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Let there be white: Winning kitchens and bathrooms at Ottawa's Design Excellence Awards


Despite some flirtation with colour recently, our love affair with all things white in kitchens and bathrooms is not going anywhere, according to the winning designs in this year’s Ottawa kitchen and bath awards.

Whites dominated in both spaces among the entries in the Design Excellence Awards put on by the Ottawa chapter of the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association May 4.

“We had thought that we had moved away from white, but evident from all of the submissions is that white is still very popular with designers,” says Shelley Robertson, a designer at Centura Tile and the chair of the awards committee, which organized the gala dinner at the Hilton Lac Leamy. More than 165 gathered in the Beethoven Room as the winners in 21 categories were named from 96 entries.

White may be key, but Ottawa designer Anna Riopelle, who was one of four judges this year, also liked what she saw in terms of texture.

“Oftentimes in design, people focus just on colours and not on textural change and I found it very interesting to see that most candidates… paid adequate attention, almost equal to the colour sense, to the textures.”

One winning example of a white bathroom that layered in texture was a dreamy ensuite by Nathan Kyle of Astro Design Centre that paid exquisite attention to detail.

“There’s a detail on every wall that you see in that bathroom and it all needed to seamlessly integrate together,” he says. “It was challenging in a way that was exciting.”

The bathroom had another of the judges, Lee-Ann LaCroix of Lee-Ann LaCroix and Associates, gushing.

“(It) was so spectacular I could have lived in just that bathroom. Put a cot in there and I would have been happy,” she says. “It felt like you were walking into the Four Seasons bathroom — really, really beautiful.”

The bathroom was one of three wins for Kyle on the night, joining Elnaz Shahrokhi of Laurysen Kitchens and Emma Doucet of Grassroots Design + Build as the designers with the most personal wins, although at least a half a dozen others had two wins apiece.

Of note, one of Shahrokhi’s winning designs was the ensuite from last year’s Minto Dream Home in the CHEO Dream of a Lifetime Lottery, which won both its bathroom category and a People’s Choice award. And it’s not the first time Shahrokhi has won an award for a dream home design. Her designs of the main bath and the ensuite in the 2017 home both won at last fall’s Housing Design Awards put on by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.

“It was very unexpected,” she said following the NKBA awards. “I wasn’t really thinking that far, but it was really nice. Definitely a very good feeling.”

Laurysen Kitchens’ designers notched the most wins for a company, scooping up seven, including awarding the Doris Lacroix trophy to Laurysen vice-president of administration Caroline Castrucci. The award is given to an NKBA member who goes above and beyond to give back to the industry.

“It was nice to see a lot of different winners… and then Caroline got the Doris Lacroix, which was a nice little cherry on top,” says her husband, Giuseppe Castrucci, who is vice-president of sales and marketing at Laurysen and a founding member of the NKBA Ottawa chapter.

“Caroline, as gregarious and outgoing as she is, she never speaks about her accomplishments… and I don’t think anybody even realizes what she’s done and the contributions that she’s made.”

Noting that the kitchen business was all she had ever known, having joined her father’s company when she was 18, in accepting the award she joked that if she were to cut herself, “I’d probably bleed sawdust.”

While white laid the foundation in many designs, there were some splashes of colour, drama and warmth. Wood accents, in particular, dotted the entries.

“Warm woods are all coming back in again,” notes Robertson. “People have grown tired of that cold white-grey look.”

Judge Irene Chu of Paris Kitchens in southern Ontario sees it as a mixing of trends, infusing a white or grey kitchen with natural materials to bring the outside in and create a more transitional look. She also sees darker kitchens on the horizon, based on what she’s seeing in Europe right now, which is usually a few years ahead of the North American market.

While there was a lot of white and grey in the entries, she says, “we found a few that had some very stunning contrasting colours… It was nice to see that designers were willing to take the jump and go very bold.”

The winners

Best New Designer

1 st : Emily Meechan, Distinctive Bathrooms and Kitchens

2 nd : Ola Elmaghraby, Laurysen Kitchens

Creative Concept

1 st : Tim Rutherford, Elliott Custom Kitchens and Bathrooms

2 nd : Stacey Price, Stacey Price Design

Kitchen: Classic/Traditional ($20,000-$39,999*)

1 st : Julianna Dykstra, Distinctive Bathrooms and Kitchens

2 nd : Wael Bakr, Laurysen Kitchens

Kitchen: Classic /Traditional ($40,000-$59,999*)

1 st : Nathan Kyle, Astro Design Centre

2 nd : Emma Doucet, Grassroots Design + Build

Kitchen: Classic/Traditional ($60,000-$79,999*)

1 st : Dawn Tite, The Cabinet Connection & Linda Chapman, Linda Chapman Architecture

2 nd : Nicole Hubert, Design First Interiors

Kitchen: Classic/Traditional ($80,000+*)

1 st : Ewa Stys, Muskoka Cabinet Company

Kitchen: Contemporary/Modern ($20,000-$39,999*)

1 st : Julia Enriquez, Astro Design Centre

2 nd : André Guénette, The Kitchen Guy

Kitchen: Contemporary/Modern ($40,000-$59,999*)

1 st : Colleen MacKinnon-Simms, Muskoka Cabinet Company

2 nd : Nicole Hubert, Design First Interiors

Kitchen: Contemporary/Modern ($60,000-$79,999*)

1 st : Megan Bachynski, Design First Interiors & Ernst Hupel/Danielle Hannah, 2H Interior Design

2 nd : Taniya Lawrence, Taniya Lawrence Interieur

Bathroom: Classic/Traditional ($10,000-$24,999*)

1 st : Nathan Kyle, Astro Design Centre & Susan Bryson, Susan Bryson Interior Design

2 nd : Cara Mears, Design First Interiors

Bathroom: Classic/Traditional ($25,000-$39,999*)

1 st : Karley Scrivens, Laurysen Kitchens

2 nd : Tim Rutherford, Elliott Custom Kitchens and Bathrooms

Bathroom: Classic/Traditional ($40,000+*)

1 st : Nathan Kyle, Astro Design Centre

2 nd : Megan Bachynski, Design First Interiors

Bathroom: Contemporary/Modern ($10,000-$24,999*)

1 st : Elnaz Shahrokhi, Laurysen Kitchens

2 nd : Emma Doucet, Grassroots Design + Build

Bathroom: Contemporary/Modern ($25,000-$39,999*)

1 st : Lauren Bowen, Tego Bathroom Solutions

2 nd : Marcia Perrotte, Designs MCP

Bathroom: Contemporary/Modern ($40,000+*)

1st: Jenny Neilson, Artium Design Build

Powder Rom: Any Style

1 st : Julia Enriquez, Astro Design Centre

2 nd : Colleen MacKinnon-Simms, Muskoka Cabinet Company

The Look for Less: Kitchen or Bathroom

Emma Doucet, Grassroots Design + Build

Best Transformation: Kitchen or Bathroom

1 st : André Guénette, The Kitchen Guy

2 nd : Natalia Pierce, Detail by Design

Other Room

1 st : Ewa Stys, Muskoka Cabinet Company

2 nd : Elnaz Shahrokhi, Laurysen Kitchens

Doris Lacroix Award (recognizing industry & community involvement)

Caroline Castrucci, Laurysen Kitchens

People’s Choice Award: Bathroom

Elnaz Shahrokhi, Laurysen Kitchens

People’s Choice Award: Kitchen

Vida Kiani, Distinctive Bathrooms and Kitchens

(*does not include labour)

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