As nice as it is to have a beautiful kitchen, the road to it isn’t always smooth. We chatted with some recognizable faces in the food world that have all undergone kitchen renovations recently. They share their ups and downs, and a few great tips too!

Karen Richards and Tim Daigle

@socialgrrrl on Twitter, Karen Richards has her hands in a lot of things, from teaching social media courses at Mount Royal College to writing for Avenue, and of course, heading up Calgary Poutine Week.

The most unexpected road bump during your renovation?

New post-1955 guidelines for electrical…electrical was easily the most expensive install. Also if you have a developed basement, be prepared to demo some of the ceiling to run new services. Most renos in older homes can be complex if rewiring or new plumbing is required and you have a developed ceiling in your basement.

Your favourite part of your new kitchen?

Stainless steel countertops – sanitary and gorgeous. Also very original, we’d say, for a home kitchen as compared to the old standards like stone or concrete!

Best tip you’d offer someone?

Make sure that all surfaces such as walls and floors are flat, true and level or you will be compensating for these being overlooked for the rest of your renovation. In some cases you will not be able to continue until these surfaces are levelled.

Photo by Chad St. Pierre

Danielle Cardozo

The MasterChef Canada season one finalist loves to cook for family and friends, so began working on her kitchen just a few months ago to turn it into a more functional space, perfect for entertaining.

The one part of the kitchen you think is the most important to sink extra money into if you can?

A good chef can cook with any appliance. With that said, if you’re renovating your home kitchen and you are on a budget, spend the money on the infrastructure. You can always buy new appliances down the road, but it’s much harder to add something like a new countertop later on!

Your favourite part of your new kitchen?

Besides opening it up for entertaining, it’s definitely my spice rack pull out! I love the organization that it brings to the kitchen.

Best tip you’d offer someone?

Don’t do it! No, I’m kidding. I’d say when it comes to your kitchen, really over-budget in the planning stages. You’d be amazed at what comes up when you least expect it.

Julie Van Rosendaal

Best-selling cookbook author and personality, Van Rosendaal lives in a charming old character home in Calgary. With charming old homes come older kitchens and a need for a facelift. After completing her kitchen earlier this year, Van Rosendaal finally has a space she truly loves.

What’s the toughest thing about the renovation process?

Without question, not having a kitchen! And, also, doing dishes in the bathtub. Seriously… at first it was like camping, but by Thanksgiving, having noodles swimming around my feet every time I had a shower got pretty old!

Your favourite part of your new kitchen?

The drawers! Drawers are SO MUCH MORE USEFUL than the old cupboards I had that were so awkward to get into. Also, I have a proper place for garbage and recycling, and a fridge with an ice machine, which I’ve never owned before, and makes me feel like a total adult.

Best tip you’d offer someone?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. We had an old hardwood floor that had been stripped so many times we couldn’t do it again. I suggested painting it, but everyone said we couldn’t, that the paint wouldn’t last. To replace just the small kitchen floor would have cost about $5,000. So I asked until I got the answer I wanted – I found a super tough (yet not toxic) paint at Walls Alive that has some sort of glue in it that bonds with the wood, and I love the painted floor… which we did ourselves for about $100.

Leslie Echino

Though wine may be her forte, that doesn’t mean that Blink’s owner, Leslie Echino, doesn’t want to have a nice kitchen at home too.

The most important appliance in your kitchen?

Wine fridge, ha! But seriously, having a good stove top. I don’t like gas and Miele makes the best induction stove tops. It gives your kitchen a clean look and doesn’t put off much heat. It cooks evenly and heats up/cools down almost instantly.

Your favourite part of your new kitchen?

The white carrara marble island with my Miele stove top. I fell in love with the marble. I’m sure it is so impractical yet looks amazing and impressive – laughs.

Best tip you’d offer someone?

You need to trust your contractor, otherwise it can get very expensive and time consuming. They can make the experience enjoyable or extremely painful! Thank goodness mine was amazing and made me stay on budget!

John Gilchrist

What? Food critics cook too? You bet they do! The CBC restaurant reviewer and Calgary Herald columnist shares some of his renovation experiences.

How did you keep your renovation going smoothly?

I told our contractor that I didn’t care when the reno took place, just that it had to be done in one piece. He promised me they’d come in on Monday morning, do the tear out, then replace plumbing and wiring, the cupboards and venting, add backsplash tile and new lighting, install new sinks and counters and replace the floor and have us in a working kitchen by Friday night. Friday at 7pm, the water came back on. It wasn’t all finished, but it went very smooth!

Your favourite part of your new kitchen?

The light, lots more of it. And that everything actually works now.

Best tip you’d offer someone?

Round knobs for cupboards or doors. If square knobs are off-centre even a little bit, they look awful. With round ones, who can tell?

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