SPRUCE Spring 2021 Issue

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VICTORIA’S HOME & D E S I G N MAGAZINE

COVER STORY

Building an architectural showpiece Modern meets traditional in a heritage reno A designer reimagines his dated townhouse

INSPIRING HOMES & INTERIORS sprucemagazine.ca PM41295544


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SPRING 2021

IN THIS ISSUE

On the cover An architectural showpiece by D’Ambrosio architecture + urbanism. Page 22

FEATURES

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22

34

To transform their condo, the owners replaced a solid metal staircase with an open, airy design.

This modern house makes the most of its waterfront site with its striking rounded structure.

A Fairfield renovation brings a modern esthetic and function to this historic property.

B Y ERIN McINTOSH

B Y DAVID LENNAM

STATEMENT STAIRCASE

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CURVE APPEAL

HERITAGE NOUVEAU

B Y DANIELLE POPE

42

52

Designer Ben Brannen makes some major cosmetic changes to his 1980s townhouse.

A water feature brings a soothing focal point to this inviting naturalized landscape.

B Y KIM PEMBERTON

B Y LINDA BARNARD

A DESIGNER’S HOME MAKEOVER

THE WONDER OF WATER


100% Victoria Owned As featured in Spruce Magazine, Fall/Winter 2020 Pg.52

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IN THIS ISSUE DEPARTMENTS

12 10

EDITOR’S LETTER

B Y ATHENA McKENZIE

12

S PRUCE IT UP

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DESIGN DETAILS

Ideas for the multi-functional home.

Creative ways to use tile.

48

BUYING OR SELLING? I am dedicated to providing my clients with exceptional service, sound negotiating techniques and constant communication throughout the real estate process.

Call Andrew Maxwell for a complimentary consultation.

ASK THE EXPERT

Ed Geric, of Mike Geric Construction, believes mass timber is the natural progression for construction on the Island. BY CARLA SORRELL

56

REAL ESTATE

How the pandemic has affected the local real estate market.

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BY SHANNON MONEO

58

FINISHING TOUCH

A sophisticated black kitchen designed for maximum functionality.

250.213.2104 amaxwell@sothebysrealty.ca A N D R EW M AXWELL .CA SOT H E BYSR E A LT Y.CA Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Independently Owned and Operated. E.&O.E

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V I C TO R I A’ S H O M E & D E S I G N M AG A Z I N E

PUBLISHERS Lise Gyorkos,

Georgina Camilleri

MANAGING EDITOR Athena McKenzie

PRODUCTION MANAGER Jennifer Kühtz

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Jeffrey Bosdet

DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER Amanda Wilson

LEAD GRAPHIC DESIGNER Janice Hildybrant

ASSOCIATE GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Jo-Ann Loro, Caroline Segonnes

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Carla Sorrell ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Rebecca Juetten

CONTENT MARKETING COORDINATOR Emily Dobby

PROOFREADER Lenore Hietkamp CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Linda Barnard, , David Lennam,

Erin McIntosh, Kim Pemberton, Danielle Pope, Shannon Moneo

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Dasha Armstrong, Jeffrey Bosdet,

Joshua Lawrence

CONTRIBUTING AGENCIES Getty Images p. 56; Stocksy p. 57 ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Deana Brown,

Cynthia Hanischuk, Brenda Knapik

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ON THE COVER

An architectural showpiece by D’Ambrosio architecture + urbanism. See story page 22. Photo by Joshua Lawrence. Spruce magazine is published by Page One Publishing 580 Ardersier Road, Victoria, BC V8Z 1C7 T 250-595-7243 info@pageonepublishing.ca pageonepublishing.ca ADVERTISE IN SPRUCE MAGAZINE

Spruce is Victoria’s home and design magazine. For advertising info, please call us at 250-595-7243 or email sales@sprucemagazine.ca.

Printed in Canada by Transcontinental Printing. 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

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EDITOR’S LETTER

Design to Make Life Better

I

t’s impossible to talk about our homes right now without talking about the pandemic. It is the biggest design influence no one saw coming. In the past year, our homes have become our everything: workplace, gym, restaurant, movie theatre, and even school. “If you’ve been If you’ve been making home improvement plans, making home you’re not alone. Given how the pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our daily lives, it’s only natural improvement for homeowners to look for ways to make their space plans, you’re not more livable and functional. Maybe it was the incentive alone. Given how you needed to finally start that long-planned kitchen or the pandemic has bathroom remodel? While there was an initial drop off in home projects changed nearly last spring, at the start of the first lockdown, they have every aspect of rebounded spectacularly. A survey by the Canadianour daily lives, it’s based HomeStars discovered that 80 per cent of only natural for respondents are still planning to take on home projects despite COVID-19. homeowners to “The Canadians we surveyed, while initially cautious look for ways to when it came to having service professionals in their make their space homes, were still spending on home improvement — more livable and primarily outdoor projects and repairs around the home, although one fifth (20 per cent) of those surveyed were functional.” doing larger projects,” reads the report. A notable trend is that some of the homeowners surveyed were using their vacation money towards home improvements, with 21 per cent reallocating funds. It makes sense. If we’re going to be “stuck” at home, we might as well make it the best home possible. I didn’t get to Italy last fall, but my partner and I have started an ambitious home office project, and are investing in new desks and chairs. They might not replace the experience of seeing the 5th- and 6th-century mosaics in Ravenna, but they will make a huge difference in our day-to-day lives. The recent Home Design Trends Survey from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) supports the idea that the pandemic has impacted homeowner design preferences. It reports a big jump in the number of home offices, exercise and yoga spaces and flex rooms being requested by homeowners. While the popularity of sustainable materials, luxe outdoor living areas and spa-like bathroom sanctuaries were predicted before the first lockdown, practical amenities — such as those home offices, gyms and flex rooms — weren’t even a blip on the radar before COVID. Other ways the pandemic has influenced interior design include the use of calming colours, incorporating natural elements and the move away from open concept living areas. As always, the projects featured in this issue offer lots of inspiration for welldesigned living. May the soothing palette, wood elements and “secret” home office in Curve Appeal (page 22), the inviting outdoor oasis in Heritage Nouveau (page 34) or the highly functional kitchen in A Designer’s Home Makeover (page 42), serve as the launching point for your own home project.

sothebysrealty.ca Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Independently Owned and Operated.

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Athena McKenzie, Managing Editor


“When furniture becomes art. Moody, curvaceous and stunning may not be the typical adjectives to describe furniture, but when a piece like this comes along, the usual descriptors do not apply. The floral design of this beautiful credenza is most certainly a show stopper. Wow!” — ELAINE BALKWILL, LUXE DESIGNER

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SPRUCE IT UP

The Multi-Functional Home OPTIMIZING WHERE WE WORK, REST AND PLAY.

MAXIMUM FUNCTION

The kitchen has long been considered the heart of the home, and the pandemic has only strengthened that belief. This has resulted in a few notable design trends, including the growing popularity of larger kitchen island/peninsula hubs. Along with increased functionality and storage, there is the opportunity to add additional seating and a work surface — for cooking prep, homework or a laptop station.

DASHA ARMSTRONG

Kitchen shown: A project by Thomas and Birch Kitchen and Bath Boutique (designer Jason Rolstone) featuring Cabico cabinetry and a Calcutta Gold Quartz countertop.

