By: Lynne Knowlton

If you want to read a heartfelt, true story about a real living family, one that is battling with cancer and simultaneously living out their dreams (like hello, they have a treehouse!) go read Design The Life You Want To Live by Lynne Knowlton. It’s full of love and hope, sadness, adventure, design, dreams, and 100% reality.  And a kitchen renovation. 


Lynne will show you how to make your house a home. She’ll dare you to keep it simple. She believes that simplicity makes room for the important things in life. She dares you to keep it simple, yet beautiful. Get ideas on how to dream big and how to make your house feel like home. Your home should make you happy.  


We met up with Lynne and talked about her kitchen renovation. 


Over the last couple of years (yes, it took that long, eeeek right?! ) one of the biggest projects we tackled was a kitchen renovation in our 100 year old farmhouse. We wanted a kitchen that would be eye-catching and classic, yet functional and beautiful. Because hey, let’s face it, every good party winds up in the kitchen! Kitchens are a defining space and hub of your home. 


Here are my top tips on how to give a dated kitchen a fresh, modern look:



Hello whitewashed minimalism. I love white and the staggering simplicity it brings to space. If you create a home with a more neutral base, it leaves room for colour throughout.  Pop in colour with art, your throw pillows, accent chairs, decor. 



Homes are hangouts, and if there are any rules to follow, they go something like this:


Light trumps dark

Fun trumps formality

Nature is the best card in the deck

There are so many beautiful ways to infuse character in a room. For this kitchen, I opted for a vintage 1950’s Moffat® Electric stove and kept the original wood-burning stove too.

Other character building pieces are the natural wood coffee tables, patterned pillows for texture, and a few succulent houseplants.

Aesthetically, I dig the design style of less is the new more (unless you are talking about throw pillows) then all bets are off.



As a designer, I’m inspired by the smallest of details. The entire design inspiration for this kitchen stemmed from the Delta® Trinsic® kitchen faucet in Champagne Bronze. True story! Because hello, have you seen this faucet? Whoa! It’s my favourite faucet in the history of ever. The Touch20® Technology in a kitchen is H.E.A.V.E.N. Tap on, tap off. Dreamy!!

As for the lights, the mesh gold toned island pendant lighting brings the eye upward, and adds an interesting texture to the space. We kept the warm metal look going throughout the kitchen by powder coating the chrome bar stools to a soft gold colour. It was affordable and beautiful all at once. Brass kick plates and gold mesh inserts in the pantry were the icing on the cake.




When you’re renovating a 100-year-old farm house, there are bound to be some surprises. Actually, there are always surprises… both good and bad. After removing the drywall to open up the space between the kitchen and adjoining room to create the pantry, we discovered an original concrete and wood wall. That was a good surprise! It was raw, rustic, and looked like an industrial ‘art’ wall. We left the wall exposed and boom shakalaka, it brings beautiful character to the space. We had a bonafide conniption when we first discovered the raw concrete wall. It became a blessing in disguise. We LOVE it.

Another original part of the kitchen was the red brick wall. To the horror of my friends {and mother} we painted the brick to a glossy WHITE.  They all gave me the EYES.  The ‘erhhhmergerd, what on earth are you doing wrecking things‘ face?!!!

Note to self: If it is a fixed object, wall or anything that isn’t moving… I paint it white.

The monochromatic white in the room lets all the other features pop.  The glossy white wall was no exception. It really made the vintage stove a wonderful focal point in the room.



Even with a traditional kitchen, we popped in fun bar stools, and beautiful brass drawer pulls to elevate the space. We skipped the upper cabinets, hid the refrigerator and created small appliance hideaways too.

We updated the lighting hardware with vintage style push button switches and plates, and added two windows to make the space even brighter and more open. Let there be light. The walk in pantry is both a dream come true and a stylish space saver. Gotta stash all my popcorn somewhere!




1. Kitchen design should be cooking friendly, wine sipping friendly, spilly-mother-in-law friendly,  popcorn friendly, just all the friendly.

2. If you can create a space for lounging in or around your kitchen, do it. 

3. Less clutter. More creativity. I’m a huge fan of hidden refrigerators.  Small appliance garages are a great way to tuck away your smaller appliances, yet have them within reach.

4. Design your kitchen as a place to retreat, a space to nourish yourself, and a relaxing space to spend time with family & friends. 

5. The kitchen is the heart of your home and home should make you feel happy.  Big time.  Happy.   We light unscented candles at every meal and social gathering. Add fresh flowers, a candle or an essential oil diffuser for a scent to appeal to our sense of smell.




6. Be flexible. Sometimes, a design target can be as easy to hit as the broad side of a barn. Figure out an estimated cost and time, then double it <-That’s generally the realistic number.

7. A balance of scale. Try not to overcomplicate it. Sounds crazy, but large cardboard boxes and masking tape help to create a temporary feel of space layout. 

8. Hire a pro!  Who wants to do math?  We might pull a muscle. Hire an architect / designer to draw the final look before forging ahead.  A floor plan is key.

9. White layered with white. (Did I mention I love white?)  A monochromatic space is easy on the eye. Bring in splashes of colour with your decor elements.

10. Have a comfortable place to sit. Mid century modern furniture, accents that tell a story, wood décor.  I’m digging them all.




11. The lighting in a room can make or break the space, and is one of the most overlooked aspects in design.  With your lighting, can you see the bulb? If so, make it a pretty Edison bulb. I view lighting as art. Make your lighting dimmable and easy on the eye.

12. Neutral rugs are always pretty. Jute for high traffic areas, washable floor runners and soft wooly area rugs are heavenly too.

13. For that rustic feel, add twigs, wood, natural elements, and house plants.   Twigs for curtain rods are so very pretty! 

14. Don’t feel afraid to leave a space incomplete. Your home is a process and it can take some time to find the right table or chair. Living in the space can help you to decide what it needs, what it’s missing, what you need and love.  All good things are worth waiting for






Lynne Knowlton & Lauren Miller