VICTORIAâ€™S HOME & D E S I G N MAGAZINE
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IN THIS ISSUE
■ CUSTOM-BUILT FARMHOUSE
■ ARCHITECTURAL DREAM HOME
■ LUXURY ON THE SHORE
MODERN DAY LIGHTHOUSE
WEST COAST BEAUTIFUL
A HOUSE OF STONE AND SEA
This oceanside home blends industrial and farmhouse styles to redefine coastal living.
Perched on the windswept shore of East Sooke, this custom-built home embodies the West Coast dream life.
This custom home on Oak Bay’s waterfront is designed to easily pivot between hosting and family life.
B Y DANIELLE POPE
B Y ATHENA MCKENZIE
B Y SUSAN HOLLIS
A local design-build team gives an outdated condo a full-sized upgrade.
Not just beautiful, meadows are low maintenance and good for the environment.
When a fire destroys their retirement dream home, the owners focus on the positive and start over from scratch.
B Y NESSA PULLMAN
B Y DAVID LENNAM
FORM + FUNCTION
Exquisite interior details give this unique industrial farmhouse an elevated esthetic. Page 32
ON THE COVER
A NATURALIZED APPROACH TO LANDSCAPING
AFTER THE FIRE
B Y SUSAN HOLLIS
INCREDIBLE HOME WWW.INCREDIBLEHOME.CA
New Showroom CLOSETS â€¢ KITCHENS
IN THIS ISSUE
Our in-depth knowledge of the market and personalized strategies will put you in the best possible position when buying or selling a home in Victoria.
Properties in Victoria Professionals ™
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S PRUCE IT UP
The fall edit: design-forward ideas to bring home.
Sarah West and Bill Ethier The Real Estate Team You Trust for Life w: propertiesinvictoria.com I p: 250.920.7000 Personal Real Estate Corporation
Our in-depth knowledge of the market and personalized strategies will put you in the best possible position when buying or selling a home in Victoria.
Sensory design looks to counter the over stimulation of our modern world. B Y JENNIFER RUDOLPH
ASK THE EXPERT
Spruce looks to local luxury-home designer Keith Baker for his insights on the custom-home process. B Y ALEX VAN TOL
76 Sarah West* and Bill Ethier
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How to pick the perfect kitchen sink. B Y ATHENA McKENZIE
Create a beneficial relationship with your agent, whether you are buying or selling. B Y SHANNON MONEO
This monochromatic fireplace makes a modern statement.
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PUBLISHERS Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kerry Slavens EDITOR Athena McKenzie PRODUCTION MANAGER Jennifer Kühtz SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Amanda Wilson LEAD GRAPHIC DESIGNER Janice Hildybrant DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Jeffrey Bosdet
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COVER: Exquisite interior details give this unique industrial
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t’s not surprising that reclaimed wood is a highly sought-after material for home builds and renovations. It certainly delivers on quality and esthetics — just check out the singular look of the floors in our renovation feature “After the Fire” (page 70). But there is another more important reason why reclaimed wood has surged in popularity: Sustainability. This movement towards sustainability can be seen in advances in home-energy efficiency, material choices, interior décor and even landscape design. There’s something truly inspiring about incorporating sustainability and an eco-friendly mindset when creating one’s home. As home designer Keith Baker asks in the recent conversation with our writer (page 22), “How can we keep making houses and not wreck the planet?” One easy way to reduce the environmental impact of your home project is to consider its waste. (Construction, renovation and demolition accounts for 12 per cent of all solid waste in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.) The good news? Over 70 per cent can be recycled. By asking your builder not to demolish but to deconstruct, you can recover the materials for recycling and reuse. Locally, Habitat for Humanity Victoria’s ReStores will accept and resell quality new and used building materials, as well as furniture, appliances and home accessories. Everything from flooring and tile to appliances and bathtubs to door handles and light fixtures can find new life in someone else’s home project. “If it’s in good condition, we’ll take almost anything — including the kitchen sink! And if it won’t fit in your car, like that appliance or kitchen cabinet you just took out, we will come pick it up for free,” says Habitat for Humanity Victoria CEO Yolanda Meijer. “Proceeds from our ReStores fund 100 per cent of the charity’s operations and overhead, as well as contributing to our affordable homeownership program. This means all cash donations go directly into our home builds. You can feel good about keeping stuff out of the landfill and helping local low-income families.” Socially conscious and eco-friendly? As Meijer puts it, that’s a win-win.
SUSTAINABLE DESIGN FINDS
At this year’s Interior Design Show (IDS) in Vancouver, I’m excited to check out these sustainability-minded designers.
- CLIENTS NICK AND LEAH C.
In Full Bloom
Each piece from mth woodworks’ bloom collection is handcrafted in Vancouver using locally salvaged cedar. Coffee Table Style No. 33 has a pivoting table top that nearly doubles the usable surface.
Mexican designer Fernando Laposse created Totomoxtle — a colourful veneerlike biomaterial made with the husks of heirloom Mexican corn that would otherwise go to waste. Totomoxtle can be used in various applications for interiors and furniture, including wall tiling.
BRIGHT & PLAYFUL
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“I love the personality on display in this bright living space with its wonderful mix of textures. The small leather chairs in canyon orange, one of the hottest colours this year, and the dreamy white sofa all encircle the dynamic animalprinted cocktail ottoman. So much fun!” — ELAINE BALKWILL, LUXE DESIGNER
SPRUCE IT UP
The Fall Edit
DESIGN-FORWARD IDEAS TO BRING HOME
In a climate-controlled room, wall-mounted wine racks allow for proper storage and aging.
Neon Portrait I (left) and Green Fall II (below), both from Leftbank Art.
1 SANCTUARY OF LIGHT
Hate fumbling with the lights when nature calls during the night? New to the KOHLER Konnect product line is its Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which is fitted with adjustable LEDs and a motion-activated night light (and hermetically sealed speakers). And the KOHLER Veil Lighted Bathroom Collection is a mood lighting system that seamlessly connects the toilet, freestanding bath, mirror and three-piece vanity with personalized illumination. Find local retailers at kohler.ca
The first priority for your wine room should be determining how to maintain the right conditions — a controlled environment with constant temperature and humidity levels. When that’s figured out, you can focus on the more fun design decisions. This tasting room, designed by Chris Walker of Christopher Developments, with work by Hobson Woodworks, features floorto-ceiling wall-mounted display racks, an under-counter wine fridge, task and display lighting, and a custom live-edge stump tasting table designed by Walker. The board-formed concrete foundation wall acts as a backdrop, complementing the Italian concrete-finish porcelain tile. Project shown by Christopher Developments
ART OF THE MATTER
Whether your esthetic leans towards modern minimalism, the monochromatic, classic elegance or bold colours, artwork will help define the personality of your space. The No. 1 piece of advice for choosing the perfect wall art is to pick what you like. Much of Leftbank Art’s extensive collection is available in customsize options to make sure the artwork fits perfectly in your home. Leftbank Art is available locally through Luxe Home Interiors
THE GRAND ENTRY
A custom front door can make a dramatic first impression. “We recommend considering the practical and the esthetic, as well as the sustainability of materials,” says Aaron Stevenot of Karmanah Wood Design. “Things such as the species of wood, the properties of colour and grain, glass and metal hardware elements and the complex relationship between the entry door and the total design of the architecture and surrounding landscape.” Door shown by Karmanah Wood Design
CUSTOM HANDCRAFTED LIVE EDGE FURNITURE AND LUXURY WOODEN DOORS INSPIRED BY THE WEST COAST
Who says you can’t make time? LG TWIN Wash lets you wash two loads at the same time. Do a big load in the front-loading washer up top while the smaller LG SideKick unit simultaneously washes a second load down below. The SideKick offers six distinct cycles with a unique combination of wash motions (WaveForce, rubbing or swinging), water temperatures, rinse cycles and spin speeds that are ideally suited for different types of loads. It is perfect for special-care loads like delicates, hand washables and workout wear. Available through Lansdowne Appliance Gallery
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VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
250-213-2733 karmanahwooddesign.com COLOUR PALETTE
THE ORGANIC BEDROOM
If you’re concerned about the possibility of toxic mattress chemicals — such as polyurethane foam and fire retardants — choosing a mattress with organic components is the best way to avoid them. Right here, in its small factory in the Rock Bay neighbourhood of Victoria, Fawcett uses natural materials, such as 100 per cent natural Oeko-tex standard 100 Latex rubber foam, and organic wool, cotton and hemp for its furniture and mattresses. Available through fawcettmattress.com
MISE EN PLACE
Unlike the open-concept, walk-in closets of the past, current designs favour organization with a sanctuary-like calm. “Like we saw with bathrooms, spa-like features are moving into closets,” says Ted Hancock of Incredible Home. “People want relaxing, nicely adorned and functional closets, not just a place to hang clothes. It’s the spa closet.” Key aspects include motion-sensor lighting, whisper-quiet doors and a dedicated space for everything. Closet shown by Incredible Home
Joyful colour in the forecast
ASK / DUSTIN
From sophisticated jewel tones to playful brights to subtle shades reminiscent of sea, sand, forest and sky, upcoming colour trends look to channel joy and serenity. The Sherwin Williams 2020 Color Forecast includes 45 different hues, divided into five themes.
