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Giving Back to Our Community – Dunara Homes for Recovery Receives a New Paragon Kitchen

Posted Nov 20, 2014

This spring, Paragon Kitchens had a unique opportunity to give back in a meaningful way to the Guelph community that has been our home for 30 years. We worked with Dunara Homes for Recovery, a local non-profit charitable organization that cares for the mental health community in Guelph and surrounding areas, to completely transform their communal kitchen. We turned the extremely worn-out, dysfunctional space into a bright, low-maintenance, efficient kitchen that is as practical as it is beautiful. The old kitchen's many years of use, both to prepare all the house meals and to teach basic cooking skills had brought out the shortfalls of the original design.

Dunara Homes for Recovery is located in one of the stately, century homes overlooking Gordon Street in Guelph.

Before: An Inefficient Kitchen

Yvonne Bowes, Executive Director of Dunara Homes for Recovery Inc. described the old kitchen best,“All of the appliances were on one side of the kitchen.  When people were preparing meals and someone wanted to use the microwave or obtain something in the fridge, the kitchen became very crowded, very quickly.  For some, this was very difficult as they don't appreciate people standing close to them.” She added, “We needed more counter work space and storage.” and the “kitchen had to be welcoming for individuals to want to learn and practice the basic skill of cooking.” The awkward layout necessitated placing items on top of the wall cabinets, giving the kitchen a look of perpetual disarray, and a movable storage cart had no “home” where it didn't interfere with any preparation spaces and was often underfoot. The battered old kitchen was clearly failing to meet Dunara's needs.

The old kitchen with its poor layout, tired-looking cabinetry, and lack of efficient storage, despite the appearance of having lots of doors.

Our Plan

Paragon set about designing a new space to fulfill Dunara's specific requirements. We removed the under-utilized second sink in favour of much needed counter space. We moved appliances for better balance and work flow and created storage space right up to the ceiling using hard-wearing but cost-effective new materials that would stand up to significant daily use.

Paragon provided the cabinetry at cost and cabinetry installation labour at no charge. We also coordinated timing with other trades to make the transition as brief and seamless as possible. As the new floors, drywall and cabinetry took shape, the kitchen did experience some down time, but much to Yvonne's relief, the residents and staff responded “extremely well”! She adds that the “staff were awesome and the residents understood that this was a process.  They enjoyed going out for a good lunch and then BBQ or had soup and sandwiches for supper.  They did not miss having to do dishes.”

Licensed trades working hard under the watchful eye of general contractor, Bruce Wyse (in yellow).

(Above) Drywalled and taped - ready for paint!

Before the new cabinetry was installed, the Dunara staff and residents were also engaged by writing their names and messages on the wall. Fortunately, we photographed them as they likely will not be seen again for a very long time!

A closer look at clients' and staff messages on the wall.

After: A More Welcoming Kitchen

After completing the kitchen, we asked Yvonne how the new kitchen was working for the Dunara residents and staff. She responded, “With more storage space we were able to remove the trolley that held the dish racks. This alone has increased the space in the kitchen. Cupboards going to the ceiling improved the look of the kitchen as "stuff" is not stored in plain sight. Increased working stations allows people to feel more comfortable; the new kitchen can easily be cleaned, and it's bright!”. She also canvassed the staff and residents for their input and their responses included, "bright, healthy, easy-to-use”,  "well-lit", "don't want to run away" [from doing dishes], "Thumbs up" and "Everything looks great!". When asked about favourite features of the new kitchen, Yvonne said,

“...there are so many new features that we are enjoying. The brightness of the kitchen, hidden garbage and dirty kitchen laundry cupboard, love the new floor, love the self-closure and how the appliances now balance the kitchen.”.

A simple and classic palette of black and white offset the more modern cabinetry style, chosen for its beauty AND durability. Full-height, flat panel white doors are hard-wearing, wipe down easily, and increase the kitchen's storage capacity. We added multiple drawers for more efficient storage - why reach in when items can be pulled out to you? Blum slides, soft close hinges, pull-out garbages and multiple drawer storage are standard in any Paragon kitchen, and Dunara's is no exception!
This kitchen was built to be enjoyed and utilized by the residents for many decades to come!

Learning More About Dunara

Paragon asked Yvonne about Dunara's important work in our community:

P: What can people do to help Dunara Homes and spread awareness?

Y: You know we are all touched by mental illness.  Somewhere in our circle of life we know someone who deals with mental illness every day.  People need to be comfortable talking about mental illness.  There is so much good and unfortunately the media only promotes the ugly.

Dunara is a non-profit organization that has a charitable number and can give income tax receipts for donations.  Donations allow Dunara to provide programming for individuals and opportunities that they would not otherwise have.  For example, we take a group of people camping each year for one week and for many, this is the only vacation/holiday they have.  Each year at the end of camp we are asked, “When is next year's?”. Donations also help us to do physical enhancements to our home.

Visit our website at 

P: How does Dunara help the Guelph community?

Y: Dunara provides many programs for the Guelph community.  We have the residential program for individuals with mental illness who require learning of basic life skills in order to live in the community.  We have two support groups each week that people return to Dunara to check in and socialize with others.  One group is a music group where individuals play their instruments or they will bring in their favourite CD and everyone with listen to their favourite song.  Wednesday group is a learning group, an outing which bowling is their favourite, a walk, picnic, movie - things that they don't usually do.  

We also have individual apartments throughout Guelph where individuals with a mental illness reside and a support Coordinator provides intensive support to assist them in maintaining their housing.

We also have three other homes where we do not receive any funding for, and we provide safe, affordable housing for 16 individuals.

We have two Crisis/Respite bed at Dunara which allows people who are experiencing a crisis a place where they can come, receive support, and where they are safe.


We would not be able to provide this service to Dunara without the help and support of our project partners. At one point or another, the following people devoted their time, expertise, labour and materials to this worthy cause.

Custom cabinetry: Miralis

Contracting: Bruce Wyse

Flooring & Backsplash: Bigelow Flooring

Plumbing: Halls Services (Dave Hall)

Electric: Greencor Electric Ltd

Our many thanks to Yvonne and Dunara Homes for presenting us with the opportunity to give back to our community. We hope the residents enjoy many, many years of cooking, learning, sharing and being a family in their Paragon kitchen!


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