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ULTIMATE SANCTUARY

Spending so much time at home makes a good argument for adding luxury amenities. The Effegibi Sky Sauna comes in three models, allowing it to fit into almost any space. With its wide glass panels that reach to the ceiling and construction from Canadian hemlock, it’s designed to nurture ultimate relaxation. Optional features include mood lighting and a sound system that delivers music from your own device. Available through Cantu Bathrooms & Hardware

EDIBLE LANDSCAPE

The surge in interest in growing food at home is another movement to come out of the pandemic. The modular self-watering Heirloom Garden from Vancouver-based LifeSpace Gardens works as well on condo decks as it does in backyards. Each planter contains a patented SIP.tech self-watering system that allows for the watering of veggies (or any other plants) from the bottom up. Built to order, the cedar planters come in a range of sizes and finishes. Visit lifespacegardens.com for details

THE HOME GYM

Miss going to the gym? The at-home exercise machine options are getting better every year, meaning they’re less likely to become a glorified clothes rack. The new Peloton Tread has a 32-inch touchscreen tablet for streaming from the Peloton app, which has access to 10,000-plus classes. Optional add-ons include a mat, weights and a heart monitor. Visit onepeloton.ca for further details

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On-Trend Colours with Enduring Appeal BENJAMIN MOORE’S 2021 COLOUR PALETTE IS DESIGNED TO REFRESH AND SOOTHE.

W

ith their Colour Trends 2021 palette and Colour of the Year — Aegean Teal — the colour experts at Benjamin Moore wanted to reflect a grounded sensibility with warm, sunbaked hues that play to the senses.

The Benjamin Moore Colour Trends 2021 palette. Clockwise from top: Aegean Teal, Gray Cashmere, Atrium White, Muslin, Foggy Morning, Kingsport Gray, Amazon Soil, Rosy Peach, Potters Clay, Chestertown Buff, Beacon Hill Damask and Silhouette

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“Amid uncertainty, people yearn for stability,” says Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore’s director of colour marketing and development. “The colours we surround ourselves with can have a powerful impact on our emotions and wellbeing. Aegean Teal and the corresponding Colour Trends 2021 palette express a welcoming, lived-in quality that celebrates the connections and real moments that take place within the home.”

Aegean Teal is described as an “intriguing blue-green that creates natural harmony and invites us to reflect and reset.” This colour, as well as the 11 other hues in the Colour Trends 2021 palette, was chosen for its modernity, as well as its time-tested appeal. The colours compliment each other and provide an easy starting point for homeowners looking to revitalize their space.


THE SOFT TOUCH PAIRED WITH WHITES AND CERAMIC TILE & NATURAL STONE PALE WOOD, SOFT PASTEL DECOR CAN BRING A CALMING SCANDINAVIAN STYLE TO YOUR SPACE.

CERAMIC TILE & NATURAL STONE

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SPRUCE | SPRING 2021

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DESIGN DETAILS

Creative Ways to Use Tile WITH ITS RANGE OF STYLES AND APPLICATIONS, TILE CAN BRING FUNCTION AND VISUAL INTEREST TO YOUR HOME.

G

iven its durability and ease of cleaning, tile is traditionally found in high-traffic areas — such as kitchens, bathrooms, foyers and laundry rooms — but it can also be used to striking effect in almost any room, either on the floor or on the walls. Whether your esthetic is rustic, traditional or contemporary, there are a plethora of styles and sizes available.

BENEFITS OF TILE One of the primary benefits of tile is that it does not absorb mold, germs, dust mites or bacteria. It also doesn’t require the use of strong chemicals for cleaning or surface maintenance, which means it has a low indoor environmental impact. Both of these factors make it an ideal choice for allergy sufferers. Tile is considered a sustainable choice. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are clay-based and kiln-fired, making them durable and longlasting. Neither variety emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as they are made with naturally occurring clay and minerals. Certain varieties of tile, such as ceramic, can also be cost effective. Of course, more complex designs can cost as much as quality hardwood flooring. One drawback of tile is that it can be challenging to install properly, which is why it is recommended you use a professional over the DIY approach. The techniques used to manufacture tile allow it to be printed or embossed. There are also tiles that reproduce the look of hardwood, marble and stone. Tiles can be made into a variety of shapes, from the standard squares and rectangles to geometric options and planks. With so many options for colour, texture and shape, tile can be a striking way to bring visual interest into any space, inside or out.

CONNECT INSIDE AND OUT

Porcelain tile is ideal for outside use, a modern alternative to stone or concrete. Being strong, scatch resistant and hardwearing, it can handle heavy foot traffic and your patio furniture. It also doesn’t absorb water, making it ideal in variable weather conditions. Depending on the area, it can often be installed directly over grass, gravel or sand. For an indoor-outdoor transitional space, tile can seamlessly connect inside and out. Top: Julian Tile Norr in Mirage; bottom: Centanni Carnaby Collection in Nordik Stone Grey

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FUNCTIONAL ART

Wallpaper might be having a moment, but patterned tile takes a room to the next level — and can also be used on the floor. Whether it’s for a statement wall, fireplace surround, backsplash or floor, using patterned tile is a lasting way to add style and creative flair to your space. As with wallpaper, choosing the right colour, pattern and scale of your tile is important — tile is celebrated for its ability to last a long time, after all. From top: Ann Sacks Pintada; Walker Zanger Tahiti; Walker Zanger Blush Peony

Casa Roma pebble mosaics

DESIGN DETAILS

Decorative tile inserts are another way to up the visual interest in a space, and are especially popular in the bathroom. They also make a striking detail around a fireplace. These inserts are an effective to way to delineate areas, from creating inset borders on flooring to providing a backdrop to a sink, shower or niche.

THE LOOK OF WOOD

One complaint about tile used to be that it was less cozy than wood floors. Now you can get ultra-durable tile that mimics the look of real hardwood, but doesn’t scratch as easily. Beyond the living room, this allows homeowners to have the look of wood in their kitchens or bathrooms without the risk of water damage.

THE STONE EFFECT

Julian Tile Greenwood in Bruno and Beige finishes

Eurotile Onyx series

Whether you use natural stone tile, or ceramic or porcelain with a stone effect, this natural look works well in a variety of spaces. Being man made, ceramic and porcelain tile are available in countless colours, making it easy to find a tile that coordinates with your interior décor.

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STATEMENT STAIRCASE

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A

To reflect their personal style and open up their fabulous views, these condo owners replaced a solid metal staircase with an open, airy design.

staircase is responsible for getting you from point A to point B, but it can also be responsible for defining a space. The original solid aluminum staircase in this Victoria West condo was a standout piece, but the material was cold, and cut off the space. It wasn’t creating the warm, cozy environment that owners Deana Brown and Doug Kelly envisioned. “From the beginning, it was a set of stairs that we learned to live with, but we didn’t love it,” says Brown. “Because of the way our condo is designed, you walk in and the first thing you see is under the stairs. The metal blocked our view, and with our view, why would you block any of it?” The couple live in The Edge building, in the top corner loft unit, with sweeping views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. When they moved in six years ago, the loft had been fully renovated by the previous owner. It came complete with sleek, epoxy-coated concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, a new kitchen with quartz countertops, and a massive, custom bent aluminum staircase. It was urban, and the stairs were unique, but its form trumped its function.

BY ERIN McINTOSH | PHOTOS BY JEFFREY BOSDET

EMBRACING THE OPEN CONCEPT They knew from day one that the stairs did not match their esthetic, nor their living habits. The couple loves to entertain. The kitchen boasts the perfect place to gather, with a big island, and a beautiful Wolf range. However, it is tucked underneath the staircase. With the metal frame and hard surfaces around the kitchen, this created an unwelcome problem. “Being big entertainers, before COVID, if we had ten people around our bar and kitchen, the sound just got amplified because it bounced off that metal, and the concrete and the glass,” says Brown. Over time, a local realtor and close friend of Brown, Kent McFadyen, connected Brown with a few local experts to tackle the staircase and its issues. Todd Martin, owner of Knot in A Box Design came up with the design.