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A unique fusion of iconic modern design with an “intergenerational boho vibe,” these colours are a meditation on comfort, connection and the pleasures found in the everyday. Colours include (left to right) Coral Clay, Verde Marrón, Likeable Sand and Original White.
Influences for this inspirational palette include optimism, authenticity and the southwest, and its tones are meant to evoke a sense of community and well-being. Colours include (left to right) deep blue Naval and Ripe Olive, paired with “nurturing neutrals,” such as Sandbank and Touch of Sand.
Dustin Miller, Managing Broker 8X Ventures Inc.
Nordic simplicity meets the order and elegance of Japanese esthetics within this minimalistic and serene palette. These softly muted neutrals include (top to bottom) Breathless, Mystical Shade, Software and Spatial White.
ENGLISH palette features richly subtle shades of sea, sand, forest and sky, including (top to bottom) Acacia Haze, Beige Instenso, Perle Noir and Stardew.
If I had a flower for every time I thought of you... I could walk through my garden forever ~ Alfred Tennyson
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n a culture that demands more and more from us, forcing us to be continually connected and overstimulated, there are interior designers embracing a counter movement. These designers understand the importance of designing intentional spaces that keep us connected to our bodies and maintain metacognition (an awareness of our thinking); a challenge in today’s world, where we rely more and more on technology to think for us. Most of us living and working in a city experience an overload to our systems, through technology, increasing population numbers, the fast pace and other environmental factors. The philosophy behind sensory design is to keep our senses engaged but balanced, so that we are regulated and calm — in contrast to being overstimulated, unfocused and in a state of dysregulation. We can achieve this balanced state through sensory integration, the things we process through sight, sound, smell, touch and movement. Sensory integration speaks to how our senses relate to our environment and experiences. For example, furniture that offers compression gives the body proprioceptive input — awareness of one’s body in space — and is deeply regulating and calming to one’s nervous system.
SOOTHE THE SENSES So how can we bring sensory integration into our homes? Designers are coming up with options from colour-spectrum mood lighting, sensory integration furniture, bringing nature into the home and using natural building materials. Green walls, once considered novelties of the design world for commercial settings, are finding their way into homes. Living walls are as esthetically impactful as they are functional, sustaining a healthy environment. Along with purifying the air, the benefits range from dampening noise and reducing the ambient temperature to increasing productivity and offering a sense of wellbeing to creating a natural fire-resistant layer.
BY JENNIFER RUDOLPH
Overstimulation in the world at large has led to a counter movement in interior design. Creating mindful sensory spaces — using natural materials, tactile design, ergonomic furniture and mood lighting — regulates our nervous systems and brings calm to our frenetic lives.
1 Create a calming effect with a green wall from Vertical Oxygen. 2 The lujo bean bag was designed to maximize relaxation and stand up to the wear and tear of daily life. 3 Ronel Jordaan’s playful rock cushions add touchable texture to your space. 4 The weighted blanket from rocabi comes with interchangable covers to make it usable all year round. 5 The Era rocking chair from Normann Copenhagen has a uniquely calming effect. 6 Bring soothing curves and a dimmable LED light source into your home with the FLOS Copycat table lamp
Hemp drywall is a versatile and natural option that can be shaped into any structure, giving the option of curves and contemporary forms. Made from a mixture of hemp hurd and hydraulic lime and water, it offers incredible natural insulation, resists fire and mould and eliminates the need for a gypsum vapour barrier, leaving you with no plastic in your walls. Sensory integration chairs gives us awareness of our bodies in space, making them deeply regulating and calming. In addition, the sensory integration experienced by the feeling of compression helps us to organize our brains in matters of focus and concentration. Weighted blankets can also reduce anxiety and promote better sleep. Swings, hammocks and chairs with rocker bases all stimulate our vestibular systems. While the sense of movement is not usually considered in the category of senses, it is vital to our ability to organize and calm ourselves. The new
Sensory integration feels good for everyone. designs are modern, with a hint of the futuristic, and give a large dose of intuitive grounding, resulting in a cascade of good feelings to our nervous systems and minds. Texture and tactile inputs can also help with focus and soothing anxiety. Bring in touchfriendly elements, such as textural throw pillows, rugs and wall coverings. Lighting has more of an impact on our everyday lives than we might realize — and it can be mood-enhancing and calming. Options range from Himalayan rock salt lamps (which some believe emit neutralizing ions into the air) to colourspectrum LED lights, which can mimic natural light very closely. This emphasis on a meaningful connection to our homes can help us thrive in this frenetic world. By creating more grounded natural environments, we can escape the on-the-go urban lifestyle and thrive.
Sensory design originates from traditional occupational therapies, which often focus on children with autism and sensory processing issues who require limiting intense sensory stimulation. Sensory integration helps everyone to organize our brains in matters of focus and concentration. Many international designers, such as Deborah DiMare, founder of DiMare Design in Miami, are taking a sensory approach for their projects. For this family home shown above, DiMare used all cruelty-free elements and combined specific textures and colours to create an optimal environment for the family’s sensory needs.
ASK THE EXPERT
BY ALEX VAN TOL
THEORY OF DESIGN
ACHIEVING YOUR DREAM CUSTOM HOME TAKES SOME BIG-PICTURE THINKING — AND KEEPING AN OPEN MIND. Spruce looks to local luxuryhome designer Keith Baker for his insights on the custom-home process, from site optimization and energy efficiency to sustainable design.
orn and raised in Victoria, internationally recognized home designer Keith Baker actually started his career as a professional musician. But the dog-eat-dog Los Angeles scene didn’t appeal, so he ditched it for something a little more soulful. He discovered a beautiful knack for woodworking while helping a realtor renovate houses in Monterey, and followed his passion to become a ticketed cabinetmaker. When he returned to the Island, Baker reconnected with a friend from his music days — Grant Gislason, who by then owned Vintage Hot Tubs. Gislason put him in front of clients needing wood elements designed for their high-end backyard decks and retreats. The rest is history. Now heading up renowned KB Design, Baker has been designing locally and internationally for 38 years. He specializes in luxury residential homes and brings a distinct environmental consciousness to his design work.
Be open-minded. That’s a good place to start. Some people don’t have all the answers of how they want it to go together; they just know it needs to feel this way, and they need this number of rooms. And some people are very specific and very prescriptive — that’s actually harder. I encourage people to have an open mind in terms of the home showing
JEFFREY BOSDET/SPRUCE MAGAZINE
What should people know before they embark on a custom home build?
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KB Design’s Gen 4 project is thus named because the land has been home to four generations of the same family. This custom build, which replaced the existing home, includes a completely private suite for the oldest generation. The exterior of the home features corten steel around the entryway column — which houses a stairwell wrapped around an elevator shaft — acrylic stucco and aluminum siding. Along with their modern esthetic, each of these materials is durable and low maintenance.
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up perhaps even better than they can imagine. Allow the design process to unfold in a positive way, rather than having tunnel vision about how you think it should go or what you think you have to have. Understanding the process means you move, take another step and then you find out, “Oh, there’s another question I need to ask.” It is iterative. It isn’t a straight line from A to B.
What are the best ways to work with a project site and its qualities? What I do is deeply consider how you actually operate in terms of flow. How do you arrive? How do you get from your car and bring your groceries in and how does that work when you’re on this three-dimensional place? The simple answer is to listen to the land. You need to be able to understand not just what its shape is, but how it actually is going to serve the needs as requested by the client. Not everybody wants the sun to come up in their master bedroom. Some people need it. All those practical things are a big part of the result of paying attention and listening to the land.
How can one increase the sustainability of their home?
It’s like Blue Jeans for Your Countertops
“... HOW CAN WE KEEP MAKING HOUSES AND NOT WRECK THE PLANET?”
Sustainability for houses means, how can we keep making houses and not wreck the planet? You always want the least amount of energy consumption with the smallest footprint. Sustainability also means — to me — do it right, once. It may cost a little bit more, but in the big picture, it doesn’t make sense to pay twice and have the hassle [of replacing cheap components]. I always encourage my clients to make sure they do all the big stuff as best they can afford, and really consider where the money gets spent. There’s an awful lot of emphasis on [stuff ] ... I’ll just use granite counters as sort of the epitome of “stuff.” Not that that’s a bad thing, but everybody had to have granite counters for a while there, right? The granite counter became more important than having windows that were going to last and never having to be replaced. That’s what I mean about priorities. There’s an esthetic too. If you do something wild and crazy, you’re going to have a harder time selling it to the next person. If somebody buys the house, and then they’re going to throw [an undesirable esthetic element] away, are we being sustainable?
How do you increase energy efficiency? It’s plugging holes, really. The Step Code that’s coming down the chute for everybody is all about energy efficiency, and the way to have energy efficiency is to not need the heat in the first place. It’s like putting a sweater on. We actually put outsulation [insulation on the outside] on all of our buildings. Over the last number of years, science has identified what they call a thermal bridge between every stud. You’ve got a place where all the heat inside your house wants to escape because heat will always go to cold to stabilize itself. That thermal bridge goes away when you put an insulative blanket around the house.
How does your background as a cabinetmaker influence your home designs?
The corner window in the kitchen offers sweeping views over Haro Strait. For a unique touch, interior designer Lorin Turner of Zebra Interiors chose a pop of blue on the island. The main living area opens directly out onto a deck through floor-to-ceiling sliding doors. This extends the usable living area, as the home’s placement makes the deck very private. Narrow vertical windows between the mirrors in the bathroom maintain privacy but give a glimpse of the view and let in lots of natural light.
