Award winner shares secrets to a successful kitchen renovation

Award winner shares secrets to a successful kitchen renovation

Saskatoon’s Renovator of the Year at the 2024 Housing Excellence Awards shares tips for homeowners planning their own award-winning reno.

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What does it take to achieve an award-winning kitchen renovation? Centennial Kitchen & Bath has helpful advice for homeowners. The company was named the Certified Professional RenoMark® Renovator of the Year at the 2024 Housing Excellence Awards presented Feb. 10 by the Saskatoon & Region Home Builders Association (SRHBA).

The family-owned company took home awards for three renovation projects: Best Kitchen Renovation of the Year (under $50,000), Kitchen Renovation of the Year (over $50,000) and Bathroom Renovation of the Year.

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“It was very rewarding to work with the homeowners on these award-winning projects and bring their vision to reality,” says Kaylee Lam, M. Arch, renovation consultant with Centennial Kitchen & Bath.

Centennial Kitchen & Bath won a 2024 Housing Excellence Award in the Best Kitchen Renovation (under $50,000) for this Saskatoon kitchen
The Centennial Kitchen & Bath team transformed a dated ’80s-style kitchen (below) into a bright, modern and open space (above). The kitchen won a 2024 Housing Excellence Award for Best Kitchen Renovation (under $50,000). To achieve the homeowner’s vision for her kitchen, the 1980’s style dark oak cabinets were removed and an interior wall separating the dining room was torn down.
Centennial Kitchen & Bath won a Housing Excellence Award for transforming this outdated kitchen.

The kitchen renovation which won in the under-$50,000 category achieved “a really big transformation” despite a modest budget, says Lam.

“It was a bit of a smaller kitchen, with a dated ‘’80s look. A wall was removed, but it wasn’t load-bearing. The client was really looking to modernize her home. She wanted something light, bright and modern.”

The Centennial team pulled out all the stops when working on the kitchen that won in the over-$50,000 category.

“That project included working with engineers on structural changes, as well as work to the foundation of the home. The owners had some water damage to repair when they inherited the home. This renovation was the full meal deal. Being able to help someone through those challenges is really important,” says Lam.

“The property had been passed down to the current owners by a family member, so there were historical and emotional elements we wanted to honour. We chose a farmhouse style for that kitchen.”

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The centrepiece of the kitchen is a 14-foot walnut island which the family can gather around.

“There were lots of unique, personal touches,” says Lam. “The family had cut down a large tree and we turned the tree trunk into the base of their dining island. I also incorporated some real barnwood from my family’s farm into the design.”

Award winning kitchen renovation designed by Centennial Kitchen & Bath in Saskatoon
This extensive renovation by Centennial Kitchen & Bath (above) was named the Best Kitchen Renovation of the Year (over $50,000). The trunk of a large tree cut down on the property was incorporated by Centennial Kitchen & Bath into the 14-foot walnut island that is the centrepiece of the stunning kitchen. The project involved structural engineering and repairs to the home’s foundation, in addition to new cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring. The before kitchen is pictured below.
Centennial Kitchen & Bath completely transformed this aging kitchen

To help achieve a client’s dream kitchen, the Centennial team starts out by asking questions.

“When working with clients, you’re working with different personalities — even between spouses. It’s important to take time to get to know how they use their kitchens. I’ll ask the homeowners: Who is going to use the kitchen? What do you like and not like about your kitchen?” says Lam.

Establishing a budget for the project is also vital.

“Knowing what the budget is allows us to advise you on where you should best spend your money,” says Lam.

“A lot of people come at a kitchen renovation project with a cabinet-and-counters frame of mind. But often, the project will require electrical and plumbing work. We might have to take drywall down and do insulation because an exterior wall in the kitchen is involved. Having a professional renovator like Centennial that can co-ordinate all of that for you, know the costs involved and ensure it’s done properly, which is important. Because Centennial Kitchen & Bath is under the same ownership as Centennial Plumbing & Heating, we have plumbers, electricians, carpenters and tilers on staff, and can access their expertise.”

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Before selecting a renovator, Lam urges homeowners to inquire about warranty protections and check out references.

“We’ve had clients who have had a bad experience somewhere else. Then they couldn’t get hold of their contractor and had to bring in someone else to redo things. We’ve been around for decades. If something goes wrong, and surprises do happen sometimes, we stand behind our work and make it right,” she says.

Checking a company’s online reputation on sites like Google Reviews, Facebook and the Better Business Bureau is also helpful, she advises.

“Always ask the company for past projects they can show you, and check out those references.”

Michael Shaw
Nicole Burgess, CEO of the Saskatoon & Regional Home Builders Association (right), presents Michael Shaw, leader of operations at Centennial Kitchen & Bath, with the Certified Professional RenoMark® Renovator of the Year award, at the Housing Excellence Awards on Feb. 10. Photo by True Touch Media/Tanner Michalenko /SUPPLIED

A kitchen renovation involves making numerous decisions about colours, materials, appliances and finishes, and can lead to what Lam calls “paralysis by analysis”.

She adds: “There’s a big convenience to working with a company that has a showroom. We have samples of almost everything you need for your renovation under one roof. Instead of having to go to a cabinet shop, a flooring store, a countertop company — carting samples around and talking to different people — at Centennial, you’ll have one designer helping you co-ordinate everything.”

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To help homeowners visualize their dream kitchen, the Centennial team uses 3D modelling software.

“We will ask for a design retainer, which is a small deposit on the project. We’ll do site visits and help the owners pick their materials, then produce 3D models, illustrating different colour schemes and layouts. As soon as the homeowners see the 3D models, it gives them peace of mind whether they’re going in the right direction,” says Lam.

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