Before

Condo owners Deana Brown and Doug Kelly decided to ditch the glass sides of the old staircase and replace them with simple grab rails. These are made of 2" brushed stainless steel tubing that matches other details around the home, such as the hardware in the upstairs bedroom. The floating tread design of the new staircase opens up the flow between the living area, dining room and kitchen. It allows the sun to shine directly into the kitchen, a beautiful feature the previous metal staircase blocked. SPRUCE | SPRING 2021

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FENG SHUI FOR YOUR HOME

“It was all about bringing warmth and light, and then function, into the space ...” “Deana definitely wanted a wood element that was more open concept,” says Martin. “As it is a very tight space and has a lot of modern elements like glass and concrete floors, we agreed a wood element could bring some warmth to the space.” He came up with an open-concept floating tread design, with double-sided glulam stringers. He says this helped “to open up the space and let more natural light through to the darker side of the space.”

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The design was then handed over to Pete Robilliard of Peter Robilliard Construction, who built and installed them, and Doug Douglas of Douglas Metal Works, who made and installed the railings. The original design reused the glass from the previous staircase, but once the wood was installed, everyone agreed that the space could use a different railing, and they settled on the metal. The loft was immediately transformed. It was welcoming, warm and comfortable. The stairs no longer blocked the view, and the space felt like one cohesive unit. Wood accents flowed from the dining room into the living room, and up into the bedroom. Brown added a beautiful complementary mid-century sideboard and a fireplace with finishes that match the stairs. These new additions also match Brown’s dining table, a piece Brown brought with her when she moved in, and which also inspired the finish for the staircase. “It was all about bringing warmth and light, and then function, into the space, because we really do live in one room,” says Brown. The stairs were installed before the pandemic, so Brown and Kelly were able to show it off to friends and enjoy wine and tapas under the stairs in their kitchen with ease. Entertaining was restored. Brown says the sound “significantly changed” because there was no longer anything for it to bounce off. Sadly, the couple has had to put entertaining on an indefinite pause. The loft is now a space designed for living and enjoying. It is defined by its warmth and comfort that was lacking prior to the renovation. The stairs no longer break up the space, and there is flow from one room to the next. Its form does not interfere with its function but enhances it.


The old metal staircase was removed in a day, taken out as one big piece and then cut in half in the hallway of the building. The installation of the new wood staircase took place on the same day, as the stairs were pre-built off-site and reassembled in the loft. This made for a seamless transition for the couple, who were able to enjoy their new stairs right away. The kitchen is no longer tucked away in the dark with bad acoustics, but rather it soaks up the sunlight and flows with the rest of the living space.

Before

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■ ARCHITECTURAL SHOWPIECE

CURVE APPEAL TO MAKE THE MOST OF ITS UNIQUE WATERFRONT SITE, THIS MODERN HOUSE FEATURES A STRIKING ROUNDED STRUCTURE. BY DAVID LENNAM |

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PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE

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F

ranc D’Ambrosio had been puzzling over the design of a new house for a couple of weeks, unable to arrive at a solution for a curious, almost triangle-shaped lot on a leafy cul-de-sac in the Uplands. The founder of Victoria’s innovative D’Ambrosio architecture + urbanism (DAU) knew his client wanted to take full advantage of the waterfront property. D’Ambrosio took his thoughts into the garden and, sitting at his picnic table, arrived at the elusive “aha” moment. As he set his coffee down, he did so in a triangular shape on the table. The circle of the mug fit perfectly into the three sides and D’Ambrosio had a house Euclid would live in. The homeowners* had already decided the lot appealed to them, unusual though it was. They were looking for a sheltered oceanfront location where they could be outside year round with the bonus of a “textured” view: framed ocean with a rocky cove, Mount Baker as a backdrop, sailboats bobbing in the bay and a wrap-around of greenery.

D’Ambrosio admits he had a little convincing to do to sell his circular house concept. His clients had looked at a half-circle house on Sidney Island, which they liked because it gave the entire structure an ocean perspective. But this was a step further. “The guarantee I gave them was that none of the rooms would be circular and that all they would feel when they were in a particular room was like having a big bay window on one side.” The circle is, of course, a perfect form, the geometric shape of heavenly bodies, wholeness, infinity. There are no corners to hide in or be shoved into, and curving walls immediately bring flow and energy to a room. For many ancient cultures, the circle was the preferred shape for tombs, temples and shelter. DAU’s philosophy, points out the firm’s senior interior designer Jacqueline Marinus, is to blur the line between interior design, landscape design and architecture, with spaces defined by how they’ll be experienced and utilized. The result, she says, is an intentional and cohesive esthetic.

*Names withheld for privacy

This page: If a house is round, can there even be a front and back? The impressive polished concrete pavers seem to float across a circular pond leading to a front entranceway that allows a view right through to sailboats beyond. The oceanside yard is utterly private. Opposite: Light spills in through 11-foot windows flanking a custom cedar door. More pours in through the skylight, running like a spine through the middle of the ceiling. Finishes — bright wood, white stone, polished concrete — play off one another and reflect that incoming light. The spherical light fixture is by Dutch designer Graypants.

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According to designer Jacqueline Marinus, the interior form is shaped by carving out the solid exterior volume, leaving us with spaces that relate to the round structure. To highlight this, interior finishes that meet up with the exterior wall are chosen in variants of white to maintain the impression that the interior is carved away. Polished concrete floors, which are heated radiantly, carry on from the interior to the oceanside patio. A wood-burning fireplace is suspended in a gorgeous wall of white honed marble, giving it a very natural look. Sound reverberation, common in round structures, is addressed with acoustic insulation hidden behind the wood slat ceiling. For architect Franc D’Ambrosio, “the space is actually tuned.”


There’s definitely a minimalist bent to the interior, with space and light in abundance and the suggestion of the circle in a gently curving kitchen counter and island. Orthogonal interior walls, some less than ceiling height, keep the energy of the rooms graceful and fluent, but establish a conforming sense that, despite being within a big circle, the perspective is never forced. It’s really not just the shape of the house that’s circular, it’s the design. The exterior informs the interior. And each element of the interior is complementary to the next. It flows from Rusnak Gallant’s landscaping, through a main entranceway that frames an ocean view as you approach the house, into the foyer with ceilings topping 11 feet, and where that view dominates because of floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open onto a patio and back outside again. The two-bedroom-plus-office, two-and-a-half-bath dwelling features 3,400 square feet over a main floor and basement. Flooring (featuring radiant heating) is polished concrete that spills out to form exterior patios and hardscape. The main challenge for builder Rannala Freeborn Construction was framing inside the circular shell to create intricately detailed walls and ceilings. “There are many different surface planes and shapes inside where alignments had to be absolutely perfect to get the desired effect,” says builder Troy Freeborn, of Rannala Freeborn Construction. The best example might be the magnificent cedar front door, practically floating in glass. Designed by D’Ambrosio and his assistant Bruce Greenway, and built by Calibre Doors, it relies on some long, premium cedar with the same boards for the door and the spandrel panel above. “The same-board theme is present throughout the project,” says Freeborn. “It’s especially interesting to see it when the cedar ceiling boards visually continue through the windows into the exterior soffits.”

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Curves in all the right places, like the kitchen, are comfortably mated with the surrounding orthogonal interior walls that suggest one is not in a perfectly round structure. The kitchen millwork follows the shape of the building, and, as Marinus explains, “We planned a series of standard cabinets that, when placed at a subtle angle to one another, graciously follow the curve. The marble countertops, however, were cut with the perfect arch.” The cluster of lights above the dining table are also by Graypants, from their Scraplights collection.

D’Ambrosio explained his two major design challenges. The first was to fit a house of a modest size into the lot and take advantage of the ocean views and the sunlight. The second was orientation — how to get those vistas without compromising natural light. “As is the case on a lot of shoreline houses, the view is to the north and the sun comes from the south, so your outdoor space is not where the sun wants you to be,” he says. “It became a challenge to bring the sun from the south to the north.” It may be the home’s most defining feature. D’Ambrosio designed a kind of a skylight spine intersecting the circle that not only opens and closes to cool the house by exhausting hot air, but captures sunlight from the south and refracts it over the patio on the water side. “When you light up glass from one end it illuminates the whole surface, and that’s how we transmitted that natural light through the house and reflected it down on the patio on the north side,” explains D’Ambrosio. “Overall we wanted a home connected to the ocean, a landscaped environment and an emotional connection to nature from the entire house,” says the homeowner. “Franc did complete the circle.”