PHOTOS: VINCE KLASSEN
The evidence would be in the little details: how a roof returns around a corner; the proportions involved; how all the bits and parts of the house actually interrelate. If you’re building a cabinet or a piece of furniture, it’s just as important to consider materials, proportion, scale, texture, line. All the things that apply to design apply to whether it’s a sideboard or a house. What we find from builders who build our houses and from officials who review our plans, the comments that we get are how clear and buildable what we design actually is, because we actually understand all that. It’s not a theory. It’s a part of my experience.
FORM + FUNCTION A LOCAL DESIGN-BUILD TEAM GIVES AN OUTDATED CONDO A FULL-SIZED UPGRADE.
BY NESSA PULLMAN
PHOTOS BY GEOFF HOBSON
ost condo renovations go as far as switching out cabinets and updating light fixtures — but when two ready-to-settle-down homeowners decided to stay in their condo rather than buy a house, they were determined to do what was needed to create their forever home. They reached out to local design-build firm MAC Renovations to tackle the challenge. “The building was created in the early 90s,” says Blaise McDonald, project manager at MAC. “The place was tired, the homeowners were ready to bring it up to speed to match their taste and lifestyle.” The first order of business was addressing the awkward zoning. The original layout had the kitchen confined behind the fireplace and the dining room isolated in a separate room away from the working areas. “It’s a small condo,” says Azucena Saavedra, interior designer at MAC. “And having all those unnecessary walls made it feel even smaller.”
STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES McDonald knew that removing the wall that supported the fireplace would be a huge challenge — and relocating it would be another. After removal, the team had to find a place to store the ventilation, whose location was fixed because of the condo’s fire-stopping regulations. Through collaborative thinking, the homeowners and the construction team came up with the idea to install the stovetop on the new island, and use the existing ventilation output to run the new hood fan. “It was a big challenge rewiring the ventilation to accommodate the stovetop instead of the fireplace,” says McDonald. “But it was a clever fix.” The scheme was near perfect except for one piece: storing the ventilation and electrical which ran down from the ceiling. Instead of having a plain beam take centre stage in the space, Saavedra designed a floor-to-ceiling storage unit in Burma teakwood to disguise the structural requirement and add in a decorative focal point.
“MIXING SEVERAL WOODS CAN EASILY OVERWHELM A SPACE — ESPECIALLY ONE OF THIS SIZE.”
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www.cruiseshipcenters.com/Sidney Providing easy access to the dining room from the kitchen was a big priority for the homeowners in the new layout. Moving the fireplace to the centre of the room created an effective divider and allows easy maneuvering between the two rooms. The designer kept the new fireplace clean and uncluttered for a harmonious placement, with a painted drywall exterior and a simple wood mantel that doubles as storage for electronics.
Mt. Doug (250) 477 4877 4089A Shelbourne Street, Victoria
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“The homeowners wanted a modern design with rustic masculine elements — and wood. Lots of wood,” Saavedra says with a laugh. “One of the first materials the homeowners purchased was the acacia wood flooring that runs throughout the entire condo. The homeowners were already planning to incorporate most of their existing furniture — which happened to be 90 per cent wood — when they made the purchase. “At first I was concerned,” says Saavedra. “Mixing several woods can easily overwhelm a space — especially one of this size.” The designer worked around this by applying off-white wall paint throughout and adding in a mix of white millwork to help balance the rich tones. She then compared various woods and stains to see what would flow together. “We had to bring pieces of wood around with us everywhere,” Saavedra recalls. “And once we narrowed it down, I created 3D renderings to see how the different tones would look together once installed.” To maintain a modern esthetic against the rustic materials, Saavedra paired slabstyle cabinetry with contemporary brushed nickel hardware and plumbing fixtures in the kitchen. A dual-toned backsplash and a smokey-grey quartz countertop add texture to the sleek surfaces. A decorative openshelving unit was placed above the sink to
Constructing an open-concept kitchen allowed the homeowners to have the large-scale island they wanted for cooking and entertaining. Wood veneer painted in Benjamin Moore’s Dove White makes up most of the kitchen’s millwork, while Blum’s Aventos touch-latch cabinets hang above the sink. Puck lighting in the ceiling takes the place of island pendants and allows the oversized Tornado Island hood fan by Ancona to act as the focal point. Task lighting lines the underside of the upper cabinets and emphasizes the textured backsplash. The designer positioned accent lighting in the open shelving unit above the sink to highlight the Burma teakwood and showcased art pieces.
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add contrast against the minimalist backdrop and to harmonize with the wood details throughout the home. The walls were kept uncluttered [throughout the dining and living area] leaving the homeowners’ intricate wood furniture to shine. A geometric pendant from Mclaren Lighting floats above the rustic dining table — maintaining the contemporary feel the homeowners were seeking. The new fireplace (now gas) was placed off to the corner to tie together the three main rooms — allowing the space to remain open, bright and functional.
ALL IN THE PLANNING When preparing for a renovation in a condo, McDonald says that the crucial first step is to clear your plans with your strata. Once you’ve got your approvals, you will need to find a reliable build firm, and together you will tackle the next crucial step: clearing it with the city.
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Many of the new materials were sourced by the homeowners, who had a pretty clear idea of what they wanted to bring in to conform with their existing furniture, such as the couch, coffee table and dining table. Though they kept the original location of the dining room, the designer removed the awkward walls (which contained interior windows) that confined the small room, and placed a large pendant above the table to tie the formal eating space together.
Design 3D renderings, conceptual planning and permit drawings
Build Full-service construction company “In a condo renovation, the longest piece is getting the plans and approvals,” says McDonald. “Once that’s complete, you can start breaking ground, and then it’s just clockwork.” McDonald says about 60 per cent of the timeline is spent preplanning, because once you’re on site you want things completed as smoothly and timely as possible. “When you’re in a condo, you have to account for numerous restrictions that houses don’t have,” says McDonald. “Like noise-complaints, working hours and product deliveries that need to be brought in and out by hand.” Of course, the end result should make the challenges worth it. While this renovation was not the typical scale for a condo, thoughtful pre-planning made for a full-size upgrade that the condo’s owners will enjoy for years to come.
â– CUSTOM-BUILT FARMHOUSE
MODERN DAY LIGHTHOUSE THIS OCEANSIDE HOME BLENDS INDUSTRIAL AND FARMHOUSE STYLES TO REDEFINE COASTAL LIVING. BY DANIELLE POPE
PHOTOS BY TONY COLANGELO
n a wooded peninsula in Saanich, a country road runs down a hill, away from the area’s busy streets. Further down this secluded drive, there is a remote bridge few get the chance to cross. The gentle clunk of car tires over its slats is the sound of homecoming for the property’s residents. Arriving at the house offers a breathtaking vista over the water from the land’s end. Designer Ryan Hoyt of Ryan Hoyt Designs calls this home The Lighthouse. Perched on one of the most easterly points of Vancouver Island, and with 280-degree views of the Strait of Georgia, this modernindustrial farmhouse stands like a beacon amid rock and sea. The project demanded creative ingenuity to work around serious environmental considerations and an amalgamation of styles. The result is as spectacular as the scenery itself. “We wanted this project to capture the magnificent space the home sits on,” says Hoyt. “It’s an experience just to be on the property, and, with that kind of nature on your doorstep, you want it at the foreground.”
WORKING WITH THE LAND The one-acre lot was created in an L-shape and, due to protections surrounding the rock, the house had to be built below its jagged edge. Hoyt sculpted the home in a way that fit in with the environment, which involved building the 6,100-square-foot house entirely above ground and vaulting both levels. “This project was a really good example of working with the land and honouring what features were already there, as opposed to trying to make it into something it wasn’t,” says Hoyt. “We had to be as intentional as possible with the space.”
This stately house faces the West Coast weather with Hardie board fibre-cement siding in a vertical board-and-batten style. Horizontal yellow cedar planks act as a modern accent, having been treated for low maintenance, long-term aging to create a natural patina. The standing seam metal roof, in Weathered Zinc by Top Line Roofing, offers a resilience to sea salt and wind, while the home’s generous blackframed windows create perfect viewpoints for sunsets and storms.
“THIS PROJECT WAS A REALLY GOOD EXAMPLE OF WORKING WITH THE LAND AND HONOURING WHAT FEATURES WERE ALREADY THERE ...”
Above: While most of the flooring in this home is concrete, the living room and kitchen have a wide-plank floor whose custom look involved combining three different styles of wood, then staining, burning, brushing and cross-sawing the planks individually before combining them into a unified floor. The effort was necessary to ensure safety with in-floor heating. Jute area rugs build upon the casual coastal esthetic, while the set-up in this open concept area conveys the homeownersâ€™ love of entertaining.
Despite the prominence of land in this project, the home itself exudes modern grandeur. With exquisite interior details, floorto-ceiling windows and doors, a custom wine room and a 28-foot wood-burning fireplace, this four bedroom, three-and-a-half bath “farmhouse” is a new take on old shape lines. When the homeowners first saw the site, they knew this was the place where they would build their dreams. However, with teenage children, a dog and competing design styles, coming to a consensus was an evolution. Mari O’Meara, principal designer with Mari Kushino Designs, helped the family find the balance between their desires and needs. “He really liked the industrial-modern look, and she loved a more natural, cozy farmhouse style. Fusing those together and making sure we had a bit of both throughout the house was really important,” says O’Meara. “The result is quite unique.”
