Spruce magazine Spring 2024

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VICTORIA’S HOME & DESIGN MAGAZINE How Passivhaus builds are changing the landscape PM41295544 Spring Issue The 1930s KITCHEN REDUX • HOW TO CREATE A QUIET HOME BLENDING VINTAGE & MODERN DÉCOR • STELLAR STAIRCASES sprucemagazine.ca
THE FUTURE
DESIGNING

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FEATURES

CONTENTS

24 THE SCIENCE OF ACOUSTICS

Architectural solutions for creating a quiet home.

28 RETRO REDUX

A 1930s kitchen reno merges modern conveniences with vintage charm.

34

THE FAMILY PENTHOUSE

Condo reno turns a bare, white suite into a bold and modern luxury loft made for a family.

42 PRAISE FOR THE PASSIVHAUS

This energy-focused building might just be the design of the future.

50 INTERIOR MIXOLOGY

Blending vintage and modern décor creates spaces in a league of their own.

8

DEPARTMENTS

EDITOR’S LETTER

Reimagine, redesign, repeat: Embracing change in your home.

11

SPRUCE IT UP

Open the door to spring with new colours, patterns and décor meant for play.

16

THIS ROOM

Revisioning your stairwell can give your home a real step up.

BY SIMONE PAGET

20

DESIGN INSPO

Goodbye excess, hello meaning: Create a simpler life through minimalism.

BY LIAM RAZZELL

54

REAL ESTATE

The real deal on curb appeal: Investing in outer appearances.

56

THE HOME EDIT

Applying wabi-sabi in home design.

58

FINISHING TOUCH

Murals made to turn rooms into “a moment.”

28
42
4 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
34
16 Spring Issue
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PUBLISHERS Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Joanne Sasvari

EDITOR Danielle Pope

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Jeffrey Bosdet

LEAD GRAPHIC DESIGNER Janice Hildybrant

ASSOCIATE GRAPHIC DESIGNER Caroline Segonnes

ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS Deana Brown, Will Gillis, Cynthia Hanischuk, Brenda Knapik

ADVERTISING CO-ORDINATOR Rebecca Juetten

MARKETING CONSULTANT Amanda Wilson

DIGITAL MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR Claire Villaraza

MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR Lauren Ingle

STAFF WRITER Liam Razzell

PROOFREADER Lionel Wild

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Susan Hollis, David Lennam Simone Paget, Nessa Pullman

CONTRIBUTING

PHOTOGRAPHERS Dasha Armstrong, Joshua Lawrence Mary McNeill Knowles, Janis Nicolay

CONTRIBUTING AGENCIES Getty Images p. 11, 14, 24, 27, 55, 57; Living4Media p. 56

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ON THE COVER
for the Passivhaus. See page 42. Photo by Janis Nicolay. Printed in Canada by Mitchell Press. Ideas and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Page One Publishing Inc. or its affiliates; no official endorsement should be inferred. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents of any advertisement and any and all representations or warranties made in such advertising are those of the advertiser and not the publisher. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, in all or part, in any form — printed or electronic — without the express permission of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement 41295544 Spruce magazine is published by Page One Publishing 580 Ardersier Road, Victoria, BC V8Z 1C7 T 250-595-7243 info@pageonepublishing.ca pageonepublishing.ca VICTORIA’S HOME & DESIGN MAGAZINE ADVERTISE IN SPRUCE MAGAZINE Spruce is Victoria’s home and design magazine. For advertising info, please call us at 250-595-7243 or email marketinginfo@sprucemagazine.ca 25 years of finely crafted, handmade cabinetry, furniture & millwork 259 Esquimalt Road 250.360.2123 douglasgrantcabinetmakers.com DESIGN | BUILD | MAINTAIN 250-595-0527 info@acaciavictoria.com Landscaping Your Lifestyle 6 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
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SELLING?

Reimagine, Redesign, Repeat: Embracing Change in Your Home

Change, even good change, takes commitment — and courage, too. There’s something about being in the spring season that reminds us nature goes through its own renovations at least four times a year. That fortitude can give us the motivation we need to follow through on our own visions.

It begins with the excitement of poring over inspirational catalogues, chatting with friends about the changes they’ve made in their own homes and researching the right designer. Then the decision hangs in the balance of our own commitment to making our space better.

It’s the “yes,” according to folks in the design industry, that takes the most effort.

Knowing you’re embarking on a journey takes resilience. Especially one that will have you agreeing on flooring materials, comparing paint cards — how white is too white? — even debating the amount of veining in a countertop. If we’re being honest, it also requires a good sense of humour.

While every small decision can feel consuming, it builds toward the elevated outcome that will be your new space. And, it will be worth it.

That’s the moment most people talk about: the delight that comes from being in the new space. They talk about gratitude for the folks who made it possible. They talk about their favourite features and the hurdles they faced building in and around a pandemic. They don’t always recognize the courage it took to get there.

This edition of Spruce captures that same motivation of people embracing change — from the imperfection-focused wabi-sabi philosophy (see The Home Edit) to a family who needed their penthouse to become kid friendly (see ‘The Family Penthouse’) and one that hoped to update a micro 1930s kitchen (see ‘Retro Redux’).

With any luck, the inspiration within these pages will remind you change can be a great thing. We just need to gather our energy for the cause. Wishing you happy reading and luck on your own design journey.

This spring, Spruce hosted its first-ever DesignHeads speakers panel to welcome four of Victoria’s renowned home and design experts to talk about reimagining the kitchen. With an audience of nearly 200 people at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, the panelists spoke to the greatest mistakes and most impressive hacks they’ve seen in kitchen redesign. Stay tuned for news about the next DesignHeads event.

EDITOR’S LETTER
Top (left to right): Moderator Ann Squires Ferguson (CEO of Western Design+Build) sits with panelists Jackson Leidenfrost, owner of HYGGE Design Inc., Raubyn Rothschild, lead designer of Rothschild West Design + Planning, and Pamela Úbeda, architect and principal of Coast + Beam Architecture.
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Bottom: Ted Hancock of Incredible Home spoke as presenting sponsor.
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SPRUCE IT UP

Opening the Door to Spring

This season brings vibrant new colours, geometric patterns, augmented reality and playthings to fill your home with light.

Fresh New Hues

Soothing optimism is the theme when it comes to new shades this season. To complement Pantone’s earlier declaration of “Orangeade” making colour headlines for 2024, this season’s palette includes a calming selection of pastel tones, harkening back to the days of periwinkle — Pantone’s colour of the year way back in 2022.

Spring 2024 highlights Chambray Blue (PANTONE® 15-4030 TCX) as a peak tone, with its brightened denim infused with “easy vitality.” Also making the grade is Pastel Lilac (PANTONE® 14-3812 TCX), seen as a soft and powdery lavender hue, suggestive of a sweet aroma. Finally, Lemon Drop (PANTONE® 12-0736 TCX) has notes of sugar coating and zest all over it, and makes a beautiful match with the bolder, richer hues announced earlier in the year.

from top:

Clockwise Pantone’s spring palette is captured by a few lookalikes. Swiss Blue 815 from Benjamin Moore takes on the suggestion of Chambray Blue; Laura Ashley Wild Meadow Pale Iris wallpaper from Graham & Brown mimics Pastel Lilac; SW 6695 Midday by Sherwin Williams mirrors Pantone’s Lemon Drop.
11 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

SPRUCE IT UP

IN THIS SEASON

10 ways to add a pop of style and design function to your home.

• Window dressings: Draw the blinds and opt for sheer curtains to maximize natural light while welcoming the outdoors back in.

Lighter textures: Swap out the heavy wools with breathable materials like linen or cotton for a fresh, seasonal feel.

• Wood work: Bring in nature with wooden accents this season. A call back to midcentury motifs, this tactile connection to the outdoors maintains a minimalist vibe.

Neutral refresh: Embrace muted tones to create a calming atmosphere, then capitalize on Pantone’s spring colour palette with pillows or bouquets to mirror spring rejuvenation.

Open shelving: Hang open shelving to showcase books or curated collections, promoting an airy and uncluttered environment while adding a touch of personal expression.

• Light sculptures: Trade out tired, uniform lamps for unique, sculptural light fixtures to add a touch of modernity while brightening your space.

• Pattern power: Patterns are making a comeback this season, so draw in subtle geometric cues in rugs, a backsplash or even throws to add interest without overwhelm.

Relaxation nook: Design a corner in your home for intentional relaxation before the busy season takes hold. Think: comfy seating, plush cushions, soft throws, art, aromatherapy and anything that inspires you to unwind.

• Morning station: Make your kitchen routine all the easier with a dedicated morning station. Set up a stylish coffeeand-tea bar with all the essentials nested in baskets, encouraging a mindful start to each day.

Outdoor programming: Create ambience for the months ahead with programmable outdoor lighting to showcase the beauty of your garden during patio season.