The bedroom looks out toward the ocean through a wall that feels like a giant bay window. Much of the furniture in this room, including the bed, was designed by the architect and built into the house. The master bath, featuring an Acri-Tec Monaco freestanding tub and a floor-mount tub filler from the Circo collection by Alt, looks out onto a private garden area. Hanging above the tub is a Random Light by Moooi. The ceiling and exterior soffits are cedar, giving the impression that the underside of the solid is wood and runs all the way through. Marinus says dropped gypsum ceilings in key areas like the bedroom run the building services, but they are strategically pulled away from the outer edge of the building to ensure the cedar is clearly visible.

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RESOURCE LIST ARCHITECT: D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism INTERIOR DESIGNER: D’Ambrosio Architecture +

Urbanism

BUILDER/CONTRACTOR: Rannala Freeborn

Construction

ENGINEER: Blackwell MILLWORK: Douglas Grant Cabinetmakers COUNTERS: Stone Age Marble, Matrix Marble

and Stone

FLOORS: Vancouver Island Polished Concrete, Kyle’s Tiles APPLIANCES: Coast Appliances LIGHT FIXTURES: Graypants, Mooi WINDOWS: Atlas Meridian Glassworks (Panoramah),

Construction in the round offers maximum floor area with the least amount of perimeter wall, but offsetting the flattering curves with interior walls that are at right angles delivers a “normalcy” of place. Not everything is in the round, and some things are almost hidden, like the office. It’s one of designer Marinus’s favourite features. And it’s all about the wood slat sliding door. “When it’s closed,” she says, “you don’t know there’s a room behind it. It’s a secret.”

Starline

WINDOW COVERINGS: Ruffell and Brown FIREPLACE: Wilk Stove DOORS: Calibre Doors ELECTRICAL: Alliance Electric PAINTING: Inman Painting LANDSCAPING: Rusnak Gallant FURNITURE: Gabriel Ross, The House of Chester, Chester Fields, Design Within Reach AREA RUG: Salari Fine Carpets ART WORK IN DINING AREA: Jane Francis

Tell us your story.

THE WATKINS GROUP

ScotiaMcleod,® a division of Scotia Capital Inc. Scotia Capital Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. The Watkins Group is a personal trade name of Michael Watkins.

Suite 400 - 1803 Douglas Street 250.389.2160 | 1.800.663.1855 karen.king@scotiawealth.com www.watkinsgroup.ca

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DESIGNER PROFILE

MARI KUSHINO DESIGN

DESIGNER PROFILE

BESPOKE DESIGN Interior design studio committed to providing a tailored approach to each project

F TONY COLANGELO PHOTOGRAPHY

O

ur small team of exceptionally talented advisors tailor our services to the specific needs of our clients. The size and depth of each project varies, as does the style. From contemporary to traditional — or somewhere in between — each project is unique and reflects personal style and personality. We listen and provide design options along the way, while sharing our knowledge about the process and its possibilities. The goal of all our projects is to build long-term relationships. Since 2008, this has been the essence of Bespoke Design Ltd.

Full-Service Residential Interior Design or almost a decade, Mari O’Meara of Mari Kushino Design has been creating spaces with a thoughtful and tailored simplicity. Known for creating beautiful and functional residential interiors, her work is based on a deep respect of natural materials, always drawing inspiration from the unique style and taste of each client. Quality, service and attention to detail is paramount to the philosophy. While pushing the design to the next level, Mari is committed to making sure the end result is something you love.

Mari Kushino Design 3838A Cadboro Bay Road, Victoria | 250.721.9622 | marikushino.com

Designer Ben Brannen with Bosey

Bespoke Design Ltd. 1820 Oak Bay Avenue, Victoria | 250.298.1105 | bespokedesign.ca

DESIGNER PROFILE

MARI KUSHINO DESIGN Full-Service Residential Interior Design

TONY COLANGELO PHOTOGRAPHY

F

or almost a decade, Mari O’Meara of Mari Kushino Design has been creating spaces with a thoughtful and tailored simplicity. Known for creating beautiful and functional residential interiors, her work is based on a deep respect of natural materials, always drawing inspiration from the unique style and taste of each client. Quality, service and attention to detail is paramount to the philosophy. While pushing the design to the next level, Mari is committed to making sure the end result is something you love.

Mari Kushino Design 3838A Cadboro Bay Road, Victoria | 250.721.9622 | marikushino.com

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DASHA ARMSTRONG PHOTOGRAPHY

DESIGNER PROFILE

MEADE DESIGN Interiors + Graphics

M

eade Design Group Inc. is a multidisciplinary design firm founded by Principal Designer, Iván Meade in 2002. The Victoria-based design firm serves the local community as well as clients from mainland Canada, the United States, Australia, Mexico, Europe and beyond. The award-winning Meade Design Group team provides tailored interior design, web design and graphic design solutions. Meade Design Group takes pride in their superior customer service from concept to delivery. Meade Design Group specializes in creating aesthetics that elegantly reflect their clients’ needs and personalities. Interiors by Meade Design Group are marked by a quest for timeless elegance. Inspired by a more European approach, classic elements are infused with a modern

Iván Meade

Owner of Bear & Joey sought out the help of Meade Design Group to bring his vision of a Sydney-inspired café in Victoria to life.

edge for a sophisticated juxtaposition. Whether the project is residential or commercial in nature, the method is the same — creating an environment that reflects a lifestyle, as opposed to a clinical, sterile showroom effect. The tactile experience, curated furnishings from a bygone era and thoughtful compositions all contribute to an unexpectedly nostalgic yet innovative ambiance. A successful interior always respects the architecture of the space, and layers textures, scale and materials to achieve fullness of depth and maintain interest — but most of all, it reflects the aesthetics and functional requirements of the client. Offering a full-range of services, from concept development and material selections to drafting and project management, all the way through to the final touches such as window treatments

and furnishings. The Meade Design Group team proficiently manages the client’s expectations, especially when it comes to deadlines and budget. Pulling from years of experience, this helps the clients know what they are in for and reduces stress in the process. For commercial applications, with graphic design as one of Meade Design Group’s main services, the expert team draws from a company’s brand and reinforces and reflects it back into the brick and mortar manifestation. In the end, no two spaces are the same, and there is no formula for creating the perfect interior. The definition of a perfect interior will vary from person to person. Ultimately, the most important factor that Meade Design Group helps to achieve is the representation of the client and their lifestyle or brand in their space.

1316 – B Government Street, Victoria | 250.881.1990 | meadedesigngroup.com


■ HERITAGE RENO

Heritage Nouveau A FAIRFIELD RENOVATION BRINGS A MODERN ESTHETIC AND FUNCTION TO A HISTORIC STRUCTURE. BY DANIELLE POPE | PHOTOS BY DASHA ARMSTRONG *

W

hen Alan MacMinn first laid eyes on the historic building that would become his Fairfield home, he could see why it had been on the market for a while. The derelict 1911 Edwardian-style house had suffered years of neglect, displaying a sagging roofline and extensive structural damage. Yet MacMinn could see more: ocean views from the front of the house, an expansive yard, ornate heritage features and the potential to start anew. He was visiting from Toronto when he spotted the for-sale sign, but the area held strong ties for MacMinn, who was born and raised here. As a builder accustomed to bringing older homes back to life, he accepted the challenge. “What attracted me to the project were the elements that hadn’t been rubbed out,” says MacMinn, principal of MacMinn Contracting. “The house was dilapidated and falling apart, but the original front door was still there. For that to last over 100 years on a house was really something.” With the luxury of time before the move west, MacMinn spent the next 18 months drafting the design for the three-level, 3,000-square-foot home, planning much of the work himself. As it sat unprotected by heritage designations, some may have considered a full tear down, or transformed it into a multi-unit development. MacMinn was committed to preserving every element he could, from the original ornate fireplace and mantel to the hallway millwork. *Excluding before photos

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Before

Builder and homeowner Alan MacMinn knew this renovation project would be a labour of love. His aim was to preserve as many historic elements of the house as he could while incorporating a modern, minimalist design. Overcoming the building’s sagging roofline and deterioration was one of the first tasks; another was obtaining custom-milled, double-drop Douglas fir siding that would match the original look of the 1911 structure.

