Feathered friends influential in 2023 People’s Choice Award

No chickens were on hand to accept the 2023 People’s Choice Award, but they deserve at least some credit for the win.

The prized All Things Home People’s Choice Award is part of the annual Housing Design Awards recently hosted by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association. The award is the only one for which the public votes and it sees a range of projects competing for top honours, from production and custom homes to renovations, kitchens, bathrooms and more.

This year’s winning entry, cheekily dubbed “Coop! There it is,” won the trophy after almost 6,000 members of the public cast ballots in seven rounds of voting online as well as at the Fall Home Show.


Created by Ottawa’s Eastboro Designs and Parliament Millwork of Gatineau, the project is a striking renovation of a farmhouse kitchen in Carp, including a concealed butler’s pantry as well as a new dining area with a commanding view of the homeowners’ beloved chicken coop.

The project, for which Gabro Contracting was the general contractor, was also a finalist in the overall awards for custom kitchen, 251 sq. ft. or more, traditional, $100,001 and over, John Laurysen Memorial Trophy.

This marks the third year in a row that a kitchen has won the People’s Choice Award.


“I was overwhelmed by the whole thing,” says Eastboro Designs’ Deirdre Jorssen about winning the 2023 People’s Choice Award. “It’s such a big honour.”

Blending farmhouse tradition and elegance

According to the award submission, the project goal was to create a new space that would maintain the character of the property — a traditional working farm — while including modern elements and a tasteful country esthetic. The homeowners particularly wanted to incorporate the adjacent, rarely used formal dining room into a more functional kitchen with extra elbow room and a better flow.

2023 People's Choice Award

Jorssen, who wanted the finished project to have an “elegant” feel, achieved those goals by reimagining the old U-shaped, apartment-size kitchen and separate dining room as an open-concept space. It includes a new picture window, floating shelves for the couple’s prized greenery that acts as an interior greenhouse, an oversized walnut island anchoring the space (with the nearby shelving and range hood made of the same wood), and a new, clearly defined dining area.


Shaker-style beadboard cabinets by Parliament Millwork, which also created the walnut island, amplify the traditional country theme with a touch of modern minimalism.

Overhead, new faux wood beams define the food preparation and eating areas of the kitchen and beadboard panelling between the beams echoes the pattern of the cabinetry. Gabro Contracting did the ceiling for the project.

For the backsplash, Jorssen chose glossy tiles with a herringbone pattern and slight texture. “You only notice the interesting pattern and texture when you’re up close, so it doesn’t distract from the rest of the design,” she says. “It’s what I call a ‘supporting actor.’” The backsplash also picks up and amplifies the natural light flooding the new space.


And, knowing the homeowners’ fondness for their fluffy Silkie and black Australorp chickens, Jorssen designed a cosy eating area with a tranquil, bay window view of the coop and the treed area behind it.

“For us, life can be hectic,” says homeowner Dorothy Shipley, adding that the table is a gathering place for the family. “So, to sit there and look out at the coop and to look at our new open space in the house, that’s calming.”

2023 People's Choice Award

A hidden delight

If the new kitchen and dining area are all about openness, there’s a hidden surprise behind what appear to be cabinet doors to the left of the refrigerator: a stunning butler’s pantry with a barrel-ceiling entry.


Featuring bold traditional wallpaper, rich, dark-green cabinets with a walnut frame, open shelves and its own window, the pantry includes ventilated storage drawers for root vegetables and space for canning and preserving.

And yes, the grillwork on those drawers is old-fashioned chicken wire. “The chicken theme just kind of took off on its own,” says Jorssen with a laugh.

Parliament Millwork’s Chris McClelland, a recent Gatineau transplant from Vancouver, suggested the unexpected barrel-entry design as a memorable transition from one space to another.


“I’m the new guy in town and trying to make waves,” he jokes. “Arches were very much in vogue when Deirdre and I were talking about the project, and if something makes people happy, even if it costs more and is a bit more opulent, then why not?”

Like Jorssen, McClelland was both delighted and astonished at winning the award. Not one to bury his feelings, he grabbed Jorssen in a bearhug on the way to the stage, lifting her high off her feet and whooping in delight.

“It was the last award of the night, and we didn’t expect it,” he says. “No one here knew who I was just 18 months ago. To actually get called up and win the award with Deirdre was just amazing.”


For Jorssen, winning the 2023 People’s Choice Award is not just a validation of her design acumen but also a sign that the public doesn’t always want a contemporary-themed home. The farmhouse kitchen and pantry she created “provides comfort and warmth, and over the last few years, with everything that’s been happening, people want comfort.”

About the Author

Patrick Langston All Things Home Ottawa homes

Patrick Langston

Patrick Langston is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and a veteran journalist. He has written widely about the Ottawa housing industry since 2008.



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