Intricate patterns, like this backsplash by Decora Ceramic Tile, add intrigue to a space. European flax linen Melange curtain in Terracotta, West Elm. Folsom coffee table in Desert Pine, Pottery Barn. Piccola white onyx table lamp, CB2. Hold Everything coffee station, Williams Sonoma.
12 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

A Coffee Table with Joy

When people first see “The Shuffle” MH1 Coffee Table by &tradition, it’s little surprise they may ask what it is. Nordic designer Mia Hamborg hoped the table would conjure images of old wooden toys, with the flexibility to build and deconstruct the stack, much like a children’s plaything. The colourful forms are made from lacquered, sustainable MDF and solid oak wood, then coated with a high-gloss surface to ensure durability. With the user responsible for making the shape of the table — from the form and colours to the height — it brings new life to the Nordic craft tradition of turning wood. Hamborg said the table has a function more important than holding coffee cups, however: it’s meant to create joy.

Available at grshop.com

A Finish with Flourish

Sumptuous finishings take on a new meaning with new The Charlotte Bath Collection faucets by Brizo — now available in “Cocoa Bronze,” a colour that melts the senses with a deep brown matte finish and touches of polished nickel. The subtly sculptural pieces offer clean lines and classical elegance, deftly bridging the gap between traditional and modern design. If cocoa isn’t your style, Brizo’s Virage series offers a twist on the flourishes of Old World wrought iron with modern expression in sultry polished nickel and chrome. Delta’s Trinsic series brings in modernity with a restrained champagne bronze, and the Moen Align series adorns its sinks with brushed gold, matte black and chrome, all in classic style. Available at most local specialty hardware locations.

13 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
Clockwise from top left: Brizo Charlotte Widespread Bathroom Faucet; Delta Trinsic; Moen Align; Brizo Virage.

SPRUCE IT UP

Augmenting Reality

If drastic renos feel hard to commit to, try them on for size instead. Playing with reality isn’t just for video gamers — now, interior design studios and even userbased apps (like Marxent, Houzz, ARki and DecorMatters) are making it possible for people to see what your surroundings could look like with a few changes. In fact, Vancouver’s virtual and augmented reality sector is the second biggest in the world, trailing only the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Different from virtual reality (where a whole new environment is created), augmented reality overlays changeable digital content into the real world. Take a look through your smartphone to see how that window placement would work, if the sofa matches the room or even how a paint colour could impact a feature wall — all within the boundaries of your actual space. Gone are the days of sketches and modelling. Now, clients can interact with these augmented rooms, first-hand, to see how well a design modification would work.

Picture your design changes in real time, before you commit, with augmented reality tech.

Every day your Realtor goes to work, for you. ® Ethical, dedicated, reliableREALTOR vreb.org 14 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

READING NOOK

Books to design change in your home.

DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

Any designer knows details make the difference, but author Amber Lewis has captured a rundown of which ones deserve the most attention in her new book, Call It Home: The Details That Matter (2023, Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed). Lewis runs through insights and obsessions that went into eight major projects, including her own home, from the bullnose edge of a marble countertop to the wood grain pattern of the flooring, the pleat of a drape and more. The result is beautiful tips to shortcut the decision-making process.

APPROACHABLE ATTRIBUTES

Beauty isn’t just about the beholder — it’s also about the feeling you create in your home. The Art of Home: A Designer Guide to Creating an Elevated Yet Approachable Home (2023, Harper Horizon) is author and design expert Shea McGee’s answer to the question: how can I transform my home? McGee shows the world how the principles of high-end design can be applied to any home, even if yours doesn’t look like it would fit in a catalogue.

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THIS ROOM

Stairway to Spring

REVISIONING YOUR STAIRWELL CAN GIVE YOUR HOME A REAL STEP UP.

PLATINUM CREATIVE 16 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

Staircases are as much a feature of the home as they are a functionality. Whether considering the appropriate look for a banister or railing, or redesigning the location and structure entirely, modifying your stairs can, quite literally, elevate your home.

“Staircases can be a dominating feature, so they need to be well considered visually,” says Jake James, a blacksmith based in Metchosin, who specializes in producing sculpturally influenced projects. “They are a part of a home that will be used continually, so there are tactile as well as esthetic considerations, too.”

A well-thought-out stair can elevate the overall appeal of your home and create a unique focal point. But how does one decide on the type — quarter-turned, winder, cantilevered, curved, circular, ladder, straight, crossover, bifurcated; the list goes on — and the style to suit your space?

Spruce talked to a few experts to help guide your process. Here are a few things to consider when you’re ready to take the next step.

THE OVERALL GOAL

Ideally, a staircase should marry form and function.

When designing a staircase, Wendy Taylor, design and development co-ordinator at Green Island Builders, says it’s important to consider the overall goal of the space. For example, are you trying to open up the feel of the home or create a separation between levels and areas? Taylor speaks in favour of open designs — especially for small or irregular spaces — to open the room and create an illusion of space. L-shaped open stairs and transparent materials are classic choices for this.

“Open-trade design can add a lightness to a staircase and an openness to a floor plan,” says Taylor, even if the layout is limited. “Glass, if used correctly, can make the staircase feel very open as well.”

THE HOME’S EXISTING STYLE

To ensure the staircase is a focal point and not a distraction, it’s crucial to take into account the actual style of the home — not just the one you wish you had.

“When I am designing, I am always responding to external stimuli,” says James. “The style of the home and tastes of the client are usually the biggest factors, and my job is to take these and then create a beautiful and functional railing that will meet — and hopefully exceed — the needs.”

When in doubt, choose staircase features that are modern and elegant, and avoid moves that turn the home into a patchwork of styles.

“Curved handrails with minimal pickets are beautiful and can suit almost any home,” says Taylor.

Opposite page: Half-turn landing stairs, also known as U-shaped staircases, like this one from a GT Mann project, form a “U” with two parallel flights and a landing. This switchback lends dynamic interest and high function for tighter spaces.

Above: This classic curved staircase, designed by AP Woodworks, shows how a unique focal point can be created with this architecture — whether you’re looking from above or below.
17 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
PLATINUM CREATIVE

EMBRACE CURVES

Recently, Taylor and her team completed a staircase design in Vancouver, featuring a sweeping curved wood handrail across three stories, complemented by strategically placed simple black pickets, notably on the very bottom steps of the lower level.

The handrailing was intentionally kept along the inside wall, ensuring continuity from the basement level through the main floor and upper level. Taylor describes the project as “beautiful, but in a quiet way.”

“It had a seamless flow through the home without being overpowering and demanding attention,” she says.

In other words, it’s everything a statement-making staircase should be.

FUNCTIONAL DESIGN RAILINGS

Railings are so much more than a safety feature. Use them as your style boost.

“A handrail on an existing wall is often used when you want to keep the design minimalistic, timeless and, of course, it’s very budget friendly,” says Taylor.

That doesn’t mean railings have to be boring.

“Ideally, a railing becomes a design feature, often panellized due to the nature of staircases, and the design will flow throughout the entire project,” says James. “I like to draw in the viewer’s eye to focal points in the railing, whilst ensuring the overall design works together.”

TREAD MATERIALS

To minimize distractions, and create a sense of continuity throughout the home, ensure tread materials coordinate with the rest of the space.

“Matching the existing hardwood flooring can make the space flow without any transition,” says Taylor. “You can also add a carpet runner if you want to add a transition between spaces.”

If you’re in the modern camp, glass, carbon mesh or even steel can create elegant and industrial looks to accent style while keeping functional traction and safety in mind.

Below: Straight staircases offer a simple descent between levels. In this project by Green Island Builders, a black powder-coated railing brings this stairwell a modern look, partnered with functional carpet traction.

Above and left: Curvature brings touches of elegance to an otherwise simple design, like the lower curve of this handrail in the Green Island Builders project.
18 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
JODY BECK

GO FOR SCULPTURE

James’s work is influenced by both European Art Nouveau and the geometric style of Pacific Northwest Indigenous art. In a recent project, James skillfully incorporated the “feel” of both traditions, avoiding direct mimicry, to craft a sweeping, panellized railing at the heart of a charming, timber-framed home.

“The design feels alive, conjuring images of diving sea animals,” James says. “As a medium, forged steel is a textural quality that works perfectly with most other materials — in this case, with the heavy timbers of the house.”

Balustrades, like these created by Metchosin blacksmith Jake James, allow handrails to be free-standing in situations where a wall is not available to mount a railing. These are often decorative, and the ones pictured here have a unique coastal style.

Reimagine and reincarnate your classic Victoria home. Start here, book a consultation. GENERAL CONTRACTING | CONSTRUCTION | CONSULTING COSGRAVE.CA | 250-886-1361 | PAUL@COSGRAVE.CA 19 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
PHOTOS: JEFFREY BOSDET

Goodbye Excess, Hello Meaning

EMBRACING MINIMALISM IN HOME DESIGN CAN CLEAR THE CLUTTER AND ADD MEANING.

Interior design minimalism often conjures images of cold, austere environments, sleek, uber-modern apartments and a single, strategically placed vase on an empty bookshelf. It’s true, minimalism lends itself to these esthetics, but in practice it’s about a lot more than clean counters. Drawing its attributes into your own home could create a surprising outcome.