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Before

The kitchen represents the biggest transformation of the home, as MacMinn turned a horseshoe cooking nook and dining room into an expansive minimalist space that opens onto the garden. Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray was used for the walls, with Benjamin Moore White Dove used for the trim. The cabinets are done in a high-gloss finish with white uppers and blue-green lowers, and the island is clad in a birch veneer, for contrast.

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This would be no traditional restoration. With his own sense of convention and modernity, MacMinn incorporated a unique mix of Scandinavian minimalism that would earn him eight 2020 CARE Awards, including four Golds for Best Renovation/ Restoration, Best Residential Interior under 2,500 sq. ft., Best Contemporary Bathroom and Best Heritage Project. From heritage wainscotting and newel post details to the hidden TV cabinetry box on a motorized lift, historical and modern touches co-exist throughout the home. MacMinn brought in radiator heating, but livened the look with innovative Stelrad structures. The fusion appears through features like the kitchen’s oversized curtain wall windows, paired with the double-drop Douglas fir siding, custom milled in Chemainus to match the historic original. While he kept most of the rooms intact and resisted an open-concept design, MacMinn transformed the pre-existing kitchen “nook” into a striking, modernist space complete with flush-mounted LED strip lighting (skipping traditional pendants), gas range, quartz countertops, high-gloss cabinetry and artistic features like the articulating Kohler Karbon faucet (mirroring the Canada Space Agency’s Canadarm). “I took out the back wall because, when you enter the kitchen I want your eyes to continue straight outside into the garden,” says MacMinn. “The black stairs leading from the kitchen to the garden have an industrial vibe, but then you see this beautiful traditional siding. That partnership between old and new is everywhere.”

“I TOOK OUT THE BACK WALL BECAUSE, WHEN YOU ENTER THE KITCHEN, I WANT YOUR EYES TO CONTINUE STRAIGHT OUTSIDE INTO THE GARDEN.”

The commercial-grade curtain wall windows, installed by Allied Glass, was one of the most complex accomplishments of this renovation and required a team of eight to install. This could be considered the signature move that shifted the 1911 structure from traditional to modern, and now allows guests to dine at the Bensen Radii European white oak table in full light, with beautiful views of the expansive garden.

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“THE YARD WAS REALLY A BLANK SLATE.” Another nod MacMinn received was a Silver CARE award for Best Outdoor Space, which he worked on with James Darnell, owner of Land Story Design. MacMinn noticed how spacious outdoor lots often stood unused in Victoria while, in Toronto, even small patios would be designed with elaborate features. He pulled on that inspiration, bringing in a porcelain patio, a contemporary water feature and an elegant fire element to the space. “The yard was really a blank slate,” says Darnell. “I loved the way Alan was preserving history, but with this Euro-modern mix that blended perfectly. So, I thought, let’s do that with the landscape as well. The fire and water features are the dividing line between modern and heritage — where one world ends and the other begins.” With MacMinn’s wife an avid gardner, the choice to keep the space evolving was an intentional one. The design made space for a pre-existing heritage birch and brought in plants like the Japanese wax-leaf privet, native serviceberry trees and soft Miscanthus grass for interest.

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Before James Darnell, owner of Land Story Design, helped MacMinn evolve the backyard from an abandoned lot to an intentional green space — one MacMinn and his wife could enjoy year round. With a mix of heritage and native plant foliage, Darnell was able to create the perfect backdrop for outdoor hosting as well as a point of visual interest from the kitchen’s curtain wall windows.


With generous space for gathering outdoors, the garden landscape offers a balance of earth, air, fire and water. The Crossfire fire feature from Warming Trends complements the modern raised pond. Large-format porcelain tiles from Aristokrat in BlackStone give the patio a clean, minimalist look, while the industrialstyle staircase and black and grey Ratana Vilano lounge furniture creates a modern vibe.

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The restructured fireplace in the sitting room features the original tile surround in iridescent green, with new black granite inlay in front. The firebox itself, from Grate Fires in Georgia, was rebuilt with a replica coal basket. While it functions as a gas fireplace, the glass was removed for a more realistic experience. This maintains the room’s historic feel amid the modern motifs.

Before

BUSINESS PROFILE

PACIFIC ROLLSHUTTERS AND AWNINGS Celebrating 30 years in business serving Vancouver Island

P 2745 Bridge Street, Victoria 250.361.4714 | PacificAwnings.ca Showroom open M-F, 9am- 4:30pm

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acific Rollshutters and Awnings offers awnings, rollshutters, retractable screens and roof systems, and is the exclusive dealer of StruXure Louvered Pergola Systems (pictured) on the Island. StruXure was the winner of The International Builder’s Show Best Outdoor Product of 2020. The fully aluminum system offers protection from sun, rain and wind; with the louvers closed, the roof is waterproof. StruXure works great for patios, decks, or outdoor kitchens, and it is the ideal solution for restaurants or hotels wanting year-round patio seating. With its ability to open and close, provide protection from sun, rain and heavy wind, withstand snow, and with the option to add side screens or heaters, no other patio covering system compares to StruXure!


Kevin Zonneveld, owner of Zonneveld Contracting, says the home today is nearly unrecognizable from the structure they started with. “When we began renovating, the sag from the rafters was so severe it was hard to even measure,” says Zonneveld, who supported MacMinn with framing and structural work. “This project took some work, but we did it. “I remember one moment when I was on my cell calling for lumber and realized the wood delivered to this house originally was probably delivered on horse and buggy. It’s incredible to see where it’s come to today.”

LO C A L LY H A N D C R A F T E D D E S I G N E R K I TC H E N S

B U I LT F O R L I F E

DREAM KITCHENS REALLY DO COME TRUE RESOURCE LIST DESIGN/BUILD: MacMinn Contracting PERMIT DRAWINGS: AJB Home Design FRAMER: Zonneveld Contracting ADDITIONAL CARPENTRY: Green Island Builders

ELECTRICIAN: Aspect Electrical Services LANDSCAPE LIGHTING: Mclaren Lighting DOORS AND HARDWARE: Lumberworld WINDOWS: Starline Windows CURTAIN WALL WINDOW: Allied Glass ROOFING: Proline Roofing TILE: Loki Tiling KITCHEN INSTALLERS: Ikan KITCHEN APPLIANCES: Coast Appliances

JOSHUA LAWRENCE

PLUMBING AND MECHANICAL: True Home

Plumbing and Gas

Custom Jason Good kitchens and bathrooms are built for inspired living. From initial sketch to final installation, we transform design dreams into functional masterpieces.