MODERN MEETS RUSTIC In order to bridge the two styles, the home contains glazed black steel and modern finishings throughout the house, from glass and chrome to concrete. The lines are clean, and décor is simple. However, it also has homey elements, from the Moroccan tile backsplash above the stove to the antique brass hardware, custom distressed wideplank hardwood floors and a statement farmgreen laundry area. The home also has practical elements, like an oversized kitchen with twin islands for a family that loves to cook, resilient porcelain countertops and durable floors that will withstand traffic. A wind-protected outdoor barbecue area is perfect for entertaining, and the master bedroom is made for mini “getaways,” with a full view of the water and a pop-up TV at the foot of the bed. The house is also a smart home, with everything from
Above: The fireplace and staircase represent two of the most complex accomplishments of this build. The concrete hearth was poured and completed after the building was in place, and the black frame and hidden log storage racks were hand-finished with black-painted sandblasted steel to create a patina look. Left: The modern black steel staircase may look clean and simple, but this structure was created by sandblasting 4,000 pounds of crushed glass over exposed steel, then quickly handpainting Black Magic Patina by Sculpt Nouveau (traditionally used as an artistâ€™s oil compound) over the base before it could rust. The steps, rails and beams were then finished with a clear lacquer.
“IT’S INCREDIBLE TO WORK ON A PROJECT OF THIS SCALE AND WATCH IT COME TOGETHER.”
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The best in wood and gas heating appliances This kitchen showcases subtle adornment amid its dark modern cabinetry. The cupboard pulls are one-of-a-kind, hand-forged brass (purchased on Etsy). The stove’s accent backsplash is handmade Moroccan mosaic cement tile, sourced by the homeowner, and the antique brass Easton Gooseneck faucet on the island was specially purchased from the U.K. Haleigh glass dome pendants by Rejuvenation add simple elegance.
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light and temperature to an intercom system, controllable through the family’s smartphones.
A GRAND SCALE The home’s oversized features fit well within the grand space. The fireplace takes special prominence, and for a good reason — this element was brought in after the design was complete, meaning builders had to pour the concrete hearth through a hole in the roof, amid valuable finished elements. With hidden log storage, it’s as practical as it is impressive. “It’s incredible to work on a project of this scale and watch it come together. Some phases can pose a real challenge because working with steel and concrete requires a lot of predetermination,” says Josh McCulloch, finishing foreman with Falcon Heights Contracting. “Some modern homes appear simple, but it’s hard to pull off a house that looks seamless and beautiful, and it was a huge win to see this one turn out the way it did.”
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The “farmhouse” windows in this home have black powder-coated aluminum frames, creating a modern showcase for the surrounding oceanic scenery. The master bed features a fully automated built-in TV lift, made by Jason Good Custom Cabinets, that can be raised or lowered through one of the smart home’s apps.
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The guest bathroom offers an impressively private view of the ocean to complement a full walkin window shower. The simplicity of a seamless, heated concrete floor, clean lines and black-framed windows pair with the round, oil-rubbed bronze mirror by Rejuvenation to turn this room into a coastal spa.
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Above: The temperaturecontrolled wine room was a wish list item for this home, and includes the modern-window motif. Right: The laundry room offers its own farmhouse touch, painted in Webster Green by Benjamin Moore, with handmade Moroccan mosaic cement tile flooring.
Tours | Corporate Events | Weddings | Tasting Bar | Bistro RESOURCES DESIGNER: Ryan Hoyt Designs CONSTRUCTION MANAGER AND FINISHING CARPENTRY: Falcon Heights Contracting ENGINEERS: Skyline Engineering CUSTOM, KITCHEN AND BATHROOM MILLWORK: Thetis Cove Joinery HARDWOOD FLOORS: Wide Plank Hardwood [Chilliwack, B.C.] COUNTERTOPS: Stone Age Marble & Granite LANDSCAPE AND PAVING: Integral Design + Build TILE: Island Floor Centre DOORS AND HARDWARE: Complete Windows [exterior]; Slegg Door Shop [interior painted]; Jim Barker, Barker Manufacturing [interior barn doors] WINDOWS: Complete Windows
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â– ARCHITECTURAL DREAM HOME
WEST COAST BEAUTIFUL
PERCHED ON THE WINDSWEPT SHORELINE OF EAST SOOKE, THIS CUSTOM-BUILT HOME EMBODIES THE WEST COAST DREAM LIFE. BY ATHENA McKENZIE
PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE
t would be fair to call it love at first sight: Lorraine Tao and Doug Thoms were celebrating their one-year anniversary with a road trip around Vancouver Island when they first saw the property that would eventually be their home. “From our room at Sooke Harbour House, the patio looked out across the harbour to where we live now essentially,” Tao says. “We’re from Toronto, and I remember sitting there, saying, ‘It’s so romantic and beautiful,’ with its undeveloped rocky shore.” Serendipity had a role to play too. Months later, back in Ontario, the couple happened across an ad in the The Globe and Mail for the very land that had captured their imagination. “We knew we’d better go have a look,” Thoms says. “It was perfect timing financially, and we were thinking long term about where we wanted to live our lives. We knew we wanted it to be on the ocean.”
“IT’S GOT ALL THIS VISUAL ROMANCE FOR US. COLD DAYS IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE ARE THE BEST.” — Lorraine Tao, homeowner
For the approach to the house, the garage door was designed to be invisible and look like a wall until the garage is opened. The inviting main floor has matte-oiled oak hardwood and a Rumford wood-burning fireplace with a basalt-tile surround.
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IT WAS IMPORTANT TO THE HOMEOWNERS THAT THE HOUSE HAVE AN ARCHITECTURAL LOOK WITH WELL-THOUGHT-OUT LINES, CAREFUL ANGLES AND BEAUTIFUL REVEALS.
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That didn’t mean jumping into the purchase. The couple returned to the Island and looked at other properties, extending their search to French Beach and Metchosin. But an afternoon spent exploring the East Sooke lot and its beach sold them on its potential. “There was nothing really comparable in our opinion,” Tao says. “Its natural beauty and its striking distance to Victoria — a great little city with lots of amenities, including an international airport — and the short distance to amazing hiking and surfing. It’s just perfectly situated here.”
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Initially, building a home on the property was going to be a “down-the-road” part of the couple’s 10-year plan. But within two years of purchasing, they knew they wanted to move up their West Coast dream life, so they started researching architects. After two days interviewing potential partners in Vancouver, the couple settled on David Battersby and Heather Howat of BattersbyHowat Architects — the first firm they met and with whom they hit it off instantly. “The fun thing about this project was that they had a very romantic idea of living on the West Coast, with the big fireplace and living off the land “Battersby says. It was important to the homeowners that the house have an architectural look with well-thought out lines, careful angles and beautiful reveals.
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Accommodating the couple’s extensive book collection was also a factor in the design. To ascertain the necessary space, the architect used the total linear-feet that the books took up and spread that over built-in shelves along the staircase and in floor-to-ceiling shelves in Thoms’s art studio downstairs.
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Perched above a small cove in Sooke, the house offers breathtaking views of Juan De Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains. In a nod to the surroundings, the cedar on the house’s exterior was treated with bleaching oil to make it resemble driftwood. Halfway down to the beach, there’s a small deck with a corten steel fire bowl and Loll Designs Adirondack-style loungers, which are made from recycled plastic. The deck was an anniversary present from Tao’s parents. “From our first visit to the property, we knew we wanted to do something in this spot, even if it was just a bench,” Tao says.
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“We were marinating in Dwell magazine and are just big fans of architecture — especially modern architecture and design,” Thoms says. “They came to us knowing our esthetic,” Battersby says. “We’re always looking to do something as quiet as we can from an architectural standpoint — not too imposing and difficult. Those are the kinds of things that define our projects and the approach to their house as well.” Given the property’s location on a steeply graded piece of oceanfront land, there were various challenges, including the lot shape, its easements and drainage and the watershed. The home also needed to be resilient in the face of winter storms. “It’s a complicated little lot because it’s kind of dog-legged, it’s got a bunch of easements and it’s also a bit wedged-shaped,”
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Above: The architectural blueprints from BattersbyHowat show how the house needed to fit into the steeply graded oceanfront property.
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Below: Along with white quartz on the island, the kitchen has stainless steel for the wall-side counter. “It’s the best for cooking,” Thoms says. “We had it in Toronto and asked for it here.” Directional pendant fixtures from Tech Lighting provide task lighting in the kitchen and in Thoms’s studio.
Opposite: The lower floor, which houses the master and guest bedrooms and Thoms’ studio, was finished with polished concrete floors. The master bedroom and ensuite feature built-in wall closets, a two-person jetted tub and a walkout private deck that is sheltered by the wing wall of the house. “When we return from travelling and get home to that, it feels really special,” Thoms says.
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Thoms says. “It presented an interesting problem, but David [Battersby] saw what we wanted almost immediately. He did a drawing on a piece of tracing paper, and now it’s the house that we live in, which is pretty amazing to us still.”