Spruce spoke with an architecture professor and an interior designer about what minimalism actually is, and how embracing it can draw you to a lesscluttered, more meaningful life.

A MINIMAL DEFINITION

Minimalism, at large, is a philosophy that encourages drawing focus to what you value most.

Though this process sounds straightforward, it can be tough. Its execution means getting rid of anything that interferes with your passions and goals.

“It’s hard because we all collect things over the years that are important or special,” says Raubyn Rothschild, the lead designer at Victoria-based Rothschild West Design + Planning, who often applies minimalist thinking to her interior design work.

Consider a passionate baker. This person may wish to take their hobby more seriously — maybe even sell their work at a local Saturday market. The problem is, they don’t have much counter space at home and what counter space they do have is crowded with kitchenware, tableware, cookbooks and knick-knacks of all sorts.

The answer isn’t necessarily to renovate your kitchen, throw on a marble countertop and add an expanded island. Instead, by getting rid of everything in your kitchen that isn’t integral, you’ll make room to pursue your passion.

MINIMAL INTERIORS

Despite the clichés, minimal interiors don’t actually have a specific look. Instead, they emphasize purpose, intentionality and clarity.

“The goal isn’t to strip spaces of their warmth and soul — it’s to get clear on

DESIGN INSPO
20 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
DASHA ARMSTRONG

5 WAYS TO “MINIMALIZE” YOUR HOME

Here are a handful of easy ways to start applying minimal philosophy to your home right away.

AIM FOR CLEAR COUNTERTOPS

Opposite page: In a minimalist environment, your space is meant to allow you to enjoy the elements of life you’re most interested in, be it reading, cooking, art or any hobby.

what’s most essential to the person living there,” says Rothschild. “I feel like people are really starting to understand the connection between what they’re passionate about in their everyday life, and how the space you spend time in every day contributes to that.”

This doesn’t mean throwing out all but the essential. The philosophy leaves room for things that bring you joy, too.

“There’s a lot of emotional value as you cast your eyes around a space, seeing only things that are meaningful to you — whether it’s a framed drawing to you from somebody you know or your favourite coffee machine,” says Leslie Van Duzer, an architecture professor at the University of British Columbia.

Minimal interiors can even be regenerative.

“If you’re a doctor working 18-hour days, you want to come home and have that clarity of space … where you can rejuvenate and regenerate,” says Rothschild.

Though the philosophy is about focusing on your priorities, applying it can lend your home an understated beauty.

“If a space is uncluttered, both architecturally and with stuff, then it has the power to have some autonomy that is just about form and light and space,” says Van Duzer. “It can be very uplifting to be in a space where the architecture has such a strong presence.”

Choosing what to declutter and what to keep can feel stressful so, instead, focus your goal on clearing the space — starting with the countertops. Whether a desk littered with papers or a kitchen piled with tools, clearing these distractions will bring an instant sense of calm and possibility to your zone. Bonus points for clearing all the magnets and memos from the face of the fridge, just to see what it looks like to be more visually free.

TAKE ACTION WITH STICKY NOTES

Get honest about your home’s unique trouble spots by keeping a pad of bright sticky notes handy. For a week, every time something distracts you, slap a sticky on it. By the end, you’ll know where you really need to take action.

BUILD IN SPACE

Make more space in your home by imagining what major furniture pieces you

could do without. That feature chair might look great in the corner but if no one ever sits in it, could it become your new yoga nook — or be amplified with a light and footrest to be a functional reading area?

DECORATE WITH LESS

Home design trends encourage bringing layers of textures, baskets and wall décor to layer your space, but minimalism fans can make do with the simplest of approaches. That means clean bedspreads, single rugs, a strategically chosen wall hanging to add a spark of personality without the overwhelm.

KEEP COLOURS SIMPLE

A true minimal mindset doesn’t have to be austere, but it means picking a signature colour (or two) and keeping it thematic around a room — or whole house — instead of overwhelming with a rainbow of colour and pattern. Neutrals can still offset a bold blue, but go easy on the mixing.

Above: Keeping your surfaces as clear as possible isn’t just about decluttering unnecessary items — it’s about creating a showcase for what matters most.
21 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
DASHA ARMSTRONG
“MAKING MINIMALIST ARCHITECTURE REQUIRES MAXIMALIST EFFORT.”

LAYERS OF MINIMALISM

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to applying minimalism in your home: It depends on the person.

For example, given minimalism’s simplistic measures, something like integrating smart technologies to your home could align — controlling your TV, sound system, heaters, air conditioner and lights from your smartphone may save you time and even cut down on cords and clutter, freeing you up for what you truly want to focus on. For another person, however, learning this kind of technology might be cumbersome and time-consuming, making

it antithetical to minimalism as a philosophy.

Beyond decluttering, it’s important to remember that undertaking renovations to make your home more minimal can be difficult and costly.

“Making minimalist architecture requires maximalist effort,” says Van Duzer.

That’s because hiding architectural features, for example, or gaining more efficient storage or even planning out how to better use the kitchen takes time, energy and creativity. Those insights can come with significant price tags, but the payoff is a life that’s more aligned with what you idealize.

If your home or the things within it have

Choosing a subdued palette, with a clean bedspread and few layers, may counter current design trends, but it’s the on-point choice for a minimal lifestyle.

been negatively affecting your ability to focus — especially on work, hobbies, long-term goals you value — minimalism may be for you. Rothschild says deciding to invest in a minimal mindset (however individual) can create a shift throughout a person’s life.

“It really comes down to me speaking with the client,” she says. “It’s all about their belongings, their time, their energy and their relationships.”

LEARN HOW TO LIVE GREEN

Living green indoors is just as important as living green outdoors. From kitchen taps to toilet bowls, how we use and treat water inside the home can limit pollution and waste. This spring, consider the following actions to protect and conserve water in your home:

• Limit tap time and check for leaks

• Use drain-friendly house cleaners

• Choose high-efficiency fixtures and appliances

Together we can Live Green and build a vibrant, livable and sustainable region. Save water and prevent pollution at home! Learn how to Live Green at www.crd.bc.ca/livegreen.

crd.bc.ca/livegreen

DASHA ARMSTRONG
BUSINESS PROFILE
22 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

OCEANVOLT SOLAR & EV

Enhancing the EV Ownership Experience

Oceanvolt Solar & EV, based in Victoria, B.C., is a leading provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions and solar power systems who make it easy for customers to transition to sustainable transportation and renewable energy sources. This team of licensed electricians ensures safe and efficient installations, complying with all necessary permits and regulations. Whether homeowners are looking to install a new charging station for their electric vehicle or harness solar power for their homes, Oceanvolt Solar & EV stands ready to support and guide them toward a more sustainable future.

With a focus on enhancing the EV ownership experience, Oceanvolt Solar & EV offers Level 2 fast charging stations for residential properties. Unlike standard Level 1 chargers that plug into regular wall outlets and can take 24 to 48 hours for a full charge, Level 2 chargers deliver significantly faster charging times — up to 9 times faster. Oceanvolt Solar & EV also facilitates access to various rebate programs to support customers in their transition to EV charging.

Owners or residents of single-family homes, row homes or duplexes can receive

rebates of up to 50% of costs (up to $350) for eligible Level 2 EV charger installations. Moreover, an additional $250 funding is available for customers opting for smart EV chargers. The company also addresses concerns regarding electrical capacity with a new $200 rebate for EV power management devices, ensuring efficient installations without the need for costly electrical upgrades.

Oceanvolt Solar & EV also offers rooftop solar system installations, which offset electric bills and reduce reliance on traditional utility sources. By integrating solar technology with EV charging solutions, the company provides comprehensive options for homeowners seeking sustainable and cost-effective energy solutions.

With a range of EV charging solutions, solar power installations and advice regarding rebate programs, Oceanvolt Solar & EV emerges as a trusted partner for those embracing electric vehicles and renewable energy. Oceanvolt Solar & EV’s commitment to quality, efficiency and customer satisfaction establishes them as the ideal choice for Vancouver Island homeowners looking for a smooth transition to greener living.

BUSINESS PROFILE oceanvoltsolarandev.ca | 236-464-2979

THE SCIENCE of ACOUSTICS

JEFFREY BOSDET/SPRUCE MAGAZINE
24 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

Architectural solutions for creating a quiet home.

In a world that is constantly stimulating us, we seek refuge in the comfort of our homes — the place we can kick off our shoes, throw on those sweatpants and begin to unplug. Unfortunately, that process of unwinding can be interrupted fairly quickly by noise pollution. Protecting your sense of peace can come down to building in quiet.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF SOUND TRANSFER

Sound is the source of many of life’s pleasures: music, laughter, the soothing voice of a loved one. Given the wrong context, however, it can be the source of great agony.

“Sound can create stress,” says Tim Agar, principal at Horizon Pacific Contracting. “And stress within your home is something that should be considered very carefully.”

With rising costs and increased housing demands, municipalities are encouraging multi-family living arrangements, from rental units to multi-generational living. But those tighter quarters can come with some additional challenges — namely, noise transfer.

