kitchen – something very common for homes of this age.

In fact, all houses built before 1984 must be tested for asbestos. According to Health Canada, health risks caused by asbestos can result in irritation and inflammation that can reduce lung function and cause cancer.

“There can be surprises on sight – I mean we can’t see through walls. But you try to inform clients as best you can,” says Jorssen. Although fumigation added a few extra days to the timeline, it was a necessary delay to create the family’s dream space.

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