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A VIEW TO NATURE The three-bedroom, three-bathroom home boasts breathtaking views of Juan De Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains from all the main rooms, including the professionalgrade kitchen. “We used the garage and the body of the house as a sort of shield to fence off the view from the approach to the house, so it only becomes apparent when you come through the house,” Battersby says. “There’s a big reveal when you get inside.” While both Tao and Thoms work from home, they consider it a retreat from the world. Thoms is the cook in the family and the kitchen is his favourite spot, its layout allowing him to be a part of the action in the great room as he puts together meals. The great room is also Tao’s first choice. “It is so bright and the view of the ocean is right there,” she says. “You look out the other window, and it is all forested, and it’s just a great environment to work in. It feels so bright. We have nooks everywhere that give you positive feelings.” That sensibility is built into the very design of the home, which Battersby choreographed from the entry sequence. “I like the idea that you shed your worldly self when you enter into a house,” he says. “I really love that kind of experience, and this is something that we always try to think about: How does that play out in terms of your experience in the space? And I think in this house it plays out really nicely.”
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■ LUXURY ON THE SHORE
A HOUSE OF STONE AND SEA A PRIVATE HOME ON OAK BAY’S WATERFRONT IS DESIGNED TO PIVOT EASILY BETWEEN HOSTING AND FAMILY LIFE.
BY SUSAN HOLLIS PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE
ontemporary architecture often blurs the boundaries between the natural and humanmade, embracing an ideology that invites surrounding landscapes to be as much a part of a house as its roof and walls. It is a fitting style for a home situated on a private beach on the protected bay housing the picture-perfect sailboats of the Oak Bay Marina, where running parallel to the shoreline is the Salomon/Robinson residence — a wide, 7,300-square-foot, 2.5-storey structure of cedar, stone and steel that boasts more windows than can be counted in one breath. And at this new atmospheric residence of lawyer Charlotte Salomon, her husband Chris Robinson and their two daughters, Jenna and Bree, the entirety of the expansive, 180-degree ocean view is captured by the crisp, contemporary lines that do everything to accentuate the house’s ideal geography. But that same geography made bringing this dream house to life a long, and often arduous bureaucratic process. “Certainly the challenge on the design side were the restrictions in the zoning,” says the home’s architect, Peter de Hoog of dHKarchitects. “At the end of the day, these things become a shoehorn because everybody wants as much space as they can get, and you want to be able to make it all work. Getting all of that working was probably the biggest challenge, and luckily it was a big site.”
Above: Exterior overhangs give striking lines to the outside of the modern home and also provide some shading. Situated in the sunny southeast corner of the lot and sheltered by the house, the pool is kept at a perfect 84 degrees and is used daily by Chris Robinson, year round. Left: Inside, to soften the effect of the concrete shear walls, the home boasts generous stretches of dry stacked, grout-free Valdes Island stone by Bedrock Natural Stone in Vancouver.
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Having combed the South Oak Bay neighbourhood he grew up in for years, Robinson requested to view the property they would come to buy the day it hit the market. When it was time to build, a laborious permitting process began — one that lasted 15 months due to municipal guidelines relating to delicate riparian (waterfront) zones. The house needed to respect the protected shoreline setback of 15 meters and conform to build elevations relative to projected rising sea levels. Designing and building the seismically sound house in this location required the involvement of a biologist, and geotechnical, mechanical, structural and envelope building engineers. One of the key challenges of the fivebedroom house —which with three floors is an ample amount of room for a family of four — was to create an atmosphere that transitioned from comfortable family home to a fundraising space that fits up to 100 guests for the family’s regular philanthropic and volunteer efforts. To soften the main floor’s great room, which blends kitchen, dining room and living room under lofty 11-foot ceilings and a massive, curtain wall of windows, the couple chose a rich, soft-to-touch engineered walnut for the cabinetry and flooring, and included in-floor radiant heat to complement the home’s passive solar energy collection. Flush to the wall, Fry Reglet baseboards run the length of the room, balanced above by a custom light shelf, running between the automated upper clerestory windows and the room’s huge main window panels. The shelf, essentially a long, walnut panel running the length of the room, glows with gentle light from beneath and does double duty as storage for the window’s hidden automated blinds.
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“The biggest thing between traditional and contemporary is that a lot of the effort that goes into contemporary you don’t see,” says Mark Whitney of Novus Properties, which led the build. “The idea is that it all disappears — you don’t see the steel structures that hold the floating countertop or the floating mantle, but there’s quite a bit of planning and lighting built into those. It’s a lot of work.” To ensure flow when the family hosts larger events, a highly functional catering kitchen was tucked behind a custom walnut door just off the main kitchen. Previous residences had taught Salomon that a separate prep space is worth its weight in gold. “Everyone likes a kitchen party, and everyone is always in the kitchen. So it’s hard to have a functional kitchen with caterers working in it, if all the guests want to be in it too, so we built a kitchen for the caterers,” she says. “When the caterers aren’t here, it’s my baking kitchen.”
“[WITH CONTEMPORARY DESIGN] THE IDEA IS THAT IT ALL DISAPPEARS — YOU DON’T SEE THE STEEL STRUCTURES THAT HOLD THE FLOATING COUNTERTOP OR THE FLOATING MANTLE, BUT THERE’S QUITE A BIT OF PLANNING AND LIGHTING BUILT INTO THOSE.”
In the kitchen, a durable, natural wire-brushed quartzite counter from Colonial Countertops wraps the ample island and surrounding surface areas. Large swathes of wall are covered with an elegant marble mosaic tile from Olympia Tile + Stone. For contrast, the vertical grain walnut cabinets by Thomas Philips Woodworking are stained a darker shade than the floor — an engineered flat cut walnut laid to highlight the variety in the wood. These design attributes carry over into the separate walk-in prep space, which is used by caterers.
Clockwise from left: The open riser staircase ascends and descends to the three levels of the house beside a large, front-of-house window, which allows light to penetrate down the stairwell to the full height basement level. Flanked by Valdes Island stone, the surrounding walls are coated in Venetian plaster, which was used on the concrete walls to provide a softer textured finish. The allwood stairs were engineered without a centre metal riser to reduce vibration and noise. The sheer size of the living room made a custom sectional a must, so Nygaard worked with KL Design Furniture to create the enormous U-shaped sectional that was jokingly dubbed “The Pit” for its luxurious comfort and tendency to trap anyone who dares sit on its sumptuous comfort. A custom light shelf under the automated upper clerestory windows offers an ambient glow on grey days and hides the room’s automated blinds. In the entry floor-to-ceiling steel posts clad in walnut act as a screen leading into the great room.
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Of great importance to the owners —who were aware that large, high-ceilinged spaces can be echo chambers — was noise control, so all cabinets, drawers and doors have soft close applications to prevent slamming, and the house’s nine shear walls almost completely block noise transfer between floors.
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A HOUSE WITH A VIEW At the main door to the house, the entry is softly shielded from the main room by a screen of floor-to-ceiling steel posts clad in walnut, offering a peek a boo effect to the great room. The screen was dreamed up by designer Sandy Nygaard, who was involved in the design process from the initial planning stages of the build. “They wanted to see the water when they came in the door, but Charlotte felt that it was too open, so the question was, ‘How can we conceal it?’ ” she says. “I thought, ‘Well, here’s a really cool idea — I love millwork, so I clad everything in it.’ ” Down the hallway from the entry and great room is a large coat closet that moonlights as an automation room for the house’s smart features (audio, blinds, lights) and an adjacent powder room, which, like all of the bathrooms in the house (there are 5.5) has sensor lighting that activates when the room is entered. A gym and spare bedroom with ensuite assure privacy at the end of the hall overlooking the ocean and pool, which Robinson keeps at a perfect 84 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. “This was my full-time job for 3.5 years, and it was intense,” says Robinson, describing the build process as he stands on the southeast facing pool deck overlooking the ocean. “It really was a daunting task. But I could do it again.”
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Left: The master ensuite bathroom, which has its own private balcony, features flawless, quadruple-sealed Daltile limestone tiles, a massive soaker tub and clean, white quartz countertops overlooking the bay and Oak Bay Marina. Below: To bestow a continuity to the project, the exterior of the house is clad in the same Valdes Island stone found within and accented with black trim, earthy cedar planking and minimalist glass hardscape walls that allow an uninterrupted view of the ocean. On the street side of the house, ample use of upper clerestory windows provide light without sacrificing privacy.