“With this new change in multi-family living arrangements, we need to reassess the sound this creates in a home,” says Agar, noting this should, ideally, be done at the design-and-build phase.

Whether you’re planning to put in a basement suite for your in-laws while having young kids at home, or making a space to rent to help with the mortgage, creating a sense of privacy for all household members is key to ensuring a comfortable living environment.

“It begins with a conversation about how each individual lives in their home,” says Agar. “Lifestyle and family needs dictate how much sound we need to account for.”

Perhaps those needs include a pair of empty nesters who downsized into a condo but aren’t yet accustomed to living near noisy neighbours, or a family member who does shift work and needs a quiet room for sleep while the rest of the crew is going about their day. No matter the makeup, having control over the sound transference in a home will directly affect the living experience for everyone occupying it.

START WITH THE WALLS

The place to start with controlling acoustics is the envelope of the room or space: the walls and ceiling.

Using a combination of specialized materials and thoughtful design will be the most effective in prohibiting sound transference, and building these into the initial design is important for future-proofing rooms for various needs ahead.

“The goal is to use materials that will both block and absorb sound,” says Isaac Wicks, manager at Capital City Drywall & Painting.

For blocking sound, the idea is to isolate the frame of the room from the materials, which stops sound waves from travelling to the next room or space. There are a few ways this can be done. One is staggered framing, which has the targeted room on a detached frame from the rest of the home — this inhibits sound vibration from travelling to the rest of the house structure. Another way is to add a framing assembly using a resilient bar and isolation clips, which help segregate the structure while absorbing sound waves to stop transference.

After blocking measures are in place, it’s time to add density

Opposite page: Using high-quality insulation materials is crucial for creating an appropriate sound barrier between rooms. The next step is multiple layers of drywall or QuietRock. Right: In this Horizon Pacific Contracting project, soundproofing was essential for a family with five young boys. A custom playroom was added into the build, featuring a slide, climbing wall and elaborate soundproofing to ensure this space could be filled with play on rainy days without disturbing the rest of the open-concept house.
SPRUCE | SPRING 2024 25
JOSHUA LAWRENCE

to absorb any resilient sound. This can be done by using high-quality insulation mixed with multiple layers of drywall. Those wanting the highest level of soundproofing, while also saving on space, can use a product called QuietRock: a led-infused material that is equivalent to seven or eight sheets of regular drywall.

“We can work with one, or all of these systems depending on the level of soundproofing desired,” says Wick.

DESIGN YOUR OWN SOUND

Beyond the bare structure, there are a few design interventions that contribute to sound transference within a home.

“You’ll want to avoid having too many reflective surfaces,” says Agar. “Large windows and hardwood floors will allow sound waves to bounce and project to the rest of the house.”

Agar suggests adding lots of carpets and thick draperies that can absorb some of that reflective sound, or opting for polished concrete on the floor, which is a much quieter alternative to hardwood.

With open-concept spaces still on trend, it is more difficult to control sound within living zones. This is where building a separate scullery kitchen can be useful when the whole family is occupying one space and you want to be conscious of noise.

“MANY PEOPLE ARE SENSITIVE TO MULTI-LAYERED SOUNDS WITHOUT REALIZING IT.”

ACCOUNT FOR BACKGROUND NOISE

When discussing sound pollution within a home, it can’t go without mentioning the one area most people overlook: noise from everyday appliances and mechanical systems.

“Over time, these low-frequency sounds contribute to people’s overall well-being,” says Agar.

Placing any large mechanical systems (such as heat pumps) off-site — or at least away from the windows to the primary bedroom, for example — will help tremendously in quieting a home. In addition, adding an acoustical lining to any duct chambers will decrease sound exponentially.

Other common appliances that create noise are bathroom and range-hood fans. Agar suggests using a high-quality, motion-censored fan in bathrooms, as this prohibits fans from running longer than needed. For range hoods, using a product like Vent-A-Hood, which focuses on creating quiet-sounding, highly efficient fans, will help with those open-concept spaces.

“Many people are sensitive to multi-layered sounds without realizing it,” says Agar.

Whether your next project will be building a media room for your teenagers, a private meditation room or a rental suite, having solutions for sound transference will prove beneficial to you — and others — in your overall living experience.

Vent-A-Hood kitchen ventilation systems (available at Trail Appliances) boast the industry’s lowest sone rating, a measure of loudness. VENT-A-HOOD
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QUIET DOWN: DIY SOUNDPROOFING HACKS

❑ Plush rugs

Add dense rugs to absorb sound and reduce echoes.

❑ Heavy drapes

Choose thick curtains to block noise from entering.

❑ Wall hangings

Decorative panels and tapestries dampen sound waves effectively.

❑ Bookshelf barrier

Place bookshelves strategically to absorb and break up sound.

❑ Furniture layout

Rearrange furniture to create barriers for sound waves.

❑ Soft furnishings

Opt for plush cushions and soft upholstery for noise absorption.

❑ Seal gaps

Use weather stripping to close gaps around windows and doors.

❑ Decorative screens

Stylish screens act as both visual appeal and sound barriers.

❑ Door upgrades

Replace hollow-core doors with solid ones for better sound insulation.

❑ Soft wall coverings

Choose textured wallpapers to dampen sound reflections.

Above: Textiles make a significant difference, even if you aren’t completing a full soundproofing reno. Rugs, drapes, tapestries and any fabrics can soften sound reverberations.

Below: Layers can support a quieted space, like this example of a panel bookshelf set behind a sofa. To reduce sound transfer, ensure furniture isn’t pushed up against any walls.

Textured wallpaper, like “Haptic Clay” from Graham & Brown, can soften ambient noise pollution.

Robyn Wildman

Robyn Wildman

Top rated in Customer Service

Top rated in Customer Service

Robyn Wildman

Why work with Robyn?

Robyn Wildman

Multiple MLS® Award Winner

Multiple MLS ® Award Winner

Why work with Robyn?

“I can honestly say, having purchased & sold many homes, this sale & purchase was the smoothest transaction I ever had. Robyn’s knowledge of the market, expertise, & customer service skills are readily apparent. Her customer service approach cannot be surpassed. In the future, she will be the only agent we would use. An absolute pleasure to deal with.”

Top rated in Customer Service

Top rated in Customer Service

Multiple MLS® Award Winner

Multiple MLS® Award Winner

Why work with Robyn?

Why work with Robyn?

“Robyn and her team are top notch! She was a true partner in helping us find and then purchase the home we wanted. Her deep expertise, sharp eye for detail, high advocacy and thorough approach made sure we got the best deal. I highly recommend [The Wildman Group] if you want a strong, responsive partner for your real estate needs.”

- J.V.

“I can honestly say, having purchased & sold many homes, this sale & purchase was the smoothest transaction I ever had. Robyn’s knowledge of the market, expertise, & customer service skills are readily apparent. Her customer service approach cannot be surpassed. In the future, she will be the only agent we would use. An absolute pleasure to deal with.”

- K.W.

“I can honestly say, having purchased & sold many homes, this sale & purchase was the smoothest transaction I ever had. Robyn’s knowledge of the market, expertise, & customer service skills are readily apparent. Her customer service approach cannot be surpassed. In the future, she will be the only agent we would use. An absolute pleasure to deal with.”

- J.V.

- J.V.

BUYING OR SELLING

REAL ESTATE CALL

250.818.8522

rwildman@sothebysrealty.ca

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BUYING OR SELLING REAL ESTATE CALL
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The Wildman Group 27 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

Retro Redux

A 1930s kitchen reno merges modern conveniences with vintage charm for a young family.

28 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

When David and Cloe Nicholls first discovered the cozy, 1930s-era home around the corner from their townhouse in Oak Bay, it seemed a bit too small for a family of three.

The kitchen was minuscule and a dining room didn’t even exist. Yet, there was something about the way the light played off the walls and how much care the owner had taken with every detail.

“It felt a lot like the house I grew up in,” says Cloe. “The old fireplace, the wood floors, the coved ceilings — some houses feel like a home immediately. This one did.”

With a leap of faith and a call into city planning about rules for expansion, they moved forward with the 1,600-square-foot structure.

“We weren’t looking for a huge house. We just wanted room for everyone, and to maximize the space we did have,” says David. “With no dining area or really kitchen space, there was no proper place to eat. We wondered, could we make that happen?”

The colour choices in this kitchen reno keep the space subtly in line with the building’s heritage. Walls in Benjamin Moore’s “Distant Grey” and cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s “Grey Owl” offer a quiet, understated elegance. The greytoned super-white quartzite countertops were a choice that homeowner Cloe Nicholls didn’t initially lean toward, but have since become her favourite feature.

29 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
“WE WANTED TO BE MINDFUL OF WHAT WAS ALREADY THERE AND PAY HOMAGE TO THE ORIGINAL ARCHITECTURE, BUT MAKE IT WORK FOR TODAY.”

The family called on Victoria-based design studio Bidgood to support their vision. That would result in the kitchen they never knew they could pull off in such a tight space — one that looked like it had always been there. With a multi-level, 400-squarefoot addition, the family would get exactly what they needed.