COUNTERTOPS: Exotic Stone PLUMBING FIXTURES: Splashes Kitchen & Bath HARDWOOD FLOORING: Hourigan’s Flooring FLOORING INSTALLERS: 660 Hardwood Flooring STAINED GLASS DESIGN: SGO Victoria LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Land Story Design HARDSCAPE: Set in Stone ENGINEERS: Farhill

250.384.4663 | Victoria, BC | jasongoodcabinets.com JOB # JGOF-15756 CLIENT: JASON GOOD CUSTOM CABINETS PUBLICATION: YAM MAGAZINE INSERTION DATE: MAY/JUNE 2014 ISSUE SPRUCE | SPRING 2021 SIZE: 7.5" X 4.7" (HALF PAGE) PREPARED BY: ECLIPSE CREATIVE INC. @ 250-382-1103

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■ TOWNHOUSE REFRESH

A DESIGNER’S HOME MAKEOVER TO TRANSFORM THIS 1980S TOWNHOUSE INTO AN INVITING AND CONTEMPORARY HOME, DESIGNER BEN BRANNEN MADE SOME MAJOR COSMETIC CHANGES. BY KIM PEMBERTON | PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE *

I

t wasn’t exactly love at first sight when Ben Brannen and his partner Richard Dingeldein first walked into the 1980s townhome that would eventually become their home. In fact, the couple gave it a “quick pass” during the open house after seeing most of its walls were covered with wallpaper (the ugly kind with borders) and an array of textured ceilings. But with so little on the housing market, and appreciating its location — a woodsy setting in the Broadmead neighbourhood — they returned for a second visit. “We thought this neighbourhood was a nice little pocket,” says Brannen, the principal designer and owner of Bespoke Design. And as for the two-level, nearly 2,000-square-foot townhouse: “It had good bones; it just needed a hug.” Before making any final house-hunting decisions, Brannen and Dingeldein, who works for WestJet, left for a holiday in Spain in August 2019, handing over the keys to their 750-square-foot downtown condo so their realtor could show it while they were gone. “The condo sold, which meant we were homeless in Spain,” says Brannen. “We were in a bit of a panic since there wasn’t much on the market — and then we remembered this place.” They ended up purchasing the townhouse — while in Barcelona — and took possession in October, 2019. The townhome’s exterior is partial brick and wood, with lots of large windows and a small private patio in the rear. The outdoor space is ideal for the couple’s Yorkshire terrier, Bosey, and so far remains unchanged. Inside, changes in the living room and upstairs bedrooms were mainly cosmetic, requiring stripping layers and layers of wallpaper, which the couple did themselves.

One of the main renovations to the townhouse was in the kitchen, designed by homeowner Ben Brannen. He chose classic Shaker cabinets and added interest by going with dark bottom cabinets, light upper cabinets and a white, quartz countertop with veining. A beverage station, partially seen on the right, helps to extend the kitchen, which was previously squished into one corner of the room (before photo, right).

*Excluding before photos

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Before



They also improved the home’s mid-century touches, painting the vaulted ceiling in the sunken living room white, to let in light, and drywalling to hide a transition strip between the two storeys. As for the stone fireplace, Brannen says they have yet to agree on what changes will happen, since “Richard kind of likes it and I hate it.” Luckily for them, the previous owner replaced the downstairs flooring with walnut wood floors, a choice Brannen says he would have made himself since it works so well with their antiques. The previous owner also had new wool carpets installed on the staircase, hallway and two of the three bedrooms (the master has wood flooring). While carpeting is not a decision Brannen would

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have made, it’s one they’re willing to keep for now since the carpet is in great condition. The couple’s main focus was renovating the kitchen, which was in dire need of updating. They began by removing a non-load-bearing wall between the kitchen and dining room, to open up the space, then reconfiguring the kitchen layout. For some inexplicable reason, the original kitchen was squished into one corner of a very large room. The kitchen is now completely transformed, with a large kitchen island and plenty of cabinetry, featuring black bottoms and white upper cabinets from Thomas and Birch Kitchen and Bath Boutique. “We went with Shaker cabinets since they are


By removing the non-load bearing wall between the kitchen and dining room, the homeowners were able to create a well-functioning, open-concept space with a second sitting area. The furniture is a mix of traditional and contemporary pieces with a large pendant over the kitchen island serving as a statement light fixture and focal point. Inset photo, below left: Homeowner and designer Ben Brannen and the couple’s dog, Bosey.

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a classic and a neutral,” says Brannen. “The magic is the dark lower cabinets which keeps it interesting from an all plain white kitchen.” Those darker cabinets are also seen in a built-in beverage station installed opposite the kitchen work area and adjacent to a lounging area. This helps reduce traffic in the main work space and provides extra conveniences, like a mini-fridge and drawers for their mugs and wine glasses. “I’m quite conservative when it comes to the kitchen, because it has to endure for a very long time.” He jokingly adds, “This design was easy to do myself since I know the clients very well.”

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250-888-0245 | www.sheripinteriordesign.com The couple’s antique, circular rosewood table takes centre stage in the dining room. It is surrounded by custom chairs, upholstered with grey, velvet and floral designs, all outdoor fabrics by Kravet. Brannen says he prefers to use outdoor fabrics and removable slipcovers whenever he can, especially on well-used pieces of furniture. The eight-arm chandelier acts as another visual focal point for the room. The kitchen tiles (far left) are traditional white subway tiles with a bevelled edge, from Decora Ceramic Tile & Natural Stone. A must have for the couple was a beverage station (left), adjacent to the kitchen, that includes a small bar fridge and stretches across the full length of the window looking out to the home’s back garden.

Landscaping Your Lifestyle

acaciavictoria.com

250.595.0527

RESOURCE LIST INTERIOR DESIGNER:

Ben Brannen, Bespoke Design MILLWORK: Thomas and Birch Kitchen and Bath Boutique COUNTERS: Abstract Stone FLOORS: Island Floor Centre APPLIANCES: Trail Appliances, Coast Appliances LIGHT FIXTURES: Visual Comfort through

Bespoke Design

ELECTRICAL: Kendra’s Electrical Company, Urban Electric PAINTING: Nicholas Alexander BASEBOARD AND TRIM: Doug McKnight

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ASK THE EXPERT BY CARLA SORRELL

Building the Future THE POTENTIAL OF MASS TIMBER Ed Geric, of Mike Geric Construction, believes mass timber is the natural progression for construction on the Island. Spruce talks to him about the material’s strengths and benefits, and why his company is using it for their new condo project.

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Tresah includes two multifamily buildings — Tresah West, a 12-storey fully mass timber mid-rise, and Tresah East, a six-storey wood-framed building.

JEFFREY BOSDET/SPRUCE MAGAZINE

E

d Geric is steering his family business in the course set by his late father, the company’s founder, Mike Geric. He has just broken ground on the first of two buildings that make up the Tresah development — named after the phonetic pronunciation of his mother Theresa’s name in her native Slovenian language. Tresah is Vancouver Island’s first 12-storey residential condo mid-rise, providing 179 homes, made from mass timber. This material has been recognized internationally for its strength and design flexibility and is used to build high-density housing at speed. In Europe, where the technology has existed for much longer, there are 40- to 50-storey mass timber buildings. For Geric, using mass timber is the logical next step for the company. After moving from Winnipeg, his father started as a single-home builder and was one of the first builders on Vancouver Island to build to six storeys when code changed about six or seven years ago. “The progression from a six-storey building in regular wood to a twelve-storey in technically wood — mass timber — was a natural progression for us,” says Geric. “We’re wood guys; we really love the wood side of it.” Mass timber was brought to Geric’s attention a few years ago by Kinsol Timber, who were using it for small structures. He visited Portland, Oregon, which Geric thinks is “probably the leading city on the West Coast in terms of constructing and mass timber. I saw a number of projects, and just fell in love with it. I fell in love with the esthetics of it.”

What is mass timber? The actual mass timber is basically solid or composite wood material. And when I say composite, that means existing wood products, such as dimensional lumber board panels, that are bound together in an engineered process.

How strong is the material? Two of the most popular mass timber products are cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam (glued laminated) timbers. Glulams are mainly used for posts and beams, CLT is mainly used for the floor systems. When it’s put together every layer of wood is in a different direction, so that they span multi-directionally, whereas most lumber usually spans in one direction.