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RESOURCES GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Novus Properties ARCHITECT: Peter de Hoog, dHKarchitects INTERIOR DESIGN: Nygaard Interior Design POOL: Island Watershapes KITCHEN/BATHROOM MILLWORK: Thomas Philips Woodworking DOORS: B.C. Door Co. WINDOWS: Pino-Lite Glass FLOORING: The Finishing Store & Millworks TILE: CREATIVESTYLE Tile & Stone COUNTERTOPS: Colonial Countertops PAINTER: Town & Country Painting PLUMBER: Granger Plumbing & Heating ELECTRICIAN: Black_Box_Electric
A NATURALIZED APPROACH TO LANDSCAPING Meadows are not only beautiful — creating layers of colour and texture that provide year-round interest — they are low maintenance, good for the environment and provide food for the birds and the bees. BY DAVID LENNAM
PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE
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Hardy and drought-tolerant, this meadow garden on a fiveacre Salt Spring Island property is ideal, both esthetically and for more practical reasons, for owners Nadia and David Youngson. “It’s tough,” says Nadia. “My dogs can run through it and not break the plants.” The meadow is also low maintenance, thrives in poor soil and attracts birds. Sea holly and foxglove are among the plantings.
here’s an intangible bliss being surrounded by a meadow, as if Wordsworth were whispering rhymes against a backdrop of birdsong, while myriad scents rise from a carpet of wildflowers and grasses. There are few sensory experiences as soothing or desired. To find a dream house in a meadow is magic. Assembling one around your current home, however, is not only achievable, but equally enchanting. This is how Nadia and David Youngson literally brought the meadow to their five-acre Salt Spring Island property, with the help of Bianca Bodley of BIOPHILIA design collective. The Youngsons had recently sold another Salt Spring home that was surrounded by highmaintenance English-style gardens. When they moved, and built anew, they wanted something equally lovely, but with far less maintenance. “Tranquil without being minimalist,” says Nadia. “A lot of interest, but peaceful.” Bodley, a Victoria landscape designer experienced with meadow gardens, knew the continuing drought conditions on Salt Spring meant planting sustainably, but with a flair offering an ever-changing panorama. “For me, it’s one of the most beautiful things to look out on. It’s not drawing your eye to one fixed point. It’s like looking at a blurry watercolour, as opposed to something very detailed.” She understands how a garden can be an extended landscape view, rather than a series of predefined beds. Beyond the artistic appeal, meadow gardens provide a haven for wildlife, particularly birds and pollinating bees. They’re drought tolerant and don’t require a lot of irrigation. “In a landscaped garden, you normally have a lot of space between plants,” says Bodley, “but in a meadow you have plants touching. That reduces weeds and the evaporation of water and makes it cooler.” Additionally, there’s no fertilizer required, as meadows don’t need nutrient-rich soil. There’s an axiom for that: The worse the soil, the better the meadow.
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Finally, the meadow garden is relatively inexpensive, compared to the more manicured option. New trees and shrubs are the major cost. Meadows are more about grasses, wildflowers and native plants.
PLAN BEFORE DIGGING The Youngsons had constructed a modern farmhouse, and Bodley’s job was to create a meadow that looked like it had always been there. “It’s always about colour and texture and varying heights and year-round changing interest and also movement,” explains Bodley. “Grasses evoke such a peaceful feeling of constant movement, and the flowers create changing colour interest throughout the year.” Homeowner and designer bonded over a mutual love of influential Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, who Nadia says uses bold drifts of perennials and grasses chosen for their structure as much for their colour. The Youngson’s single-level modern barn-style house has huge panoramic views of the ocean, so the couple didn’t want a lot of trees or large bushes blocking that vista. Nadia describes ocean breezes setting it all in motion: “These beautiful three- or four-foot grasses are waving in the wind.” Bodley planted a combination of ornamental plants against the house (for year-round colour), then transitioned to meadow, with a majority of
This page: Tucked discreetly into the garden, along meandering gravel pathways, is a 40-foot heated lap pool and a cedar barrel sauna with room for six. A backdrop of forest is softened with colourful catmint and Mexican Feather Grass, before transitioning into a full meadow: pastoral, naturalistic and full of movement. Opposite page: It’s all about outdoor living at this one-level modern farmhouse. Materials like stone, concrete, boulders and raw steel fit in with meadow gardens, explains BIOPHILIA’s Bianca Bodley, whose design was to take a wild rustic base palette and add something impactful and modern, so it stands out. A long dining table and Paloform Bol corten fire bowl invite conversation atop a flagstone patio. Raised garden beds of weathered corten steel hold English lavender and more Mexican Feather Grass. Lighting is LED in solid brass fixtures.
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native flowers (native daisy, foxglove, poppy, white yarrow, Queen Anne’s lace and lupine) in the sunnier areas, and native plants (sword fern, bear’s breech, salal, Indian plum and Cascade Oregon grape) leading into the surrounding forest. Grasses, including low maintenance and drought-hardy fescue and short rye, fill out the palette. “You have to pick the right grasses for a meadow to be successful, and also trim down the grass early in the season to allow for adequate light to germinate the flower seeds. The grasses need to be drought tolerant, low maintenance and to be low growing to allow for light to penetrate the flower seeds.” And beware there aren’t invasive or choking grasses or flowers, which, cautions Bodley, will take over. She also warns of spatial considerations when planting a meadow garden, such as engaging focal points when looking out from the home, how you’re going to use the property and travel around it. “You don’t want to block views and you want to have proper sun exposure.” It’s also important to appreciate how the garden will interact with the land if you’re grading and creating slopes and pockets of flat areas. She suggests some early steps before putting spade to soil. • Assess the lighting. •
xamine the soil conditions and whether the E site needs some remediation (it will if it’s mostly rocks and clay). etermine irrigation to get the meadow D established and assess drainage.
Plan out topography and views.
Consider desired colours and textures.
Our goal is to exceed your expectations and bring everlasting beauty into your home.
The landscape designers suggested the pool be dropped by eight feet to allow an unobstructed vista from the house onto meadow and ocean. The garden beds leading from the house to the pool are fairly structured. The sliding barn doors get rolled shut during the hottest part of the day or during the winter gales that can blow in.
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Select non-invasive, low growing and drought-tolerant grasses. Select a desired combination of flowers that will provide spring, summer and fall interest.
And don’t be impatient. A meadow garden takes a couple of years to come into its own. “There’s at least a two-year touch-up program, so you have the right composition and can see if you want to add things. It needs a full season of growth to see what you’ve planted.”
A GROWING TREND Meadow gardening is on the rise, maybe more in Europe, says Bodley, but it’s securing traction here. “It is gaining interest for sure, especially given people’s understanding of the importance of creating habitat for birds and pollination for bees, and also the desire to create beautiful, but still sustainable, landscapes that are drought tolerant.” It was the Romantic poets, whose intention of calling us back to nature, to them that most pure and spiritual force of renewal, inspired an awakening during the late 18th century. The concept of an idyllic pastoral landscape was championed by “Capability” Brown — the Shakespeare of English garden design. Meadow gardening also embraces the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi, encouraging imperfections, asymmetry and incompleteness. But let’s not get too esoteric here. Meadow gardens are really all about less work, less water, less fuss — and the esthetic of a painting by Monet.
AFTER THE FIRE: REBUILDING A DREAM
WHEN A HOUSE FIRE DESTROYED THEIR RECENTLY RENOVATED RETIREMENT DREAM HOME, OWNERS RHEA AND ROB ATHEY DECIDED TO FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE AND START FROM SCRATCH — THIS TIME INCLUDING EVERYTHING THEY NEEDED TO AGE IN PLACE. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE
hen Rhea Athey first laid eyes on the turn-of-the-century character house near Swan Lake three years ago, she was smitten. Quaint and appealingly ramshackle, the cottage had been through various additions over the years and had a bohemian charm that suited Athey. While her husband Rob stayed in Ontario for work, Athey put her yoga teaching job on hold and moved in to oversee a number of renovations to make it suitable for their needs. The couple would be moving permanently from Ontario to Victoria to be closer to two of their three daughters and their families, especially their 19-month-old grandson. Near the end of the renovation, with only a few paint touch-ups left to complete in the house, Athey returned to Ontario to rejoin her husband. Unfortunately, some paint rags left in a plastic bag by a worker ignited while she was gone, and the house went up in flames. “I was devastated. My family and I had already spent our first Christmas there, and it was the house we were planning to retire in,” says Athey. “When our neighbours called to tell us the house was on fire, I was hysterical. My husband thought someone had died.”
STARTING FRESH Lost in the fire was the entire front portion of the house — the original charming cottage that had so appealed to Athey — along with a lot of her antique furniture and treasures. A few key items, including her mother’s hope chest, which she has since treated with ozone to rid it of the smell; and a box of Christmas teddy bears that she’s been collecting for 35 years, were saved. The house, however, was too badly damaged to salvage, so upon recommendation from experts, they made the decision to start fresh. “We actually watched them bulldoze it down, which was kind of cool in a crazy way, but it brought a lot of closure,” she says. “It kind of signalled the renewal.” After deciding to put the fire behind them and rebuild, the Atheys, with Rhea in charge, tweaked the layout of the house with new spaces to help them age in place. The 2,200 square foot home now has three bedrooms — a top floor master with an adjacent bedroom for their grandson — plus a generous main floor guest bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and walk-in closet, which can transition into a master bedroom if stairs ever become an issue for the couple After coming to terms with the loss of their recently in later years. renovated retirement home, the Atheys decided to rebuild, making improvements to the layout while A Ping-Pong room — Athey’s husband’s keeping the Cape Cod cottage charm they had fallen only request — resulted in a 400-squarein love with when they foot full-height basement games room with bought it — complete heated floors and ample sitting room for with a traditional tournaments. Before the fire, the basement front portico design, comfortable chairs of the house had a ceiling height that and lots of blooming rendered it useless for day-to-day usage.
THE REBUILD PROCESS “The rebuild was satisfying because it was far better than what she had,” says Tony Weaver, who supervised the rebuild for Downs Construction (and has since retired).
planters overlooking the quiet street. The home is now an archetype of cozy, livable design.