“We wanted to be mindful of what was already there and pay homage to the original architecture, but make it work for today,” says Bidgood design director Christi Rivard. “People had a different lifestyle in the 1930s. The kitchen was tiny because, back then, people didn’t gather there. Now they do.”

A MARRIAGE OF STYLES

While there was no question the addition was needed, the aim was to make it as small as possible to create enough space, bumping out the room by only eight feet. This would preserve as much green space outdoors as possible, mindful of the Nicholls’s young son, while expanding both levels by an additional 200 square feet per floor.

Before

The homeowners are quick to point out the beauty of the original building — even with its tiny footprint. The 400-squarefoot addition immediately transformed this culinary area from quaint and dated cove to a modern kitchen that looked like it always could have been there. 30 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

With such a modest expansion, it surprised everyone that the kitchen could suddenly host a dining niche with a built-in table for up to eight people, as well as accommodate all modern appliances and a generous prep area. The addition even made way for extra storage, an enlarged primary bedroom and ensuite, and a spare bedroom, den, mudroom and landing on the lower level.

“This home is a true marriage of styles. Cloe grew up in an Art Deco home and wanted that character. David wanted the home to have some contemporary elements, and keep it really light and open,” says Rivard. “We love mixing contemporary and time-honoured details. You can really see how we played with each style preference here.”

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The metamorphosis of the dining area may be the area’s greatest change, with the custom-fabricated solid red oak table and its adorning Bocci 21 Series pendant taking the place of the previous miniature dining nook. The built-in seating has become a favourite location for the family throughout the day, making space for up to eight people to gather.

With a few modern touches — like the Bocci dining chandelier and veiny, super-white quartzite counters — the rectangular kitchen now features distinctively historic architecture. Curved forms and scalloped Art Deco casing surrounds the cabinetry, and a built-in armoire across the room adds essential storage.

One of its most particular features, however, is the restrained finish of the light grey colour palette. The goal, says Rivard, was to create the atmosphere of classic time lapse; something that looked like it had always belonged and wouldn’t require an update for a long time.

“We stayed in this old farmhouse in Ontario a few times, and it had these beautiful wood floors and everything was white and light and it stuck with me that it would always be in style,” says Cloe. “We wanted to be modern and minimalist, but not without suiting the era of the house.”

The end result pleased the whole family.

“My favourite part of our whole home is the kitchen,” says David. “It’s beautiful to walk in there in the morning and make coffee, first thing, and be able to see our backyard and sit at the table. We don’t just use it for meals. It’s a great place to hang out all day.”

RESOURCE LIST

Project designer: Bidgood

Interior designer: Bidgood

Builders: Strong Built

Electrician: Capson Electric

Cabinets: Trestle Millwork

Millwork: Trestle Millwork

Tile: Stone Tile / INAX in kitchen

Kitchen appliances: Fisher Paykel

Plumbing fixtures: Brizo

Floor refinishing: Cherry Point Hardwood Floors

32 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
Above: Select pieces of art offer lively pops of colour in this space, like the Zoe Pawlak painting over the custom-built credenza. The Linear Standard pulls on the cabinetry create a touch of mid-century drama in the space, and rest in alignment with the original heritage oak hardwood floors throughout the home. Before

THE FAMILY PENTHOUSE

■ FEATURE HOME
34 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

A top-floor condo levels up its family-sized rooms with a view.

In a city where condo towers are rising like crops, finding one that will accommodate two adults, children and a big dog is still a rarity.

So, when a three-bedroom, three-and-ahalf bathroom penthouse unit appeared, it was something one Manitoba family couldn’t pass up. They wanted room to move around without getting in each other’s way. They wanted a new build. And they wanted a view.

What they got was more.

Wrapping around the top floor of one of Victoria’s tallest buildings, with over-height windows at every turn, this condo offers sweeping, 180-degree perspectives of the city and its surrounding wilds — Mount Baker, the Olympic Peninsula, Sooke Hills, the Inner Harbour and even an eagle’s aerie perch over the city.

But that remarkable view came with some sacrifices. Namely, inside the 1,761-squarefoot vantage point.

The homeowner’s lament had to do with a particularly long interior wall that ran from the kitchen through the dining room, living room and on to the entrance of the primary suite. This, along with the uninspired white that was ubiquitous throughout the home — interrupted only by a steel panel covering the HVAC unit as well as an awkward double-door closet and a trio of very basic heating vents.

“I called it my ugly wall,” says the homeowner, who asked to remain unnamed. “The view is where you want to face, but you’re trying to configure the room and you just want to avoid it because there was nothing.”

Megan McKeage of Merge Design Studio admits she was a little shocked by the wall on her first visit to the penthouse and knew that’s where the biggest splash was needed.

sunlight is a highlight of this three-bedroom downtown condo. The nearly 1,800-square-foot unit features a muted colour palette and engineered hardwood floors that accentuate the sweep of the window-lined main room. The curving LED light above the table is from Victoria’s Mike Randall Design. 35 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
All-day
The homeowner dubbed this her “ugly wall” and was determined to break up the unappealing length of white (see before photo). Vertical wood slats create a warmth and tame the acoustics.
36 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
Rounded edges inform the concrete pillars throughout the condo and offer a mid-century vibe. The two removable black panels hide the HVAC system, but pop off for easy filter changes. A sliding barn door replaces sterile-looking closet doors.
Before

“In this space, that’s their only wall to put anything on, and the rest is all glass,” says McKeage.

Her Merge partner, Evan Eunson, understood the complexities of the next steps — taming an out-of-control whiteout.

“You’ve got the white columns, the white walls. The windows let all that light in and everything becomes really white,” he says. “Then that theme was carried through every room. White, white, white.”

Built in 2021, the 20th-floor condo features some high-end elements: three bedrooms, all with their own ensuites, a kitchen full of Sub-Zero, Wolf and Fisher & Paykel appliances, a generous laundry room, solid quartz countertops, walk-in closets and 250 square feet of premium outdoor space over two balconies.

The homeowner, who had some background in interior design, worked alongside the team of Merge, J MEL Interior Design Team and builder Maxwell Developments. Their discreet redo put heated floors in two of the bedrooms and solid oak doors throughout. There’s textured wood wallpaper in the half-bath. Closets were upgraded, custom millwork fashioned hidden storage spaces and, impressively, a feature-wall-sized headboard in the primary bedroom. These features wouldn’t be complete without dramatic dimmable LED strip lighting — all while navigating existing HVAC and firesuppression systems that had to be worked around.

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37 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
HANDCRAFTED DESIGNER BATHROOMS

The wood slats remove some of the glare originally cast over the too-white room. At the end of the wall is a doorway into the primary suite (see close-up on previous page) which, when closed, is hidden by the same slats on the wall. The fireplace is a three-sided, 60-inch Valor electric, featuring a Cambria quartz surround. The narrow design of the Valor worked so the wall didn’t have to come out a foot or two into the living space. The matte finish of the Samsung Frame TV ensures no reflection — a concern in a room where the only walls are windows.

38 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

The primary suite was dramatically transformed by the addition of a wooden headboard and textured green wallpaper. Originally, there wasn’t even a recess for the bed, just a bulkhead across the top. The homeowner wanted a built-in look without actually having a built-in bed. A dimmable LED light strip runs around the entire headboard creating relaxing ambient lighting, while two pendant lights hang over the new floating bedside tables. There’s also a large walk-in closet near the door.

39 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
“ADDING WOOD WAS SOMETHING WE WANTED TO DO JUST TO BRING SOME WARMTH IN HERE.”

It is, of course, the main living space interior wall that’s the star of the show. What started off as 20 feet of uncreative drywall was given new life with a finish of white oak slats that sensuously curve around a moodenhancing electric fireplace set in elegant Cambria quartz. At one end, the unwieldy French closet doors were replaced by a spacesaving barn door. At the other end, the door to the primary suite rests hidden behind a continuation of those wooden slats.

“You have the foyer closet, the dining room, the TV and a bedroom access point all on that wall,” explains Eunson. “That’s why we kept the slats going right across, to not have all these breaks in the wall.”

And to play with something vertical against the wall’s long horizontal line. The designers managed to hide the HVAC system behind black mesh panels and make air grills disappear behind millwork. Subtle LED lighting just below the ceiling, and along the length of the wall, provides subtle ambience, day or night.

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40 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

the homeowner’s children. Heated floors were added to the bedrooms. The builder-grade hollow doors throughout were all replaced with solid white oak doors, giving an additional pop of warmth. The designers also created several bespoke storage spaces like this one (facing page) just inside the primary suite.

Reflecting on how the wall transitioned, Eunson says, before the changes, the wall felt too narrow and far too bright.

“Now the room feels bigger and way warmer and softer,” he says.

The homeowner loves the trendy, midcentury vibe of the slat wood style and the way it personalizes the room.

“Adding wood was something we wanted to do just to bring some warmth in here,” she says. “And a bit acoustically, too. It’s a long, rectangular building and you could get a lot of sound bouncing around before.”