What are its environmental benefits? It sucks in carbon from the air. It’s a wood product, and that’s what trees do in their natural environment — absorb and sequester carbon. Trees actually don’t produce carbon, they inherently suck carbon in, so to have a product that does that is very green and very sustainable. For every condo we build out of mass timber, it has taken a car off the road for life. [One cubic meter of wood will store one tonne of co2.]

Where does the wood come from? One-hundred per cent of the product that we’re using in the Tresah building is B.C. lumber. We’re very supportive of the B.C. economy, using this product. A lot of the mass timber uses the old pine beetle forest that couldn’t be used in dimensional lumber.

How do the building codes address mass timber? The 2020 National Building Code of Canada now has a specific section for mass timber, allowing mass timber buildings up to 12 storeys. That’s just happened in the last year, and building codes are catching up. All provincial building codes, when they go for review, will now incorporate the National Building Code.

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What are its build benefits? It has a lower cost of construction because mass timber can be erected very quickly. The components that go into a building are built off site. It’s done in very climate-controlled environments, so it’s delivered all in proportion. It’s like a Lego block — it’s delivered and then it’s assembled. It’s faster, quieter and less disruptive to the neighbourhood. Typically, I can do a 10,000-square-foot floor in a week, whereas in concrete that may take a month. To deliver timely, that just saves money. The weight of mass timber [a third of the weight of concrete and steel] enables us to build with lighter impact on the foundations and on the ground. I need less cement, I need less steel. I can use a third to two-thirds less piles and concrete drilling down.

Does it require more preplanning? Yes. You’re initially doing everything during the preplanning: the coordination with all the other consultants (envelope, electrical, structural). The benefit is that things like electrical outlets, chases, conduits or anything that needs to be drilled in can all be done prior to delivery.

Above: Within the Tresah units, the designers have maximized the exposed wood elements for esthetic appeal and to take advantage of its health and wellness benefits. Right: Tresah West is a 12-storey fully mass timber mid-rise with 179 homes.

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“Studies have found that the presence of wood elements reconnects you with nature, reduces stress and supports creative thinking.”

How does it respond to earthquakes and fire? Seismically, mass timber is much better. It weighs less than steel and concrete. In an earthquake, less weight above ground is better and more resilient to any damage. The material has a little bit more flexibility. Concrete buildings are not great in earthquakes: they’ll crack, they’ll crumble and you need to tear down that whole building. With mass timber you can reuse all those components of that building. Mass timber has a fantastic fire rating, which seems weird when you think it’s wood. Because it’s a mass piece of wood, they only char from the outside. It forms an impermeable layer; you can’t penetrate in the interior of that mass timber. Once you reach a level of toughness of three-quarters to an inch, it will not burn anymore.

What are the barriers to use?

Mass timber can store carbon long-term.

Initially some of the barriers were its acceptance by buyers. It’s new, so we’ve had to teach people about mass timber; we could tell them the benefits and all that before they’ll even think about putting money down to buy a place. I was a little bit surprised how quickly we gained the acceptance.

What are the experiential qualities of living in a mass timber building? Studies have found that the presence of wood elements reconnects you with nature, reduces stress and supports creative thinking. One of the benefits of exposed wood is really the wellness and well-being of someone living in a wood-exposed condo. It’s a stress reliever.

How hard was it to expose the raw material? One of our challenges has been to try to get as much of the wood exposed. You are balancing fire rating, soundproofing, encapsulation, and where you run piping. [In Tresah] we’ve been able to get at least 60 to 70 per cent exposed elements — I wouldn’t have done it if it was 100 per cent encapsulated.

Is Tresah an important landmark for Vancouver Island? It will be, absolutely. There are other mass timber buildings being built, a couple on Vancouver Island, but they’re mostly institutional, two-storey builds. We are the first ones doing the residential 12-storey mass timber building. We’re at the forefront, and once we do this and we pull it off, there’s going to be a lot of other people lined up ready to go.

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THE WONDER OF WATER A WATER FEATURE BRINGS A SOOTHING FOCAL POINT TO THIS STRIKING NATURALIZED LANDSCAPE CREATED ON A RECLAIMED AREA FRONTING A GOLF COURSE. BY LINDA BARNARD | PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE

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ichard Woo had one thing on his landscape wish list. “I always wanted a water sphere,” he says. Woo had been inspired by a large granite orb he’d seen turning in a shallow water container outside a resort on Grand Cayman. He and wife, Carla Anderson moved to their 4,300-square-foot home on Compass Pointe Place at Bear Mountain three years ago. The home sits on a half acre overlooking the golf course, with enviable mountain views in the distance. They initially hired Mary Haggerty of Mary Haggerty Designs to transform the area at the back of the house to create privacy, but she had an even bigger vision for the area. A rocky chunk of the land had been fenced off, seen as an unusable spot and overgrown with scrub plants. Haggerty immediately suggested the fence should go and the space could be made usable and beautiful. Luckily, water also played a big part in Haggerty’s plans and Woo would get his water feature dream. Haggarty chose a 40-inch stacked slate sphere fountain from Ontario-based manufacturer Aquascape and designed a large, stonelined reservoir to house it. To heighten the tranquil atmosphere, she moved a small Buddha from another spot in the garden close to the base of the sphere.

WEST COAST ESTHETIC Unlike the smooth-shaped water feature Woo had admired, this sphere is rustic and tactile, echoing the rocky outcroppings on Vancouver Island. The fountain flow can be regulated to get the most pleasing sound. It’s perfect, Woo says: “It’s very calming, very peaceful, relaxing. It calms you right down.” Haggerty often includes water in her landscape designs. In fact, the sphere is one of three water features on the property. There’s a hot tub oriented at an angle for the perfect golf course view. It sits in a pergola that has lights for evening relaxation and shades to create privacy. A free-form, kidney-shaped pond with a central water spray is the dominant feature of the formerly unused area. With two slate-coloured wooden Muskoka chairs nearby, it’s a pleasant place to sit and admire the increased number of birds that are drawn to the pond.

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Large photo, left: A cedar slat pergola creates privacy for the hot tub. This overlooks the free-form pond below, which sits at the heart of the formerly fenced off and overgrown area of the property. Landscape designer Mary Haggerty worked around existing trees, including a stand of arbutus (top). Bald Eagle Landscaping built the pergola and all the stonework, including the Island-quarried Buckskin slate flagstone in the seating area (centre). The rugged-edged water sphere (bottom) has an adjustable water flow.

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“[HAGGERTY] HAD THE VISION TO OPEN THINGS UP AND MAKE IT THIS BEAUTIFUL OASIS.”

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Strong, natural colours and water features are key elements of the Compass Pointe Place home’s landscape design. Haggerty chose plants that “deer are less likely to dine on,” including lithodora, callistemon, creeping phlox and a small Norway spruce. The finished project is an oasis, says client Richard Woo. It makes the most of the golf-course view and incorporates several water features, including the hot tub, pond and bubbling water sphere.


“She had the vision to open things up and make it this beautiful oasis,” says Woo. Haggarty, who has a varied resume that includes a diploma in landscape design, believes everyone should have a water feature in or around their home. She has another diploma in architectural drafting and a third in textile design, along with more than 30 years as an architectural technician. She’s a kitchen designer, artist and weaver. Haggerty brings all of these elements to her work, saying she sees herself as both a landscape designer and a landscape artist. Haggerty lived and worked in the Caribbean for 12 years. When she was building her home there, she even toyed with the idea of adding a small stream that would flow under a glass cover into the house and through the other side. Water brings energy to a space, she says, along with a sense of calm carried both by the restful view and the sound of moving water. It also creates energy with motion and activity with wildlife, and can act as a play area for kids and pets.

