It helps to design the perfect kitchen when you make them for a living. It's also a decided bonus when you've been building award-winning homes for most of your life. Meet Bill Laurysen, vice-president of operations at Laurysen Kitchens, working alongside his sister Caroline Castrucci and her husband Giuseppe Castrucci. Next meet Heidi Laurysen, vice-president of Holitzner Homes, overseeing the company with her sister Carmen Fleguel.
The Laurysen and Holitzner families have mixed family and business for more than 40 years, with Laurysen's Carp Road factory manufacturing all of the cabinetry, kitchens and bathrooms for Holitzner Homes.
"We searched for the right property for a few years," says Bill Laurysen in the stone bungalow he shares with his wife Heidi and their two teenage sons. "We always knew we wanted an acreage that was close to work." They found the right piece of land between Holitzner's Kanata offices and Laurysen's manufacturing plant in Ottawa's west end.
Like most couples, the Laurysens put a lot of focus on their kitchen, but because of their expertise, they knew exactly what they wanted, starting with a visit to Universal Appliances where they ordered a free-standing Wolf range, a Miele built-in coffee/espresso/cappuccino maker, Sub-Zero's built-in fridge and Fisher and Paykel's double dishwasher drawers.
Both are keenly interested in kitchen details. For that reason, the couple had two granite-topped islands installed, allowing them to work in the kitchen without burning each other's fingers.
The double islands also make entertaining a breeze because one island becomes a serving counter and the other turns into a work station. If that space isn't enough, the built-in bar on the back wall of the kitchen contains a wine fridge and more granite countertops for serving up drinks.
The Laurysens have a tip for those who have despaired over pulling their favourite Le Creuset pot from the darkest, deepest recesses of a cupboard: drawers.
Such a simple idea, and yet it solves so many kitchen issues. "Almost everything in our kitchen is in a drawer," she says. "The freezer, the garbage can and our dishes - because it's easier to organize and there is much less bending down."
While the kitchen is big, Glidden's warm Doric cream colour on the walls adds a cosy feeling, offsetting the custom Tiramisu glaze on the mitred birch cabinets and drawers.
The couple added definition to the islands by choosing a darker cognac glaze for the doors under the islands, which compliments the lustrous Bordeaux granite top.
The kitchen colours are typical of the neutral palette that reigns throughout the bungalow, a backdrop that was important because they sold virtually every stick of furniture before moving into the bungalow in 2005. The two turned to M.Y. HOME in Kanata to furnish and decorate their new home.
With the help of store owner Tamara O'Leary, the Laurysens chose leather couches and chairs, creating a conversation area for watching the large, flat-screen television in the great room.
The most splendid feature of this private master is the double-sided gas fireplace which forms one wall of the bathroom and bedroom, shedding light and adding instant romance.
Caroline and Giuseppe Castrucci
Next on the tour is the newly finished home belonging to the royal couple of kitchen trends, Caroline and Giuseppe Castrucci.
Again Laurysen did the cabinetry work in the kitchen and the library of the majestic house which was designed by Gerhard Linse.
The Castruccis live and breathe kitchens. And also they live and breathe home construction. She is vice-president of administration and he is vice-president of sales and marketing at Lauyrsen Kitchens. They travel the world sourcing out new trends and supply cabinetry to many Ottawa builders.
Stepping through the double front doors, guests walk into a two-storey entrance hall filled with natural light and two enormous nutcracker figures, deliberately left over from Christmas last year.
Just off the entrance hall is the handsome dining room and a magnificent dining table made from an enormous piece of African Bubingawood. "The table is a huge, natural piece of artwork that God made," he says.
That remarkable table is typical of the Castruccis' sense of style, where exceptional craftsmanship and unique characteristics are celebrated. Consider the limestone floor, which does not follow a set pattern, but reflects the expert eyes of Tony Battisti and Pino Pugliese, owners of A & R Tile.
"Unless it's an area rug, we don't have any rugs because we wanted to show off the incredible workmanship," he notes. A few steps down the limestone floor is the fully outfitted kitchen with sexy appliances for fine family living the right, and a stunning, two-storey great room straight ahead.
Both rooms are bathed in warmth, not the kind generated from the massive stone fireplace in the Great Room or the impressive Wolf range in the kitchen, but from Benjamin Moore's Autumn Gold paint on the walls.
Caroline has pulled the colour scheme through every detail in the main areas of the house, even the kitchen's luxurious granite countertops, an upgrade which she affirms remain as popular as ever with builders and renovators.
"Granite is so easy to keep clean, to look after and to look at." And once again, wood is a focal point. Cherry cabinets display glassware and cherry panels hide the Sub-Zero fridge and freezer.
Two granite and cherry wood islands deliver loads of working space and the Castruccis also have a lineup of leading appliances, including a fancy espresso-cappuccino coffee machine and Miele oven.
When the family isn't sharing meals in the kitchen where a quick peek out the window is normally rewarded with deer or turkey sightings, they can be found under the high coffered ceiling of the great room.
This is where they unwind by the fire and relax on a distinctive burnt-orange, semi-circular Blue Oasis couch sourced by Luc Crawford and Jamie LeBlanc of Ottawa's Designsby2 (designsby2.ca).
The Castruccis waited 18 years to design the home of their dreams, and they have no regrets.
"It was a wonderful experience designing this house," Caroline says.