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“We were able to give her a way better house. Her old basement was five feet high and was relying on sump pumps, and upstairs the ceilings were only six feet and six inches high where somebody had developed an old attic that shouldn’t have been developed. What she got, there was no comparison.” Athey was instrumental in the design and rebuilding process, from layout and materials to interior décor — and it’s clear that her vision was both cohesive and reflective of her, and her husband’s, eclectic personalities. The main floor boasts a stunning wood floor, from Urban Timber, made with materials salvaged from old barns, resulting in a sea of planks that meld knotty honey blondes with the joyful anomalies of rich and pale browns. “The biggest thing I wanted were old, reclaimed hardwood floors,” says Athey. “It was an investment, but I love them.” Old wood heritage pieces are a theme for Athey, who converted an antique dry sink from Quebec into the main floor bathroom vanity, and has well-loved Canadiana art pieces sprinkled throughout the home. The main room off the entry functions more as a den, with brick tile around the fireplace by Ark@Home, and cozy lounge chairs for reading. Just behind the den, a covered area with a hot tub and seating offers easy access to outdoor entertainment. “We tried to rebuild it with the integrity of the old house, but bigger and nicer,” says Athey. “Then we could do it exactly how we wanted it and make it a little bit more functional but I absolutely tried to keep quite a bit of the layout of the old house.”
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In the kitchen, under sloping 11-foot exposed beam ceilings, striking distressed cement countertops are stained a matte dark brown with hand-chiseled edging that gives them a natural finish. The large centre island, home to a double apron sink and cabinetry, is connected to a
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At the top of Rhea Athey’s wish list for the rebuild was reclaimed wood floors. The main floor is a gorgeous patchwork of salvaged refinished lumber installed by Urban Timber. The back half of the kitchen island, also by Urban Timber, is an antique slab pulled from an old box car, complete with original scars from railcar wheels. The backsplash of natural, mottled grey tile by Loki Tile & Fine Flooring fuses the kitchen’s old time elements with its new appliances from Coast Appliances. Matte black Wolseley hardware complements the work zone’s distressed cement countertops with hand-chiseled edges (by Liquid Stone Studios) to complete the room’s rustic vibe.
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Above: In the master bedroom, a custom headboard of reclaimed wood by Logan Green blends seamlessly with the room’s country vibe, clinched by a large sliding barn door to the closet. Left: In the main-floor powder room, Athey chose a refurbished antique dry sink to bring a sense of Canadiana history and style to the zone.
massive slab of reclaimed wood from an old box car, created by Urban Timber, complete with the criss-cross scarring of train wheels and providing seating for four. Rustic floating shelves, also from Urban Timber, show off a collection of wellloved robin’s egg blue pottery dishes above an earth-toned tile backsplash from Loki Tile & Fine Flooring. A six-burner gas range pulls together the kitchen’s functionality as a go-to place to cook, talk and eat. “I wanted everything comfortable, so that if my grandson came over, it wouldn’t matter if he dropped something. It’s already distressed and worn in,” says Athey of her preference for reclaimed materials. “And there’s just something about old wood that you can’t recreate nowadays.” Behind the kitchen, a comfortable, high ceilinged living room easily holds a large sectional and cushy easy chairs, with an adjacent dining table and powder room nestled effortlessly beside it. The cathedral ceilings and a window-filled back wall creates ample natural light and an easy flow to the back deck and fenced garden — itself a “work in progress,” by Athey’s standards.
NOT YOUR STANDARD PROJECT Upstairs, high sloping ceilings and rustic pendants from Mclaren Lighting create a restful vibe for the two bedrooms — the master a spacious zone of rest with a massive dormer window above the bed. Due to the dormer’s sloping walls, Athey had to give up her beloved wrought iron bed in favour of a custom headboard of, you guessed it, rustic wood pallet panels. A
sliding barn door was added to the walk-in closet — a must-have for Athey, who had been hoping to incorporate one into the build. In the ensuite, a large soaker tub and a wood grain shower wall tile keeps the homespun theme going, complemented by a glass sink basin, fixtures from Wolseleys and an antique stained glass mirror from one of Athey’s favourite antique shops in Ontario. “It was a different project, with the high vaulted ceilings and big beams. It wasn’t your standard house,” continues Weaver of the build. “She [Athey] picked out some pretty funky stuff for the inside.” With the house finished, Athey and her husband, who hasn’t quite retired, soak up the best of Victoria’s offerings every chance they get, though Rhea is now working on perfecting the flowers and potted plants on the front porch of her Cape Codstyle home. “We are extremely active — we love running, biking, hiking and golf, which we can do here all year round,” she says. “Victoria is the best place on earth to live, it’s so incredible.”
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST A HOUSE FIRE
A house fire can be a traumatizing experience, but with a little foreplanning, much of the associated stress of losing one’s belongings can be mitigated. “If you had a total loss home fire, the owners are usually in total shock, so one of the things to do is build a schedule of loss that lists all of your personal property, all the contents in the home — jewelry, bikes, appliances,” says Walker Ross, a Megson FitzPatrick claims manager and former independent adjuster. “And when you walk through after a fire, trying to remember what was in each room to recoup it all back through insurance, is a really difficult process.” Ross, and Cary Augustini, insurance manager for Island Savings, recommend taking photographs of every room and item in your house, including in closets and cupboards, and categorizing the photos offsite (on a cloud or in a safe deposit box). This not only speeds up the claims process on the back end, but ensures you get fair payment for items that are in good condition. Other tips include keeping all receipts for items over $200 and noting the make and model of all appliances. Scheduling jewelry or heirlooms with an insurance company can also help compensate for loss, as many standard policies have a cap on payouts for jewelry, so if you have a ring worth $12,000, you may only get half, or whatever the cap will cover. Because many fires (and floods) render a home unlivable, it’s also wise to ensure your insurance includes ample additional living expenses (ALE) to cover hotel or rental home expenses while you sort out the situation.
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BY ATHENA McKENZIE
THE PERFECT KITCHEN SINK Designing your dream kitchen involves a lot of decisions, including choosing the ideal sink. This important feature can be a long-term commitment, where you spend hours of meal preparation and cleanup. From the material you choose and the installation type to the colour and basic configuration, each type has different advantages and functionality. With so many unique sink styles to choose from, Spruce breaks down the features and benefits of each.
Blanco Ikon apronfront sink in Silgranit
Homeowners who love the popular apron-front style, whether traditional or modern, have lots of options. The classic farmhouse sink — which features a deep basin and an exposed apron-front installation — is timeless. The copper, stone and stainless steel options from Stone Forest all have an elegant, refined look and do not sacrifice functionality. Traditionally, farmhouse sinks are made from porcelain, copper or stainless steel, but the style is getting a contemporary makeover with new materials. The Blanco Ikon sink is made of SILGRANIT, their patented granite composite material. With being extremely durable and scratch and stain resistant, it is easy to clean. The Farmstead sink from KOHLER is a stylish reimagining of the farmhouse sink. Made from enameled cast iron with a sleek painted underside, the sink can be installed wall-mount with legs or top-mount with custom cabinetry, which gives it the look of a custom, handconstructed piece of furniture. Visit kohler.ca, blanco-germany.com and stoneforest.com for local retailers.
Kohler Farmstead sink
Stone Forest copper sink
EXPERT TIPS FOR CHOOSING YOUR SINK Gina Wicentowich, of Splashes Bath & Kitchen, suggests these considerations when choosing your sink: 1. Material: According to Wicentowich, the two most popular materials this year have been stainless steel and composite. Stainless steel is still the standard and is resistant to dents and easy to clean. However, it can be noisy if it doesn’t have sound absorption.
A popular composite is Blanco’s patented SILGRANIT, which is made of 80 per cent natural granite. It is scratch, stain and heat-resistant. 2. Style: This depends on both cabinet size and design style. Undermount sinks provide a no-barrier transition from countertop to sink, which eliminates build-up; Drop-in sinks are typically less expensive
than other styles; Farmhouse sinks are characterized by their exposed front that drops down. 3. Number of bowls: Double bowls offer a side for scrubbing dishes and one for rinsing. But single bowls can be useful for soaking and washing large pots and pans. If you can’t decide — you can even choose a 1.5 bowl or a 1.75 bowl sink.
THE MOST POPULAR INSTALLATION OPTIONS INCLUDE APRON FRONT, CUT OUT, DROP IN AND INTEGRATED.
THATâ€™S A DROP
Also known as a self-rimming or top-mount, a drop-in sink fits into a cutout in your countertop, with the rim resting on the counter. They are the easiest to install, and while compatible with all materials, are usually paired with laminate counters. Their advantage is the cost and the ease of installation. They also come in a diverse range of materials. The BLANCO METRA, also made from SILGRANIT, comes in a range of colours, and offers exceptional resistance to heat, scratches and impact. Visit blanco-germany.com for local retailers.
SUBTLE AND SLEEK
An undermount sink is installed under the countertop, so the sink hangs underneath the counter, as opposed to sitting on top of it. This creates a continuous flow from the countertop into the sink. This installation style is best suited for solid-surface countertop materials, such as granite, soapstone, marble, or concrete. Laminate or tile counters may have too many weak points along the seams and grout lines to support the weight of the sink. Frankeâ€™s Chef Centre, with its stainless steel basin, offers a variety of custom-fitted accessories. Visit franke.com for local retailers.
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The other popular installation is the integrated sink, where the countertop has a built-in sink out of the same material. The seamless and contemporary appearance can make a real style statement. It’s also easy to clean, allows for customization and looks very luxurious.
