Business

Finalists chosen for RenoMe! With FortisBC contest

Three British Columbia residents are getting the chance to win $10,000 towards a room makeover with natural gas after being chosen as a finalist in the RenoMe! with FortisBC contest.

Over 150 entries were received from all over the province, but the final three were narrowed down to Gayle Curtis of Maple Ridge for her kitchen, Melissa Tolsma of Nanaimo for her outdoor space and Wendy Frose of Chilliwack for her great room.

Designer Sarah Gallop of Sarah Gallop Design Inc. (SGDI) has taken on the outdoor space project, while SGDI's Stephanie Malhas will design the great room, and Susanne Doise of Sensitive Design will handle the kitchen.

In the next phase of the contest, the three finalists will receive renderings of their space from their designer, and then readers will vote on which one deserves the makeover the most. The room with the most votes will win $10,000 towards their renovation, while the second and third-place finalists will receive $2,000 each.

Doise has consulted with Curtis, and has provided a rendering of how she thinks the kitchen could look once it's renovated.

"The kitchen is in bad shape," says Doise. "I want to give her a better flow between the work spaces and the rest of the room."

Curtis calls her kitchen disgusting, gross and old, and says she's tired of burning everything she cooks due to a bad stove, so Doise will be incorporating natural gas in the kitchen with a Viking dual-fuel gas range.

"It's a very simple way to use natural gas," she says.

Gas cooktops have long been popular with professional chefs for their even cooking, precise temperature control and instant heat. Homeowners have increasingly been choosing them for their new and renovated kitchens alike.

One of the concerns with the room is the lack of space. In order to combat this, Doise has suggested a movable butcher block island that can be pushed into the pantry wall to open up the space. She notes that currently, you can't even open the refrigerator without bumping into the existing counter, and opening the dishwasher blocks you from doing anything else in the kitchen.

"I want to bring in more light as well," she says. "It will look more friendly and inviting."

She also plans to incorporate an area for the homeowners to work and study.

"I want to make it multi-functional," she says.

Doise has considered the owner's tastes as well, and would incorporate her likes and dislikes into the final design.

"I want to make her happy," she says.

Malhas is similarly excited about her great room project.

"People live in their space for so long that they get used to it and have trouble visualizing changing it," she says. "I don't have that emotional connection to it so I can see the potential in the room and suggest ways to fix it."

The current room is the main living area for Frose's family, and it's in dire need of an update.

"Any time I can get into wood panelling is good," laughs Malhas. "It will definitely be gone."

One of the biggest issues with the room is the current wood-burning fireplace, which isn't centred in the room and makes for awkward seating around it. Malhas plans to fix this.

"We're going to put a natural gas fireplace centred on the wall," she says, "and get rid of the metal pipe that goes into the ceiling."

She also plans to give the homeowners more storage space via built-in shelving, as well as a music area.

"She's embarrassed by the room," Malhas says. "It's very dark, but it's quite a big space so I want to make it more contemporary with a retro style."

A natural gas fireplace is both more energy-efficient and more convenient for homeowners. You no longer have to worry about power outages, since the fireplace doesn't run on electricity, and there is no more waiting for your fireplace to heat up, since natural gas is available at the push of a button. There are even some models that can be pre-programmed to turn on a specific time. FortisBC is currently offering a $300 rebate for homeowners who purchase a qualifying EnerChoice fireplace.

Tolsma's outdoor space offers plenty of scope for a makeover. The space is currently only usable in the warmer months, so she's hoping to be able to use it year-round if she wins the contest.

Among the ideas Gallop has for the yard is a hot tub with an arbor above it.

"That will give them a little bit of coverage and privacy," she says, adding that the hot tub will be heated by natural gas.

Gallop also plans to include an outdoor kitchen with natural gas barbecue and a natural gas firepit.

A natural gas hot tub is a great idea for homeowners, with its consistent, fast heat and automatic safety shut-off controls for added peace of mind. Swimming pools can also be heated by natural gas.

FortisBC notes that a natural gas barbecue can be extremely convenient for homeowners looking for fuel on demand, as you'll never have to deal with running out of propane or charcoal. It also allows you to cook with different temperatures at the same time and control the heat more easily. It also burns cleaner than other fuel sources, making it good for the environment as well.

FortisBC offers an online energy calculator that will help you compare the cost of fuel sources and their energy efficiency, demonstrating that natural gas is the most affordable choice for homeowners. Find it at www.fortisbc.com/energycalculator. FortisBC natural gas customers are also continuing to benefit from some of the lowest prices in a decade, at under $4 per gigajoule. More information can be found at www.fortisbc.com/rates.

Firepits are becoming increasingly popular in outdoor spaces, especially for those who want to use their outdoor space for more than just the summer months. They also make for great entertaining areas that Gallop describes as like camping in your own backyard.

Gallop's design features several levels to define the different spaces in the yard.

"The space looked disconnected before," she says. "This gives (Tolsma) different zones in the yard while still being connected."

It also makes the space transition a bit better between the casual entertaining area, the hot tub and the rest of the yard.

"It's a pretty straightforward renovation," Gallop says. "The homeowner will be very happy with it."

To vote for your favourite finalist, visit your local Black Press paper's website and click on the Contests link. Voting is open now until Nov. 30, and every voter will be entered into a draw to win a $500 gift card towards the purchase of a natural gas appliance.

For more information about natural gas in your home, visit www.fortisbc.com/goodforhomes.

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