story by Janice Henshaw | photos by Vince Klassen
Is it possible to transform a BC “Box House” built in the 1970s into a classy, clean-lined family home that is perfect in every way? To make it contemporary, comfortable, full of light and crowned by a private rooftop deck that has an amazing ocean view? Yes, it is!
How do you do it? Well, you zipper off the roof, strip the house down to its bones, and throw out the old floor plan. Move the bedrooms to the back of the house, and the living room and kitchen to the front view side. Using imagination and a desire for light, bump out the living room wall to raise the ceiling from eight to 12 feet, add upper windows, and then bask in all the lovely sunshine that warms your house and energizes your spirit.
Oh yes, you have to beef up the studs too, and add engineered roof trusses so they will support a relaxing rooftop deck that takes in 360-degree views of the Victoria airport, Robert’s Bay, Haro Strait, Sidney Island, James Island, the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands. Add a built-in sound system, a gas fireplace, comfy outdoor furniture, a barbecue, and it’s a relaxing haven in which to enjoy precious family time or entertain guests.
Make no mistake, this renovation was a complex undertaking – and a quality build – skillfully designed and built by Tidman Construction, which undertook all aspects of the project including design and landscaping. Those of us who have been involved with even a simple DIY renovation can only imagine the amount of planning that is necessary for a project of this size. Tidman Construction’s Andrew Tidman offers very wise advice, that “if a client is going to spend a year building or renovating a house, they should spend half of that time in the planning stage.”
Choosing products and finishes while underway is not fun! The number of decisions really can be mind-boggling, because there are now so many products, store inventories and websites to check out. If building or renovating a house is in your future, then time spent researching what you like in terms of style and finishes, flooring, and cabinets, etc. is well spent. It is much easier to focus on just a few decisions when construction is underway. And, with the pressure of scheduling trades, it is more cost efficient if everyone keeps on schedule. Trade availability, says Andrew, is not what it used to be!
But let’s go back to this lovely renovated 2,900-square-foot house that so ably demonstrates a contemporary style of easy-living, clean modern lines and finishes. The main entry originally opened up to a set of stairs, but its exterior wall was moved out and the roof built higher to create a foyer that is filled with light from the new windows (Starline windows) and glass panelled front door (Home Lumber). The light is further enhanced by the large marble tiles on one wall. The opposite wall features white, high-gloss cabinets with a special nook built above to house a model of the famed Canadian sailboat, “The Bluenose.”
Walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Wisp, which has a hint of grey. The light colours of the home are enhanced by texture such as the quartz ledgestone accent wall at the top of the stairs, which matches the new gas fireplace façade. The open floor plan on the main upper level ensures that the kitchen is the centre for social activity and allows the cook to be part of everything that is going on.
In the kitchen area, the five- by seven-foot quartz-topped island is perfect for entertaining and serving because its clean work surface is not marred by a sink or cooktop. Bar stools nestle under the counter and are almost invisible due to their short, transparent backs.
Quartz countertops were chosen throughout the home because of their colour, finish, durability, and low maintenance.
DuChâteau solid oak wide plank hardwood floors (Island Floor Centre) provide interesting detail and elegant base warmth to the main rooms and stairs. In the three upper-level bedrooms and sitting room area, beige carpet adds quiet and comfort. Heated porcelain tile floors in the three bathrooms are an undeniable luxury.
The main bathroom, instead of being one large area, has been divided into three rooms so that the bath area with its 6’ soaking tub can be closed off while leaving access to the central powder room area and the separate toilet area on the other side. In addition, both bedrooms have their own vanities for their teenage occupants. The master bedroom has an ensuite that includes a six-foot frameless glass walk-in shower with walls clad in polished travertine stone tiles (a form of limestone).
Ceiling pot lights provide the main lighting in the bathroom, but two pendant lights add sparkle, and movement-activated under-cabinet lighting is another attractive and energy-saving touch. All lights are LED and the owner notes that, because of the change from conventional incandescent or halogen bulbs, there has been a substantial reduction in the home’s hydro costs. The warmest spectrum bulbs were chosen to create a cozy, warm feel instead of the icy blue or grey look that results from cooler spectrum bulbs.
The house is very efficient energy-wise, because, even on cold winter days, the large windows absorb heat from the sun. Installing a heat pump was a wise choice: it helps keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. On the lower level, there is one additional bedroom or storeroom, bathroom and office, and a legal self-contained one bedroom suite. A side entry through the carport provides a roomy mudroom for shoes and outdoor gear, and it also provides a convenient space for laundry machines.
Easy-care grey Hardieplank siding, stained cedar, standing seam metal panels, large windows and black trim all combine to give the home a stylish, modern look. Black powder-coated aluminum spiral stairs lead up to the panoramic rooftop deck. The deck’s main view panels are clear and have no top framing, so the view of sky and sea is, in a word, marvellous.
And what a location for a home: easy walkability to Sidney and a nearby beach faces Mount Baker and amazing sunrises. Tidman construction Ltd. turned this homeowner’s dream of clean, contemporary lines, comfort, and low maintenance into reality. A transformed B.C. Box house indeed!