Eunson says one of the difficulties was finding a space for everything.

“It’s not a very wide room, so how do we put in a fireplace, give some depth to the wall, but not encroach into the living space? You have to fit in a couch and chairs. It’s always a challenge to make things look seamless and fit in,” he says.

The homeowner says the design process was her favourite part of the undertaking.

“Sitting down [with the builder and designers] and going through all the different iterations… what are we going to do with this wall, for instance?”

The homeowner was aware of the limitations faced when carrying out condo renovations.

“You can’t put an addition on. It has to be an electric fireplace, we couldn’t do gas. You can’t move the HVAC or the sprinklers,” she says. “But, maybe, that ends up giving you better solutions because you just end up being more tightly focused.”

RESOURCE LIST

Contractor: Maxwell Developments

Interior styling: JOMEL Interior Design

Interior millwork design: Merge Design Studio

Millwork: Thomas Philips Woodworking

Electrical: Pacific Heights Electric

Paint/wallpaper: Brock Solid Paint Co.

Finishing/hardware: High Tide Interiors

Mechanical: Avalon Mechanical Consultants, Pinnacle Fire Protection

Plumbing: Oceanview Mechanical

Tiling: YMI Tiling Ltd.

Drywall: Alliston Interiors

Above: A custom desk, which wraps around a concrete pillar, was built in the second of three bedrooms for one of
41 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
42 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

PRAISE FOR THE PASSIVHAUS

THIS ENERGY-SAVING BUILDING METHOD DOESN’T COMPROMISE ON DESIGN OR COMFORT, AND SOME SAY IT’S BECOMING THE OBVIOUS CHOICE.

It’s been more than three decades since homebuilding became an act of environmental advocacy.

The year was 1991 when German-based architect Dr. Wolfgang Feist built what he termed a “Passivhaus.” The build pulled inspiration from earlier iterations of energy-conservation houses in the ’70s and ’80s. Still, the home was revolutionary in its structure. It had solar collectors for hot water, a subsoil heat exchanger for airflow and a grass roof, all the while looking nothing short of a mansion. It would change the world’s ideas around what was possible in home design.

And that was only the beginning.

Since then, this idea of building resourceful, more energy-efficient homes has expanded to North America. Passive construction is quickly becoming the preferred choice as people around the globe face the direct impact consumption is having on the planet.

“As a society, we are coming to terms with climate change and the need to build smarter homes,” says Allison Holden-Pope, Victoria-based architect and principal of One SEED Architecture + Interiors.

Since 2016, Holden-Pope has been on a mission to bring Passivhaus projects into the design industry in hopes of inspiring a more mindful building approach, especially on the West Coast.

“When designing a home, the focus shouldn’t be on looks only,” she says, “but also on the impact it will have on the homeowner and the planet for years to come.”

Passive homes rely on three main principles: creating a highly insulated and airtight envelope, optimizing orientation to the sun and using a Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system. With these principles in place, a home can function at a consistently comfortable temperature without the need for traditional heating or cooling systems.

In a nutshell: passive homes are self-regulating homes that don’t emit harmful substances such as carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere while saving the homeowner on hydro costs.

PASSIVE HOMES RELY ON THREE MAIN PRINCIPLES: CREATING A HIGHLY INSULATED AND AIRTIGHT ENVELOPE, OPTIMIZING ORIENTATION TO THE SUN AND USING A HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATION SYSTEM

Bird’s Wing Passivhaus + earned its name from its unique architecture and the energy objectives of this custom duplex that includes two primary dwelling units as well as two flexible lock-off suites. The home is considered a “net-zero” house, meaning its solar roof generates enough energy to power the need of those who live there.

43 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

BUILDING FOR TOMORROW

One of Holden-Pope’s recently completed projects, nicknamed Bird’s Wing Passivhaus +, makes exemplary use of these principles. This multi-unit, multi-family fourplex creates an energyefficient home that blends in seamlessly with its location in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood.

“It was certainly a challenge designing four homes in one while staying true to Passivhaus principles,” says Holden-Pope, “and, of course, without compromising on the design.”

Holden-Pope began by designing the airtight envelope shell while strategically planning window placement. Since passive homes need proper sun exposure to regulate temperatures, large, southfacing windows and minimal north-facing windows are the key to creating that balance. However, since this home has four units needing windows for daylight, Holden-Pope had to get creative.

N“I chose tall, narrow windows on the north elevation to allow sunlight in without losing too much heat,” she says.

Everything about this home connects to its energy efficiency and comfort. The surrounding outdoor spaces provide flow from inside to out, with south-facing exposure and a stone wall for privacy. Heat exchange is affected by the dark tones of the fibre cement cladding exterior. Its colour was inspired by the hues of the Great Blue Heron.

44 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
GARAGE

A design objective for this high-performance build was to bring up to four households under the same “wing,” including a brother and sister and their families, with communal outdoor living for larger gatherings. While each space is fully customized, the suites provide flexibility, with the same large windows and their own “front” doors with access to the shared outdoor space.

The diagram to the left details how compressed the footprint is for this build, while fitting in four unique living spaces — indoors and outdoors.

DUPLEX
W/ TWO LOCK-OFF SUITES
FOURPLEX Re-Creating Spaces for 20 Years. green-island-builders.com VICTORIA + NANAIMO JODY BECK 45 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

Using a narrow design allowed for an application of insulation on the upper windows to block excess heat transference. Looking at the exterior of the building, you wouldn’t suspect this is a simple rectangular frame, typical of Passivhaus designs.

“What’s nice about passive homes is that, once the envelope shell is secured, you can build on top of that to add architectural articulation,” says Holden-Pope.

In other words, despite their standard format, not all Passivhauses look the same.

Bird’s Wing got its name from the gabled roof design, which wraps around the side of the building, creating an outdoor deck for the top unit. Though on-site energy generation isn’t a requirement of passive homes, Holden-Pope built a photovoltaic roof (a fancy term for a solar roof), which uses PV panels to convert the photons from sunlight into electricity.

Due to the high energy efficiency of the home, that roof generates enough on-site energy to power four kitchens, four TVs and four sets of appliances, making this a “net-zero” home. This also makes Bird’s Wing applicable for Passivhaus Plus Certification: a step up from those early iterations, recognizing homes that generate more energy than they consume.

Above: Adaptability is a principal of Passivhaus building, and the smaller suites offer a compressed version of the main units, perfect for rental, in-law or guest suites when needed.

Left: Accessibility is a key consideration for aging in place. The entry design for each unit incorporated wide areas for movement, as well as low-threshold front doors should mobility aids ever be needed. The living spaces remain on one level and include low, accessible cabinetry for easy livability.

46 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

The large kitchens in the main units include modern, minimalist vibes to anchor sustainable materials with inspired motifs.

The house is vinyl free, and does not use gas-burning appliances to ensure fossil fuels are not used in the future.

The structure favoured materials that could easily be dismantled, reused or recycled, and adhesives were avoided wherever possible. Indoor air quality was also taken into consideration when selecting paints, stains and all interior finishes.

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Kyle Sawyer Construction

“A passive home is a healthy home,” says Holden-Pope, noting that a mandate she has in her own work is to ensure her projects use non-toxic, low-carbon building materials.

For Bird’s Wing, Holden-Pope took a lowembodied carbon approach, limiting any fossil fuel-based materials.

“Using sustainable products paired with Passivhaus principles just makes sense,” she says. “As an industry, we’ve been building houses based on an outdated method — one that doesn’t take into account the current state of our climate crisis.”

Holden-Pope believes the climate changes taking place are our responsibility to fix and, for her part, she’s dedicated her work

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to making sure the architectural industry has a role in supporting the advancement of that conversation.

“Passivhaus theory isn’t some hightechnology invention or fast trend,” says Holden-Pope. “It’s taking the same materials we’ve been using, but in a smarter, more efficient way that is more responsive to our environment.”

A component of comfort in Passivhaus structures includes the super-insulated envelope (with 16-inch-thick walls), as seen in the cross-section of this bath area. The result is thermal regulation, with no drafts or temperature swings for a quiet, peaceful experience.

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Interior Mixology

BLENDING VINTAGE AND MODERN DÉCOR CREATES SPACES IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN.

ARMSTRONG 50 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024
DASHA

Most people have one: A beloved, if somewhat out-of-place, relic (or 10) that’s been handed down through the family and doesn’t exactly match the feel of your home.

You don’t want to give it away, and it feels wrong to keep it in storage, but how to make it work in a way that doesn’t disrupt your carefully crafted esthetic? Can a dreary but beloved painting made by a late uncle or your grandmother’s crystal bunny collection that you’ve loved since you were five become a part of your living room without looking stuffy?

The answer is yes. But it comes with a cost.

SCARCITY IS KEY

Blending eras — and tastes — is a bit of a specialty move in the design world. To figure out how to make it work, you might have to remove everything and build the culture of the space around that one, prized element, adding only what’s necessary to bring the room to life.

