The Holistic Approach + Our Kitchen Design [Cabin Update!]

Design: Amber Lewis, Photo: Tessa Neustadt

With just three weeks to go until we get the keys to our place, it’s just starting to sink in, and we are so excited!!! We’ve been busy preparing for the renovations as best we can, which means lots of drawing, planning, scheduling, inspiration-hunting, measuring and lots of good, old-fashioned talking it through. Thankfully, because this is what Mike does for a living, it’s been smooth sailing so far and he’s been able to set us up with a solid schedule and plan, while Mother Nature and I have been spearheading the design.

We’ve been using the original elevations and house plans (which you can view here) to design the space from afar which has been challenging, but not nearly as much as I’d have thought. And I think it’s because we’ve taken a big-picture approach—or what I like to call a holistic approach. The holistic approach is one which considers all aspects of a home: where it is, who lives in it, and all of the senses—sight, smell, sound and feel/touch. While we haven’t lived in it yet—which will be an exciting next step that will only help influence the right design all the more—we know where it is, what it looks like now, and how it feels. We’ve drawn it from every angle, on paper and digitally, we’ve gathered inspiration, we’ve talked through how we want it to operate for us—Piper included—and we’ve been considerate of the land on which it sits (and how), and the materials we want to use. It takes a lot more intention and awareness to design this way, and the process can be slower, but we want this home to feel like a refuge, and to do that we need to design around what feels true and good to us. I think the goal of home design would be about aligning your space with your self (read this post if you’re curious what I mean by that). It’s less about pointing at products going “I want that and that and that,” and more about following some simple principles rooted in design, nature, and psychology. It’s considering all aspects of a home, all aspects of ourselves, and then designing around both. And the real beauty in this process is that it doesn’t just create a home that’s beautiful, it creates a home that encourages our wellbeing. Of course, in practice, this approach will be tested and you may have to pivot or make decisions on the fly, but with awareness of everything involved up to that point, your gut won’t steer you wrong. So without further ado, I thought I’d share an update on where we’re at with our home, and all the bits and pieces involved in that for us.

We’re thinking through the switching and electrical plan. And lighting!

With any home renovation, there’s a sequence to what happens and when. And one of the first things we’re having to make decisions on (outside of the overall design) is our electrical plan. In my previous home (which I renovated by myself), I left all lights, outlets and switches right where they were. But in the case of a whole home reno, we not only have the opportunity to move these items, but the obligation in some cases. As we make changes to the current main floor, we’ll have to move a handful of outlets and switches, but something we’re not moving, however, are ceiling lights. Because our ceiling is pine, any existing light locations are there to stay because the last thing we want to do is patch big holes in the wood, let alone create new ones. Now, it’s a bit tricky because the placement of all current ceiling lights is… awkward. If I had it my way, I’d eliminate half of the current ceiling lights and move them to the walls, installing wall sconces and under lighting, but sometimes you can’t design from scratch, you have to work with what you have. So in lieu of removing moving lights, I’m currently sourcing flush mount ceiling lights that look appropriate for the space and that don’t detract in any way from the cabin feel. Find inspiration at the bottom pf this post…

We have a loose kitchen design plan.

After establishing the basics and nailing down the overall design for the home, the very first room in the home we designed was (and is) the kitchen. I say is because it’s nowhere near finished by any means, but we’ve finally been able to visualize it (see the plans below).

In terms of going custom or big-box DIY, we’re undecided. Obviously, we’d love to get a local company to craft the kitchen, but it will come down to price. The colours and nuances may change, but we know we want to incorporate a large pantry/single-door fridge in the area where the ceiling opens up, we know we want to install a large horizontal window above the sink, and we know we want a long island (both kinds) with enough seating for 2-4. I love industrial kitchens (so does Mike) for their simplicity and ease, so we’re incorporating the function of that without the look by including open shelving in the island, where we’ll house our simple sets of mixing bowls, go-to pots and pans, etc. Designing it on the kitchen-side of the island only will keep the look clean and tidy, and the left wall where the open shelving is more on-display, we’ll put our pretty mugs, cups and dishes. I envision the shelves, backsplash and countertop being the same stone, and the walls will be painted with a Lime Wash in a light tone.

We extended our rental lease.

Some of our stuff packed away! QMM makes by-far the greatest packing and moving boxes. We aren’t using them to move, but you can read about our cross-country experience here.

We extended our rental in Squamish for the first month we get possession of our new home. Why? Well, despite the obvious—having a working bath to soak in after a day of demo and hard work—it’s also our safety net if there’s anything wrong with the cabin. We have no idea what’s behind the walls, and getting stuck without a place to stay if it needed any kind of serious work is something we’d rather avoid. It’s good news for us though, because while it means another rental cheque, it also means not having to rent a second storage room. When we planned our move initially (without extending our rental) we got a storage room to hold all of our stuff during that transition, but it quickly filled up. It’s already half full and we have yet to pack our clothes, or bring over any furniture. If we left our place at the end of this month, we’d have to store ALL of our stuff and bring it over to the new place slowly. But now, we can take our time over March to move things directly from one house to another, no transition to storage, saving time—and our backs.

We’re inspired.

In closing, here’s some inspiration from my Pinterest board for the home. The feature image photo is designed by Amber Interiors (photo by Tessa Neustadt).

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