Posted On May 1, 2014 By In Home & Garden, Top Stories With 1358 Views

Reflecting a Lifestyle

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Story by Barry Mathias. Photography by

The changes that some people make to their house are often based on the accepted norms of modern fashion, the influences of architects and interior design experts, or the pressures of inherited family heirlooms. This house has an individuality that stems from the philosophy and passions of the owners, and is immediately evident as I walk through their front door.

Set in a quiet, treed cul-de-sac, the house occupies a medium-sized lot with a back garden that leads down to the waters of a tranquil bay. There is a parking area for four cars out front that melds into a well-kept, easily maintained front garden with two large mature trees, well-established bushes and a small lawn. It is an L-shaped house from the front, with a wing that reaches out from the left of the property, and has a curved concrete path leading to the main door, situated on the right side of the wing. At the back of the house this pattern is reversed. While the wing is built as a traditional two-storey house, the back part, to the right, has a roof that slopes down to the height of the first story and has two large, attractive dormer windows.

The partial glass front door, with a full glass window to the right, opens into an inviting space with a corridor straight ahead, a staircase to its right, and another corridor to the right of that. There is an impression of light and an attention to clean lines. Immediately to my left is a small room with a bright window and rows of expensive shoes on organized shelves. On the opposite wall coats and outdoor gear are carefully arranged. The short corridor leads to a well-equipped laundry room with another window looking out on the drive, and across the corridor is a modern three-piece washroom.

Betty leads the way down the longer corridor that leads to the rest of the house. Matching canvases decorate the left wall. “This is one of the alterations we made,” says my hostess, pointing to three high windows that allow daylight in what would have been a dark corridor. These radiate light from the television room on the left; this is a comfortable space, with fitted carpets, easy chairs and a large television. A wide window looks out on their outside office situated to the left of their back garden, with the bay beyond. “We only have the one television,” she says. “We restrict the technology as a way of preserving the personal interactions with our children.”

A glass door at the end of this corridor provides more light and a fine view of the water. On the right is a sliding glass door into a large space, comprising kitchen, dining area and lounge. The immaculate kitchen is to the right; it has a quartz-topped island in the centre with two heavy-bottomed leather stools, and a modern four-burner gas top inset into the right corner. A wall of windows looks out onto the front garden. “We replaced everything in the kitchen, apart from the windows,” Betty says reflectively. Below the glass runs a long, uncluttered quartz kitchen top with a sink in the middle, a dishwasher at one end, and a stove at the other. Both appliances are flush with a variety of matching white drawers and small cupboards in between.

At both sides of this area are large, spacious floor-to-ceiling cupboards with well-designed storage facilities, also in white. The effect is of a cool, modern environment, well lit, and with an emphasis on clean lines and no unnecessary objects; everything is bright and modern. A rich, light oak wood floor continues throughout the extended room, including the dining area and the lounge. “We removed the fitted carpets, and the tiles in the kitchen,” she says with a smile, “and replaced them with wood floors, both here and along the corridors.” The effect is of space and light.

After the modernity of the kitchen, the dining area with its simple wood table and its four smart molded chairs is a surprise. I am suddenly aware of the paintings on the wall, one of a vivid seascape; there is a guitar on its stand; a glass door to the side, leading to a snug office; and a thoughtful placing of lights throughout. The unstated emphasis is on freedom of movement. Ahead of me is a glass door with its water vista, and to the right is a small but tasteful social space: two comfortable matching armchairs, an inviting couch and a central table. There are a variety of modern light fittings: overhead spots, side table lamps and reading lights, but no clutter. Nothing extraneous. An electric log fire augments a traditional fireplace with a colourful abstract painting above. A large green plant is on one side, and recessed shelves on the other. The choice of white ceilings and gentle pastels for the walls increases the impact of the tasteful paintings, pottery and artistic decorations. The impression is that people who meet here will be paying attention both to each other and the artistry around them.

“The major changes we made were upstairs, where the slope of the roof created some challenges,” Betty explains. We climb the carpeted stairs, lit by a skylight and high windows. To the left is a large bedroom with its own three-piece en suite, and a view of the back garden. This is the room of a young boy, whose passion for model planes is evident. Outside we double back on the landing with a linen cupboard on the left, and enter another good-sized bedroom, also with its own three-piece en suite, and a range of art. The landing and all three bedrooms have matching, wall-to-wall carpeting in a cool sandy grey.

The main bedroom is spacious and remarkably simple: a large comfortable bed, matching round tables and side lights, a single modern wicker chair and a small wooden sideboard. One wall has glass sliding doors opening onto a wide deck with glass sides, allowing a panoramic view of the bay. Flowing white curtains and a sparing use of well-placed paintings and woodcarvings add to the sense of cool tranquility. This bedroom covers most of the upper part of the wing that extends into the back garden, and is built out from the roof space.

The en suite is very large and makes the best use of the sloping roof and the two wide dormer windows with their view of the front garden. A large, stylish mirror adds reflected light above the two circular sinks set in a marble top unit, above a range of dark-wood draws and cupboards. In one dormer space is an elegant tub clad in the same dark wood, and situated opposite a roomy, walk-in shower with a multi-coloured tiled floor. Large beige floor tiles, extending throughout the rest of the room, add comfortable warmth.

Once again, there has been a determination to allow in natural light via windows and skylights, and what could have been an awkward dark area has become alive and vibrant. Skillful design has made the best use of alcoves in this U-shaped room, which ends with a single step down into an airy, private office with its own window.

In the back garden, with its neat lawn leading down to the water, is an interesting shaped structure with a round window. “That serves as an office, a storage space and has a small sleeping area, for when we have friends to stay,” Betty says. “It was an important consideration when we bought the house.”

The owners are active people, with an obvious appreciation of art and how to display it. They have achieved a living space that’s organized, artistic and full of light that reflects their approach to life.



Your West Coast Culture. A magazine about the people and places that make the Saanich Peninsula the little piece of paradise we call home.

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