“Sometimes, less is more — it’s important not to overcrowd a space, especially when you have pieces you want to stand out,” says Jenny Martin, founder and principal designer at Jenny Martin Design, who notes that many of her clients design their homes around beloved family treasures. “If you’re wanting to have a more contemporary interior, it’s important that these old-world pieces aren’t dominating the space.”

When mixing the old with the new, she says the key is to pick cohesive finishes that complement both elements.

If you are working with a big piece like a painting or sculpture, Martin suggests investing in an art light or two, which can draw specific attention to that one part of the room. If the piece looks too stark, consider a carefully curated selection of books and plants to soften the transition and bring some layering to the space.

Opposite page: Successfully blending two styles, as in these Jenny Martin Design projects, involves making things look like they’ve always belonged. The key is using restraint and pairing just enough “new” with “old” that the two don’t overwhelm each other.

Above: Finding just the right pieces to create a mood in your space means distilling collections of things down to choice items that tell a story, like the heritage riding boots and heirloom pottery seen here.

When It’s a Large Piece

Let it have its moment. If it’s important enough to keep, give a significant treasure its own place in your home, celebrating and syncing it to the room with accent lighting.

Ease the abruptness of a dramatic shift from historic to modern by blending the space around it with transitional elements (like books, botanicals, pillows or textures) to soften the space.

Lean in and pull colour from your treasure through wall paint, rugs or accessories that tie the room together with thematic resonance.

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DASHA ARMSTRONG

LEAN INTO ORIGINAL

Designer Amy McGeachy of McGeachy Design Studio says painting the room based on hues in an item can ensure it blends well with the rest of the space while maintaining its presence.

“Say it’s an original art piece. It’s a great way to pull colours out of that piece to really make it meaningful,” says McGeachy. “It’s a win-win situation, because you’re not choosing things from Home Sense that don’t have any value to you.”

As McGeachy points out, choosing something because it’s trendy is “so passé.” And heritage items are anything but that.

If you are displaying lots of little things, McGeachy’s tip is to try for small groupings or the odd one here and there versus having an entire area dedicated to a collection. Unlike previous generations, today’s home dwellers are increasingly focused on decluttering to ensure the home feels clean and functional. That doesn’t mean all the small treasures need to go to the basement. McGeachy herself has a curio cabinet on display in her home that features her mom’s crystal glasses, a piece from her grandmother’s Royal Doulton set (given to each of the grandchildren) and her baby cup.

When It’s a Collection of Small Things

If the piece (or pieces) you’d like to display are small and many, choose your favourites and create a small, interesting cluster instead of displaying all of them.

If choosing is too hard, keep the layout interesting and not overwhelming. For instance, scattering the pieces in groups among a few succulents instead of grouping them together on one level.

Try offsetting small features with larger objects like a lamp, vase or plant (in limited quantity) to break up the monotony.

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SHOW OFF THE STORY

Whether it features a single statement piece or a collection, the goal in a well-balanced room is to create spaces that draw the eye without being jarring (unless that’s your goal — brutalism is having a moment).

If built-in niches are out of the question, open, floating shelves are a popular, affordable way to showcase a showpiece. McGeachy also recommends the use of curio cabinets that suit the style of the home (such as mid-century modern or contemporary country) to house items that need a pied-à-terre.

Be sure to mix up what goes inside, though. The thing about heirlooms and vintage décor is that they need a supporting cast to look at home in our modern world.

“I think it comes down to the scale and colour, versus matching styles together,” McGeachy says. “You can mix super modern and soften it up with vintage pieces or antiques. It’s important to have things with meaning in your space; things that have a story to them — maybe it’s something someone saved for, or some cool design piece handed down through a family.”

WHEN IT’S TIME TO LET GO

Sometimes, we hold on to pieces we don’t even like (or don’t fit our lives anymore) out of an obligation to someone else.

If you’re tripping over Aunt Millie’s old rocker — or you avoid sitting in it because it’s uncomfy and never did match the décor — consider this your permission slip to let someone new find meaning in an old gift.

Sending it to a thrift store, selling it online or offering it to a community centre might just unite this item with the person who will cherish it for more years to come. Wouldn’t Aunt Millie want that?

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DASHA ARMSTRONG

The Real Deal on Curb Appeal

INVESTING IN OUTER APPEARANCES MEANS MORE THAN YOU’D EXPECT WHEN LISTING A HOUSE.

Despite what your mother told you, appearances do matter — at least if you’re planning to sell your home.

It may not be what you’d expect to focus on: Surely, most important is the quality of the interior finishings, the stability of the foundation, the longevity of the roof — right? Maybe not.

The fact is, for that big return on investment, tending to the exterior (also known as curb appeal) is a strategic game changer in the world of real estate. So much so, the experts acknowledge doing a few simple outside upgrades can pay off even more than those elaborate inside jobs.

FORCING THE DOUBLE TAKE

Ever take a drive down a street and get a sensation akin to sitting in the nicest park? You notice the homes are impeccable, the yards are tidy and the street just feels good. That’s curb appeal: anything you can see from a vehicle parked at the curb. Done right, it makes you want to look longer.

Now that spring has arrived, anyone preparing to sell their home, in any part of the region, should be eyeing their exterior surroundings with an unsparing look and follow it up with rapid repairs to get the biggest bang for their buck.

Above: Beth Hayhurst, Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, captured the allure of curb appeal in one of her Victoria listings. This space invites second glances, with invitations for potential buyers to sit and relax and imagine their future selves enjoying the yard. Pops of colour and a general neatness imply even better things to come inside.

REAL ESTATE
54 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

According to a 2020 study done by the Journal of Real Estate Finance, curb appeal can generate up to seven per cent of a home’s sale price. On a $1.5 million property, that’s $105,000 of value.

“Curb appeal is super, super important,” stresses Beth Hayhurst, a Victoria Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “The outside of a home is usually the first picture a buyer sees online. The first impression must compel a buyer to actually want to see the property in person.”

Today, many would-be buyers start their searches online. Once the buyer is outside the home, the exterior sets the tone even before the inside is explored.

Hayhurst, also a professional lifestyle photographer, says a buyer’s feelings and emotions when pulling up to a home will say a lot about what happens next. If the home and property look rundown or unkempt, buyers wonder, ‘What’s going on inside?’ she says.

OUTSIDE APPEARANCES

Even though Greater Victoria is known for multiple offers on less-than magnificent properties, a seller can squeeze more out of their home’s value if they squeeze in time for outside detailing.

Hayhurst likes to do a property walk-around to advise clients of the priority jobs. It could be deferred maintenance, such as cleaning gutters and eaves, removing moss and debris from the roof, pruning hedges, trees and shrubs, weeding, power-washing decks, driveways, walkways and other exterior areas, washing windows, doors, fixtures and repairing decks and gates.

“You can do a cleanup without spending a lot of money,” Hayhurst says. “I usually recommend they work with what they have.”

Hayhurst’s top pick for improving curb appeal — or just reducing the number of folks who will turn away — is addressing a decrepit deck: fix it, replace it or remove it. As well, get the lawn looking healthy. Edge the garden and define beds. Declutter the yard. Purchase black mulch.

“[Black mulch] instantly cleans up the garden, adds definition and contains plants,” she says. “It’s my favourite item for huge impact with little cost.”

WORTHWHILE BEAUTY MARKS

Lawrie Keogh has been a registered interior designer for almost 30 years and is the interior design manager with Lida Construction. In addition to an exterior cleanup, she says sometimes a fresh coat of exterior paint is worth it, particularly if the homeowner handles the labour.

Related to exterior painting is the front door. If it’s one of Victoria’s ubiquitous white doors, paint it red, blue or green.

“It makes an initial impact,” Keogh says.

Hold off on the hot pink, though. A tasteful colour with wide appeal is best at the point of selling — anything too niche and you risk deterring people with differing tastes.

ACCORDING TO A 2022 COST VS. VALUE STUDY IN THE U.S., INSTALLING A NEW GARAGE DOOR PROVIDED THE BEST RETURN ON INVESTMENT OF A VARIETY OF HOME PROJECTS, AT 93 PER CENT.

The 25-year-old garage door may also be worth replacing, but ensure the new one complements the home’s current style, Keogh says. According to a 2022 Cost vs. Value study in the U.S., installing a new garage door provided the best return on investment (ROI) of a variety of home projects, at 93 per cent.

Front-entrance fixes are fab, too: new hardware, a mailbox, light fixtures and a doormat are high-impact changes, despite the ease with which anyone could do this themselves. Adding planters, hanging baskets, solar lighting or wreaths can also make a difference, but keep the style consistent with the interior.

“Extend the staging to the outside,” Keogh recommends.

THE 15-SECOND RULE

Tammi Dimock, a Sooke-based Realtor for over 25 years, knows first impressions are crucial for home sales — even in a seller’s market.

“Within 15 seconds of arriving they [buyers] make a decision,” says Dimock, with Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty.

Dimock says buyers visualize themselves living in a home as it is right away, and their senses play a huge role in decision-making. Though it’s true some people will invest in a property they plan to renovate, it’s easier to steer the price on a turn-key situation.