When it comes to picking your sink, a major decision is whether to get a single or double basin. While single-bowl sinks are trendy right now, there are a number of factors to consider, such as how much space you have, how many people use your kitchen at the same time and how you prefer to clean up. If you’re limited in counter space, a large single-bowl sink could be best. Even if you’re not limited in space, it can make hand-washing larger pots and pans much easier. However single basin set-ups are less compatible with a built-in disposal. If you tend to start clean-up while your cooking is still underway, a double-basin sink lets you start washing dishes on one side while still prepping on the other. The double basins can be the same size, or offset so one is larger.
SEEING WHAT YOUR FUTURE SPACE WILL LOOK LIKE ALLOWS YOU TO MAKE IMPORTANT DESIGN DECISIONS AHEAD OF TIME.
Creating New Spaces Shorewest Designs provides conceptual design, 3D visualization, space planning, and architectural rendering services to homeowners and industry professionals. Whether you’re renovating an existing house or designing a brand new home, seeing what your future space will look like allows you to make important design decisions ahead of time, cutting down on time, cost and stress. With a wide range of experience in residential and commercial design, we work with you to bring your ideas to life, providing visual context so you can get a head start on the design project of your dreams.
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Flintstones is a Licensed Building and Renovation company that has successfully completed thousands of projects in Greater Victoria and the Gulf Islands. We value the quality of our work, the expertise and processes our team have developed and the incredible relationships we’ve built with our team, customers and community over the years. Our mission is simple: “Provide our clients with the best construction experience possible.” We use our core values — accountability, communication and honesty — as our compass, and our proactive approach, systems and experience as our guide. From designing an outdoor living space to moving a home and installing new foundations or complete construction services and project management, we will work tirelessly to achieve your goals successfully.
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“WE DESIGN GREEN SPACES THAT ARE ROBUST AND INVITING — SPACES WHERE PEOPLE NATURALLY WANT TO GATHER.”
We specialize in sustainable, leading-edge landscape designs and installations by combining form, texture and colour. With a focus on diversity and longevity, we integrate edible and native plants with ornamentals, promote organic gardening practices, and design green spaces that are robust and inviting — spaces where people naturally want to gather. Our landscape design reflects the needs of our client by blending sustainability, cohesion and aesthetic. Our innovative design work aims to create dynamic landscapes that naturally draw the eye and inspire the imagination.
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BY SHANNON MONEO
Secrets of Success LIKE ANY RELATIONSHIP, THE ONE WITH YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT REQUIRES WORK FOR THE BEST OUTCOME. SPRUCE LOOKS AT HOW TO CREATE A BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIP, WHETHER YOU ARE BUYING OR SELLING.
A PROFESSIONAL APPROACH Don’t be the client who overprices their home by 30 per cent or more because of overwhelming debt or because a neighbour got a high price. Or be the buyer who spends a couple months looking at homes with a realtor and abruptly switches to another realtor to purchase. Or the one who doesn’t trust the realtor and believes they’re out to get them. As well, some think a realtor can do more than what’s legally allowed. And while clients have choices, so do realtors. They can say no to a client — a rare occurrence. To bring certainty to their lives, many realtors ask clients to sign buyers’ contracts, which state clients are obligated to buy from realtors
uying or selling a home is one of life’s more stressful events, and one way to sow calm is by cultivating a great relationship with a realtor. Like all relationships, the starting point is mature communication and being clear about what’s wanted. “It’s important to establish expectations, for both sides, right from the get go,” says Cheryl Woolley, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board and a realtor with RE/MAX Camosun. “We’re there to explain all the moving parts, so it’s important to stay in touch. Let the agent know you’ll work with them.” Many realtors gain clients based on referrals from former clients, but Woolley says research shouldn’t be overlooked if a client wants to be certain the agent suits them. “It’s not a bad idea to interview three or four agents,” she says. “Let the agent know you’re interviewing them. Honesty is the best policy.” And remember to let the unsuccessful realtors know a choice was made. Keep in mind that being a realtor can be like skydiving without a backup parachute. They don’t get regular pay cheques and have to deal with uncertainty, so showing respect, not calling at midnight and not demanding a showing immediately will strengthen the relationship. The stellar realtors are sincere, knowledgable, ethical, smart communicators and stay up-todate with regulations, trends and the industry in general. Great clients trust their realtor, are easy to work with and hold up their end of the conversation.
“IT’S IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISH EXPECTATIONS, FOR BOTH SIDES, RIGHT FROM THE GET GO.” within a set time limit. It’s to prevent a client from viewing a dozen properties and then contracting with another agent, who may have a lower commission rate, to seal the deal. Deana Fawcett doesn’t use buyer’s contracts. “I work with mutually agreeable terms without a contract,” she says. With over 13 years as a Victoria-area realtor selling hundreds of homes, Fawcett works for eXp Realty. She agrees that communication is key since clients
may spend a lot of time with their realtor. The close bond means she doesn’t lie or tell clients what they want to hear, which can backfire and prolong a sale or purchase. “Clients trust me because I’m personable, honest and have the facts,” Fawcett adds. And if there’s a technical or structural question and she doesn’t know the answer, she calls a professional. “I want to be able to give accurate information.,” she says.
THE STELLAR REALTORS ARE SINCERE, KNOWLEDGABLE, ETHICAL, SMART COMMUNICATORS AND STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH REGULATIONS, TRENDS AND THE INDUSTRY IN GENERAL. ALL IN THE TIMING Rebecca Barritt, a Sotheby’s International Realty Canada agent, says she’s got a fairly easy going personality, which serves her well. She also works very hard and at times, finds it hard to turn off. “It can get daunting, but I love that it’s not nine to five,” says Barritt, who like Fawcett doesn’t use buyer’s contracts because they scare off clients. She credits her affiliation with Briggs Stratton & Associates and Sotheby’s for easing job demands. With a designer, photographer and mortgage broker on speed dial, marketing is seamless. The professional photographer makes sure photos are taken on a sunny day, and distractions like garbage cans or electrical wires don’t appear. If necessary, drone footage can be shot. Staging, which has proven to be effective in competitive markets, is easily arranged. And beyond newspaper ads, social media marketing and magazine spots work wonders. “There’s also something to be said about timing,” Barritt notes. If an open house is planned, best to do it on a weekend. Advertising for the event should appear on a Thursday for enough advance notice. Not to be overlooked are new rules in B.C. for realtors. An agency cannot represent both the buyer and seller, something Barritt is relieved about. “It was a scary place to put anybody,” she says.
NO TWO SALES ALIKE As for what’s negotiable, Fawcett says, “Every sale is unique. Sometimes it’s everything. Sometimes it’s nothing.” It often depends on the property. Some deals include furniture, appliances and window coverings. Price, deposit, exclusions and closing dates can be negotiable. Certain clients set firm prices and conditions and won’t budge. “These can be my favourite clients to work with,” says Fawcett. “They have clear intentions and instructions.” How realtors are paid can be less explicit. Every realtor is licensed under a brokerage, says Woolley. While there is not a prescribed commission for realtors, a broker usually sets a rate. To stay competitive, most commission rates in Greater Victoria are similar. Typically, it’s 6 per cent on the first $100,000 of a property sale and 3 per cent on the balance, both of which are negotiable, Woolley notes. So a $800,000 sale would generate a $27,000 commission, which is split between the listing and selling agents and their brokers. Cutting private deals isn’t common, nor is listing a home for 40 per cent above its value, which confuses the market. “It’s bad for your reputation,” Fawcett says. Barritt, Fawcett and Woolley all love their job, even when homes can take 18 months to sell, or clients spend two years viewing houses. “It’s not a job you just turn off. You’re helping people with the largest transaction of their lives. I love helping people to achieve that goal to get into their ideal home,” Woolley says.
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COMMUNICATION MATTERS: WHAT YOUR REALTOR NEEDS TO KNOW
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1. What’s your timeline to purchase? Three months? Six months? A year?
1. Why are you selling? Downsizing? Debt? Moving away?
2. Are you working with a banker/mortgage broker to ensure you are pre-approved for a mortgage? It’s not good to be racing around at the last minute, getting approvals in place.
2. After selling, where are you heading? Realtors can often coordinate activity at the other end.
3. What’s the “wish list?” Keep it realistic. Unicorns don’t exist. 4. What’s your availability to view properties or open houses? Is one-hour notice OK or can it be only Tuesday nights?
3. Is the house alarmed? Pets inside? Any other problematic surprises?
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4. Showing schedules — what works? 5. Are renters occupying the premises? 6. What’s the price of the property? (Courtesy Deana Fawcett, eXp Realty)
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For this Fairfield build, interior designer Danisha Drury of Design District Access used a timeless black-and-white theme, bringing in arresting geometric elements. “The overall monochromatic esthetic for this build was chosen to contrast different elements like brick, wood and cement with black and white accents throughout,” Drury says.” This required finding a distinctive wallpaper for over the Regency City Series San Francisco Bay 40 gas fireplace. “We had already selected a wallpaper for the entrance that was also black and white with a different scale, so it was important that they play nicely together,” she says. The Hex Black Geometric wallpaper from A-Street Prints also plays off the glossy black Euro Ceramic Tile Studio Series tile of the hearth. “This fireplace has a patented venting technology that allows for the wallpaper to butt tight against the firebox,” she says. “This allows for any designer to add huge flair to an otherwise just tiled fireplace surround and create a stunning focal point.”
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The Fall 2019 issue of Spruce features west coast homes, colour tones for Fall and custom-home advice.