PLANTS AS ACCESSORIES Haggerty saw the rocky, unused area as something that could be beautiful. The fence came down. The scrub plants were cleared, leaving the native species. A thin, unusable strip of land down the side is now a secret staircase that adds visual interest. “I don’t blast rock,” says Haggerty. “So, I worked with it. I worked with what Mother Nature has given me. And you don’t mess with her.” Haggerty drew the pond outline freehand with spray chalk, so the design followed the curve of the rocks and land.

Haggarty also knows her plants. She worked at a nursery in Ontario for a spell, where she was in charge of water features. Planting comes last, she says. A few years ago, she visited the gardens at Palace of Versailles in late fall. The bare gardens let her see the magnificent layout and design of the outdoor space. “The structure is the important part,” she says. “You can stick any number of plants in but if you don’t have a good structure, there’s just going to be a mess. I lay out all the spaces first.” When clients ask about plants, Haggerty tells them to think of trees, shrubs and flowers as the earrings. The dress comes first: “That structure, to me, that is key.” Haggerty leans towards native and deer-resistant greenery. She selects plants that suit a site. As much as a client may crave a delicate Japanese maple, if it’s windy, it won’t thrive. “She’s very much an environmentalist,” says Anderson. “She has great vision.” As a golfer, Haggerty also appreciates the property’s course view, which inspired the colours for the landscape design palette. “You’ve got the green behind you. You can probably use stronger colours,” she says. The water sphere is a natural dark brown-green shade. For the hot tub pergola, she chose a dark wood frame and rich cedar slats. It all works together for its pleasing effect. As Woo says, “What she did was so calming and peaceful.”

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REAL ESTATE BY SHANNON MONEO

The COVID Effect There’s no doubt the pandemic has affected the local real estate market. Here’s what the experts think will happen next.

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round the world, the past year has been startling — and the same could be said for home sales in Greater Victoria. A slow start was followed by a flurry of home purchasing in the second half of 2020. “The biggest theme for Greater Victoria in 2020 was the high demand, across all segments, particularly in single detached homes,” says Pershing Sun, a senior analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “In the third quarter, sales were unseasonably high. In the fourth quarter, sales slowed, but were still higher than last year.” Sun attributes the orgy of home-buying to pent-up demand due to the spring lockdown. Agent David Langlois, with Macdonald Realty in Victoria, points to the almost 8,500 homes sold in 2020, outpacing 2019’s 7,255 — about 15 per cent more —

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and putting 2020 in the top 10 for all-time sales. “COVID has fuelled more desire for a single-family home or duplex, something with a front door and a backyard,” says Langlois, who is also president of the Victoria Real Estate Board for 2021. That has translated into a faltering condo market. As Langlois notes: “People don’t want to be living in a 500-square-foot box surrounded by other 500-squarefoot boxes.” The past year also exposed another shortage, with an all-time, 25-year low of inventory. “Twenty years ago, we were behind by 1,000 houses,” Langlois says. “Nothing was done to speed things up. Now we’re behind by 20,000.” He says COVID-19 made a bad situation worse. Initially, municipalities didn’t issue building approvals, but that improved as 2020 progressed. As well,

8,500 homes

were sold in 2020, outpacing the previous year’s 7, 255 — putting 2020 in the top 10 for all-time sales.


Buying a Home Online They may be dropping $5 million for a home, but buyers in the Greater Victoria market are willing to purchase a property without having set foot in it. “I have seen more people buying sight unseen since the pandemic,” says David Langlois, a realtor with Macdonald Realty. Lately, he’s had his share of nerve-wracking moments when the once-absent buyer finally sets a real foot in the home. But thanks to technology, customers have rarely regretted their decision to buy without a test drive. Even though Langlois admits a virtual tour can’t replace actually walking through a home, COVID has changed the way realtors do business. “There’s very little windowshopping now. Buyers look online first, narrow it down and look at two instead of 10,” he says. “We do see more concentrated viewings.” Chace Whitson, also with Macdonald Realty, has been optimizing technology for several years, but the pandemic has zoomed it to a higher level. “It’s been such a game changer,” he says. “It’s made things very easy for buyers.” His virtual toolkit includes FaceTime, YouTube, Skype, Zoom and drone footage inserted into 3D offerings like Matterport tours. Whitson also has lifestyle-type house listings, akin to short movies, that feature a house melded with the work/ play ethic. Even Victorians are opting to forgo actual home visits in favour of the silver screen, Whitson says. One caveat. With the disappearance of open houses or jam-packed viewing itineraries, getting a home inspection is highly recommended.

D E S I G N

“COVID has fuelled more desire for a singlefamily home or duplex, something with a front door and a backyard.”

construction crews weren’t at their full complement. “As inventory drops, people who can sell don’t put their home on the market until they can find the home they want,” Langlois says. B.C.’s foreign buyers tax has freed some homes — predominantly high-end, waterfront properties. Homeowners from Alberta, Ontario, California, New York and even Vietnam have sold residences ranging from $3 million to $10 million, says Chace Whitson of Macdonald Realty in Sidney. Ironically, a significant number of people from those places are purchasing the homes. Whitson has also been selling to buyers from the city of Victoria who are decamping to the Saanich Peninsula. Langlois has seen similar buyers — including Canadians who have been long-time residents of places like California — deciding to “come home.” Langlois also figures the work-from-home segment substantially grew in 2020, citing Greater Victoria’s many amenities and natural attractions. “If I’m going to work from home, where do I want to live?” he asks. But Sun throws some shade on that theory. “People say the virus made people want to leave the city,” she says. “Not so. It’s more a question of affordability. The urban exodus is not entirely the case in Victoria.” Instead, low and stable mortgage rates are driving home purchasing in Greater Victoria, a market that has not seen substantial unemployment. Areas seeing strong sales of single, detached homes are Saanich, Langford and Colwood, Sun says. Langlois notes that it’s a nine-month wait to buy a home in West Hills or Royal Bay. And about 50 per cent of homes get multiple offers, roughly 40 per cent of homes sell over the list price and bidding wars continue on anything that’s priced right, in a desirable area. “I’d never seen bidding wars in Sooke or the Highlands,” Langlois says. “It’s regular now.” As for 2021, Sun is cautious. The frail economy and 2020’s negative population growth in B.C. could pose a potential risk, with condo sales bearing the brunt. “The current heat is mostly supported by low mortgage rates and those taking advantage of cheap money,” she says. “It’s easy to get wrapped into a buying mentality.” Whitson envisions an active 2021 with prices marching upward, while Langlois cites the lack of inventory as an ongoing struggle. “There’s no end in sight to the continuing demand,” he says. “And we’ll not see a normal until the vaccine is widespread.”

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FINISHING TOUCH

JOSHUA LAWRENCE

A Sophisticated Modern Kitchen

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or this kitchen in a custom build on a waterfront property in East Sooke, the homeowners wanted minimalist clean lines — and a great space for entertaining. Most notable is the dark cabinetry, painted with matte Benjamin Moore Deep Caviar, paired with walnut. “A black kitchen can really ground a space,” says Justa Kendall, co-owner and president of Urbana Kitchens, the company that designed and installed the kitchen. “The clients have large windows facing the water and they wanted something that wasn’t

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going to reflect too much light. The depth of the cabinet colour helps balance the space and is softer on the eye.” Urbana’s designer Stephanie Excell incorporated several elements to make the space optimally functional, including the large island — which seats six and has a raised bar with many outlets, designed for laptop use — and a separate bar with a small sink, bar fridge and space for a coffee machine. Finishing touches that add to its sophisticated esthetic include the fullyintegrated refrigerator, handleless cabinets,

granite counter, porcelain floor tiles and a painted glass backsplash that reflects the view. “My favourite element would have to be the added walnut touches,” Kendall says. “It adds a natural and warm feeling to the space.” Kendall says it takes a team of many to provide kitchen installations such as this one. “We like to refer to it as ‘an Urbana Experience’ to give credit to all the behindthe-scenes employees.”


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