– Words by Angela Kwan, photographed by Don Denton
In the depths of the Gulf of Cordoba, Perched on a cliff with a stunning view of the San Juan Islands, this is a home that has been given a whole new life. With its bright exterior, large tiled patio, and open breeze connecting the garage and main building, the entire home is instantly welcome, with its airy beach house vibe. But it was a journey to get there.
“We touched every surface, removed every window and tore every aspect of it,” says Chris Lacey, owner of Bowcey Construction, explaining that the entire home had been razed and rebuilt from the ground up, and the renovation took about a year.
The three-bedroom home was built in 1969 and required a massive amount of work, but the site was compelling enough that it warranted an undertaking. With cedar, fir, and lone arbutus trees framing the view behind the house, the property is the epitome of a breathtaking West Coast vista.
“You would never expect to get the views you get here,” says Chris, who grew up in the area. “The sunrise and sunset are amazing, and the eagles that fly from here are incredible.”
Moving inside the house, Chris leads the way through the pantry that also serves as a mudroom. We move around the corner and out into the vast open space that houses the kitchen, dining area and sunken living room, all bathed in an incredible amount of bright natural light. It’s a typical gray Victorian day, but between a bright palette, ocean-view glass wall, vaulted ceilings and skylights, it’s cheerful enough to dispel any early semblance of spring.
The overall look of the design is light, airy and beachy, a perfect encounter for the homeowner and designer’s visions.
“The homeowner really wanted to create a home that was comfortable and a bit of a blank slate, and not a lot of pattern or contrast or busyness,” says Adrienne Hempstock, interior designer at Jenny Martin Design.
“Given the original age of the house – the end of the mid-century modern era – it was important to work within the existing feel of the house, namely its beams, vaulted ceilings and cedar planks. Everything we added should feel cohesive with the original bone, but also updated, fresh and new. This is also a beach house…With these aspects in mind, a lot of inspiration came from Australian design, which is by nature light, bright and beachy, yet still warm and sophisticated.”
The kitchen embodies that “warm and sophisticated” aesthetic well. Multiple changes in subtle texture throughout create a homey atmosphere while keeping it from feeling too clunky or modern. Slatted cabinet doors call to mind a hint of a more traditional era, while light quartz countertops provide a clean and uncluttered look. Behind the impressive set of six burners, bold marble tiles in a herringbone pattern extend from the counter to the ceiling, creating a striking wall featuring display shelves and a unique – but highly effective – use of desk lamps as spotlights.
The island gently extends across the boundary of the kitchen, relaxing the eye and body in the dining area. A little later, two small steps lead into the living room, where one of the biggest shifts in the renovation was made.
“The view was incredibly important to the homeowner, so whenever possible, we directed the sides toward the view, or added or widened the windows,” says Adrienne.
The living room’s sliding doors were widened and a Cero wall installed, allowing two of the three panels to slide in completely and extending the living space to the extended deck.
In the original building, a massive rock fireplace dominated the southeast exterior wall, creating a striking focal point for the room, but completely obscuring the view. Built from explosive rock on Vancouver Island, Chris says it was a wonderful piece of craftsmanship, but the wood-burning fireplace was too old and ineffective to salvage. When it was removed, the view suddenly opened up into an incredible panorama.
A new gas fireplace, surrounded by small white vertical tiles and a songbird marble fireplace, was installed instead on the opposite wall, preserving the view and adding a cozy, unobtrusive, floor feel to the space.
Adrienne adds that lighting throughout the house and the living room in particular was a bit tricky.
“We needed to incorporate lighting into vaulted areas that did not have recessed downlights [potlights]As there was not enough space between the cedar ceilings.”
Instead of dropping the ceiling to build up the space, indirect lighting was installed to shine at the now painted cedar wood ceilings, as well as lighting along the two stairs leading into the sunken living room, creating a soft, warm glow in the entire main living area of the house.
Across from the main floor, the master bedroom received a major facelift with crisp whites, larger windows, and automatic blinds. But it is the inner group that amounts to the biggest change. Formerly an office space, the interior suite was expanded with a special addition to house a regular bathtub, and is framed by huge windows to take advantage of the view.
Heated porcelain tiles work the floor of the space while the vaulted ceiling and high windows keep the feel airy.
Downstairs, two spare bedrooms are also located along the south side, and their wide windows benefit from a view of the ocean. A large bathroom with double sinks provides plenty of room for guests, and the desk is equipped with a Murphy bed, too.
Adds Adrienne: “A major facelift was done for the media room downstairs, with a linear fireplace, custom mills that have a big screen TV for watching games, and a wet bar.”
The black Carmane marble fireplace here is the darker chips of the songbird marble upstairs, creating a sense of continuity through the design. The cabinets and mills, made in black downstairs, echo the same slatted texture as the kitchen cabinets.
At the end of the overhaul, the house remains true to its mid-century foundations even when it was upgraded to a new modern finish, and now has a long life.
Construction and interior finishing:
Bowcey Construction Ltd.
Architect/Design: Step One Home Design
Interior Design: Jenny Martin Design
Indoor drywall: the ultimate drywall
Painting: princess painting
Cabinets and Mills: Millworks Fragments, Dave Sheridan
Flooring: Hurrigan’s Flooring
Tiling: Horijan Flooring
Interior doors: Slegg Lumber
Front door: Karmana Wood Design
Windows: Marvin Windows and Doros
Lighting: Designed by Jenny Martin; Custom Chandelier by Bocci Lighting
Plumbing fixtures: Brezzo, Kohler, Blanco, Blue Bath Works
Bathroom Hardware: Renovation
Fireplace and bar: Songbird Marble, and Vancouver Island Black Carmanah Marble
Fireplaces: Valor Fireplaces, Installed by Ark at Home
Exterior siding: Mudslingers Stucco and Bowcey Construction Ltd.
Home Automation and Electricity: Gorge Electric
The story is provided by Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication
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