“The best thing to do is declutter, clean the yard and paint,” she says. “The best things are the cheapest.”

Dimock estimates that half the homes in her market require some sort of outside sprucing up, which could be anything from adding colour to removing garbage. Conveying that message to sellers has to be handled sensitively.

“It can be a very delicate situation to ask someone to clean up,” she says.

When it comes to curb appeal, buyers can — and will — scope out neighbouring yards, and they undisputedly play a role in the realized value of your home.

“There’s not much you can do if a neighbour’s yard looks like a dump,” Dimock says. “Hoarders are out of your control. [But] it will affect your sale.”

Setting up a strategic hedge, fence or barrier to block an unsightly neighbour could help you out. However, if that’s out of your price or time range, focus on what you can.

YOU DESERVE IT

Beyond unmanageable factors, is it actually worth doing costly outdoor upgrades before selling? Hayhurst says it’s situation-dependent.

An outdoor pool, for example, may not have the best ROI at selling time — maintenance alone can be a deterrent for some — but if your own quality of life was bolstered by the pool while you lived there, that’s a value in itself. Other pricey outside undertakings with uncertain ROIs include replacing grass with turf (some don’t like it), creating outdoor living spaces and kitchens (some won’t use them), installing irrigation systems or even hardscaping — including permanent garden features, such as a fountain or firepit, or even rebuilding a crumbling driveway.

That doesn’t mean don’t do them. It just means don’t expect to drive up the price too far because you have. Like many modifications, the best time to do them is early and for yourself, rather than for potential buyers.

“For the added expense, it might not be enough to be impactful [to the selling price],” Keogh says, with one clarifying nuance. “If they [potential buyers] can say, ‘Oh, that’s done,’ that does make a significant impact.”

55 SPRUCE | SPRING 2024

THE HOME EDIT

Wabi-sabi: Embracing the Imperfect

HOW A CENTURIES-OLD JAPANESE PHILOSOPHY CAN HELP YOU RETHINK HOME DESIGN.

In a throw-away culture, it’s commonplace to live in a state of “replace.”

From aging rugs and out-of-date cupboards to that favourite old chair that’s grown wear marks over the decades — it’s likely friends and professionals will remind you there are nicer, more modern choices to help keep your home looking sharp.

The thing is, for some, this loses the story. That old chair, made by someone’s grandad, will always have more meaning than a storebought lounger. That rug still ties the room together with its creative pattern, and those cupboards are perfectly functional. The great news is there’s a philosophy that justifies keeping all of these pieces if they mean something to you.

FIND THE MEANING

Wabi-sabi is a centuries-old Japanese philosophy that encourages seeing beauty in the imperfect — and it’s applicable to everything from architecture to ceramics. While it can be misunderstood as a concept, it applies to home design through treasuring the beauty in less-than-perfect outcomes along with wear and tear.

“It’s a thoughtful approach to imperfection and adopting ideas around how to embrace that,” says Javier Campos, principal designer and architect at Vancouver-based Campos Studio.

A real-world example of this practice is a house that Campos Studio recently designed. Currently under construction in Sooke, it will sit atop a mossy incline surrounded by trees. The exterior walls will be made out of cedar strips, which, exposed to the elements, will change colour over time.

“It’s kind of alive,” says Campos. “Eventually, they’ll all turn grey in a different way.”

As if a metaphor for the ideal of perfection fading, the studio chose to highlight, instead of hide, cedar’s qualities.

IRREGULAR QUALITIES

Campos Studio also had a role in building a Vancouver open-concept laneway house that elevated the concept of wabisabi’s imperfections.

Designed for a fourth-generation Japanese-Canadian client, the exterior of the build leaned into the beauty of asymmetry — straying from the cookie-cutter rectangle into an angular, sculptural structure shaped by the rooms required. Campos says, when building from the inside out, the end result is unusual, but the team prioritized the crucial needs of the interior, then made the exterior work around that.

Things wabi-sabi — whether a building’s exterior or interior, or objects within it — share a few characteristics.

“They are made of materials that are visibly vulnerable to the effects of weathering and human treatment,” writes Leonard Koren in his book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. “They record the sun, wind, rain, heat and cold in a language of discolouration, rust, tarnish, stain, warping, shrinking, shriveling and cracking.”

Irregularity, simplicity and earthiness are other shared similarities.

Left: This home, a project by Campos Studio, was created as a laneway house in Vancouver in the principles of wabisabi. It eschews symmetrical compositions in favour of asymmetry and equilibrium. CHARLOTTE SCHMIDT OLSEN/LIVING4MEDIA
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EMA PETER

WABI-SABI AND INTERIOR DESIGN

Why would some designers seize this movement in a world where online inspiration has us looking to the “new” as the best choice?

“If you start to understand it as an idea and philosophy,” says Campos, “then you can implement it all the way from your glassware to the rest of your house.”

Buying things made to look imperfect won’t cut it — embracing genuine imperfections, however, offers a brand new way to prioritize design. Doing so requires a shift in mindset. For example, instead of purchasing a new rug, appreciate the way the sun has faded your own. Emphasize these colours, even, with a bouquet of dried flowers that draw out these shades.

BUYING THINGS MADE TO LOOK IMPERFECT WON’T CUT IT — EMBRACING GENUINE IMPERFECTIONS, HOWEVER, OFFERS A BRAND NEW WAY TO PRIORITIZE

Chances are, there are things in your home you see as old or worn out. That ceramic vase in your living room, cracked thanks to a rambunctious dog, now bugs you every time you look at it. Wabi-sabi philosophy would pose that, by accepting its imperfections, you can accept it for what it is: an object that, like everything else, develops character as it ages. Only then will you appreciate the way the veins of grey and white glue run like streams through the vase, adding texture, colour and a story.

Embracing wabi-sabi frees you to cherish beloved objects, much in the way we cherish old friends. It also naturally leans toward organic materials, live edges, muted colours, asymmetry and all things handmade — things that are meant to take on life’s storms.

Author Koren says this usually encourages fans to keep a limited palette of materials and, interestingly, keeping conspicuous features to a minimum.

“Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry,” Koren writes. “Keep things clean and unencumbered, but don’t sterilize.”

APPLYING WABI-SABI

Here are three ways to lean into wabi-sabi philosophy in your own home.

Repair, repair, repair

There’s a good chance some of what you think is unusable or worn out is only in need of a fix. For example, a rip in your sofa means you need a needle and thread, not a trip to a furniture store. Fixing damaged objects in creative ways can add interesting details to your home, including choosing a visible thread for a highlight, rather than trying to hide the mend.

Embrace imperfect objects

Cracks, discolouration and tarnish on objects can be beautiful if looked at in the right light. Instead of throwing away your “imperfect” things, try setting some out on display. Doing so may add a whole new feel to your home. And, if you really don’t like it, it’s fine to let it go, too.

Balance imperfect with perfect

Contrast the “imperfect” parts of your home, like those sun-faded walls and that nicked vase, against sleek, refined architectural features to lend your space a sense of balance.

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FINISHING TOUCH

All On

the Wall

BOLD PRINTS AND MURALS TURN ROOMS INTO “A MOMENT.”

While spring brings with it enlivening colours and patterns, the resurgence of murals and bold wallpapers has been easing into the design industry for a while.

Those eager to stay on trend don’t balk at the sight of oversized floral patterns, geometric feature walls and custom-made scenes. For the timid among us, jumping into floor-toceiling print territory may be an intimidating commitment. To understand what your space is ready for, Spruce spoke with renowned print enthusiast and interior designer Iván Meade, who cites a straightforward formula for knowing what to select.

“When it comes to wallpaper, it’s all about personal taste, but the basic rule is: the bigger

the scale in the pattern, the more visual fatigue you get,” says Meade, principal designer and founder of Meade Design Group and the Iván Meade Fabric Collection. “The smaller the scale, the smaller the chance of fatigue.”

Small-scale patterns become a texture in the wall, Meade says, making micro florals or repetitive trellises a good choice for those who feel nervous about larger murals. Smaller patterns also work better to offset art. It offers you a “lifetime” of flexibility while still infusing a space with personality.

“Some people just want to be big and bold and trendy and they will change their wallpaper every five years if they need to,” he adds. “That’s a very European approach, and it’s all about living in the now. In North

America, people want to do it once and be done with it.”

If you’re in the bold-ish middle, Meade recommends going big in a tiny area — like a powder room, pantry, mudroom or laundry that people don’t spend as much time in. The other option is to go with a custom mural designed for your space — like actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s famed dining room. Custom murals can utilize soothing colour palettes and create a continuous flow throughout the house, with visual weight nearer the floor.

“Wallpaper is kind of like pillows — it’s an expense, but it’s not a crazy expense like installing a stone wall or wood cladding,” Meade says. “If you want to be bold, you can turn your room into a moment.”

This dramatic ensuite — a project by Meade Design Group — showcases how a wallpaper mural can double as a room feature. The “Brighton Pavillion” mural by Schumacher offers stationary interest to counter the ever-changing natural views.
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