At 31, Jason Good has spent more time in the kitchen during the past 10 years than most people have in their entire lifetimes — and he wasn’t cooking.
Good makes kitchen cabinets, along with bathroom cabinets, shelving units, office systems, furniture, sideboards and just about everything else it’s possible to craft in wood by hand.
During the past year, when he wasn’t building kitchens, libraries and staircases for other people, he was doing the same at home, after buying a 1973 house in the Doncaster area of Victoria.
Last year, one of his kitchens was voted second best in all of North America by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and the design competition’s prize-giving was in Las Vegas. This year, he entered his own kitchen and hopes to do even better.
Good said he and his wife had just returned from a trip to Hawaii when they learned his wife was expecting twins. They decided that very day to sell their old, small house.
When the house they eventually bought came on the market, they were quick to take a look, since Jason had worked on two houses in the area. “And even though the house was not perfect, we love it here because of the view,” he said. “I knew I could turn it into something I wanted.”
So far, he has transformed the upper-floor living area into a showcase. He has plans to add a master suite and an enormous deck, and redo the landscaping, too.
Their new place is a bit bigger than their old one, but seems much more so as you walk up the glass-walled staircase to the second storey. Good took down all the walls on the kitchen side of the house, which previously had defined living, dining and kitchen rooms, and created an enormous island opposite the new seating area and fireplace.
“We now have a big steel beam running right through here to carry the weight,” he said glancing at the ceiling. “I didn’t really intend to make it this big, but decided the leftover spaces were too small to use for anything else, so one end of the kitchen is the new dining room, and the other end is now an office.”
He completed the renovation in just seven weeks, with extra help from Outside the Box Construction.
“We basically gutted it, but it was a cosmetic gutting.”
After taking out the walls, they put down all new, engineered oak flooring and put plywood on every wall for added structural strength.
He also installed new windows and fresh drywall, except on the outside living-room wall, where he intends to install a NanaWall sliding-glass system of windows, opening onto the future deck. “It’s going to be an indoor-outdoor house when we’re finished.”
He smiles as he recalls looking for a basic house that he didn’t have to work on, because of all the other big projects he has these days. His typical workday extends from 6 a.m. till 8:30 at night.
“This was a bigger project than I wanted to take on but … the view.”
For the dining area, he made a black walnut table, one metre by 2.1 metres, that rests on steel I-beams instead of legs.
And in the kitchen, he created a huge island as a focal point.
“The whole room was basically designed around this Neolith technical porcelain slab,” he said, adding the product is new. “I like to personally try all the new products I can.”
The technical porcelain comes in a wide range of colours, is eco-friendly, scratch-, stain-, heat-, fire- and water-resistant and made of 100 per cent natural, recyclable materials.
Good said the slab, which measures 3.6 by 1.2 metres, is “super strong” and durable. “It is indestructible. I’ve tried to stab it with a screw driver and can’t make a mark.”
The countertop is about the same cost as quartz — this piece was about $5,000 — and came from Stone Age Marble and Granite.
He added a walnut bar on two sides. Below is a visual masterpiece of woodworking, a cabinet with meticulously mitred corners and matched wood grains.
“Typically, the wood I use is flawless, but this time, I wanted to introduce some sap wood, which is less in demand, but really beautiful because of the patterns. And I mitred all the outside corners. Usually people ask for no sapwood, no pitch pockets, but everything here is just natural. I wanted this house to be a throwback to a little more rustic look.
“There is nothing too glossy, nothing over-the-top. I get a lot of requests for a glossy look from clients, but it doesn’t wear well.”
He keeps the wood looking good with tung oil. “With this kind of finish, everything is repairable. You can just sand it off. That’s the advantage with solid wood.” He used enamel lacquer finish on all the doors, because it’s easier to clean.
In the living room, he framed around the original fireplace, added new drywall and replaced the old wood-burning fireplace with an electric one. “A good idea with small children in the house.”
The kitchen cabinets and drawers are lined in wood, and on the range side, the counter and sink is a single piece of seamless stainless steel. “So it’s completely food safe.”
He lowered the window to the counter and instead of having a low-level backsplash along that whole length, he added dramatic Calcutta marble from top to bottom. The large slab behind the six-burner Wolf range is magnificent. “Any marble will stain, but this is like a piece of art, and I like the fact that marble is a soft, natural stone. I like the visual impact.”
The couple has almost no upper cabinets, because of the views, and all the walls, cabinets, trim and ceiling are painted in decorator white, from Benjamin Moore.
The walkway between island and range is 1.2 metres wide. “It’s a killer size. You can get four or six people working here and not feel crowded. Almost every weekend, we have 10 to 20 family over,” he said, including his own three children.
In the main bathroom, he kept the fixtures where they were, but extended the counter from wall to wall and added a second sink. “I decided to make the cabinets floating because it’s a small room, and we added nine-by-36-inch tiles on the floor.”
So far, he is into the renovation for about $120,000, which also includes extending the entryway on the ground floor and adding a floating bench off a concrete planter.
“I like a neutral home, but my wife likes colour. She ordered some purple chairs for the living area, but when they came, they were hot pink, so she’s happy.”
Good has created close to 100 new kitchens, and has seven on the go now.
He started working with wood at age 16. When his shop teacher said he should think of a career in the area, he took the advice to heart. He first worked making fine furniture for a local company, but started his own business 10 years ago and now employs 14 people at his 6,000-square-foot shop in the Hillside area.