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story by Janice Henshaw | photography by Marion Every and Nunn Other Photography –
A gorgeous home filled with light, intriguing art, a courtyard for shade, no grass to mow and a fantastic ocean view. Was it the luck of the draw to buy this place or a manifestation of the owners’ desires?
Marion Evamy and Bobb Hamilton own the Red Art Gallery, formerly located on Oak Bay Avenue. Now, their beautiful home on Surfside Place in Sidney doubles as their new gallery space. Friends from Oak Bay asked them “Have you lost your minds, moving to Sidney?” But after seeing the newly-renovated waterfront home, they now appreciate “the gem we have uncovered,” said Marion. And as far as Sidney goes, Marion and Bobb love the town and appreciate the warm welcome shown by their neighbours and community.
Original hardwood floors, richly coloured rugs from Nepal, sculptures and artwork are all a feast for the eyes. Marion’s paintings and their personal collection of over 35 other artists are displayed throughout the home. 65 paintings hang on the walls of the main floor alone. Marion notes that number doesn’t even include the sculptures and 3-D pieces!
“Hygge” is a Danish term and is often associated with one’s physical surroundings – to create a harmonious atmosphere, a feeling of warmth, a mood of contentment (from The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well by Louisa Thomsen Brits). Bobb describes the “hygge” in this home as palpable – from a gathering place for family and friends to the natural materials, rock and cedar, used in the structure of the house, to the generous space that shows off the extensive art collection. Instead of a “great room,” there are numerous sitting areas comfortably arranged with eclectic furniture throughout the home, outside on the decks, and in the tree-shaded courtyard.
When you are looking for a new home, it’s funny how, every so often, not getting the house you first wanted ends up being a gift. Marion and Bobb started house hunting in 2016 after their interior renovation plans were turned down by the planning department in Oak Bay. They decided to change their parameters and looked at property for sale on the water in Cordova Bay, the Lochside area, Sidney, North Saanich and Deep Cove. At that time, Bobb said it was a heated real estate market: “We found ourselves in competing offer situations,” and they did not meet with success.
While on holiday in Mexico, Marion and Bobb thought more about the type of home they wanted. As a fun exercise, Marion suggested they independently draw up a floor plan showing what they would like to see in their “dream” home. Their two sketches turned out to be very similar. Three days before they were due to come home, they saw the Surfside home listed as an estate sale. There were no photos of the interior, no furniture, and they found it hard to gauge what was really there.
They flew home and viewed the house as soon as they landed. As the daughter of an architect, and a former realtor herself, Marion instantly recognized that the house had good bones. “There are a lot of architectural components that make a striking difference to the house. It has a generous entrance, wide hallways and stairwells, an amazing quality of light from the skylights, and the public and private areas of the house are well separated. The gorgeous ocean view is taken advantage of from every angle.”
Local architect John Bell (whose projects included Sidney’s iconic fishing pier, the Arts Centre, and the Sidney Lawn Bowling Club House) had designed the 3,000-square-foot 1.5-storey home. It sits on a pie-shaped lot and has an expansive 112 feet of oceanfront. Bobb said that, as soon as he stood on the threshold and saw the ocean through the windows, he knew it was the house for them. They made an offer that day. Patience was required though, because there was an open house scheduled for the weekend. But, serendipitously, Saturday brought lots of snow, Sunday, the Super Bowl, and by Monday, the house was theirs.
“Sooner or later, Karma works for you – and the ideal home crosses your path,” said Bobb. “The floor plans we had drawn up while in Mexico are eerily similar to our new home … we manifested our desires!”
After the heady excitement of buying their home, Marion and Bobb had only a 45-day window to have the renovations completed before they moved in. No structural changes were made as they wanted to keep the integrity of the 1970s West Coast design, but they wanted to freshen it all up. Outside work included fencing, painting and landscaping.
The major work took place inside – hardwood floors were refinished, new wool carpets laid down, and new windows installed. Electrical fixtures, plugs and switches, and the three bathrooms were updated. In the lower level, a bathtub was replaced by a steam shower. The house is heated by a new gas forced-air furnace and a stunning wood burning fireplace.
Their signature Edgy Red wall (Behr) which was featured in their art gallery in Oak Bay is a highlight in the family room. Other walls in the house are painted in four different whites: Bone White, Evening White, Cloud White or White Down (Benjamin Moore).
Marion and Bobb laughed as they said it was a pretty busy time for them during the renovations, but they had great trades to do the work – Island Marble, Greenlight Electric, Pro Way Plumbing Services, Masters Painting – and their talented carpenters, Ron and Brian. When it came time to move in though, they packed and moved their treasures, all their paintings and sculptures, by themselves. “Once we put up a few works of art, the house immediately transformed from a project to a home.”
The galley kitchen is next on the renovation block, as Marion and Bobb wanted to live in the house for a year so that they could get comfortable and think about how they wanted their kitchen to function. Friends suggested they open up the relatively small space and create a great room, but Marion finds the compact galley kitchen to be super-efficient, and, as a benefit, she doesn’t have to worry about the kitchen being “on show.” And it already has an incredible asset: a lovely view of the ocean.
Bobb has retired from a 40-year career in real estate and now works as director of their art gallery. Marion is a multiple award-winning fine art painter who creates acrylic and mixed media paintings with figurative and abstract themes. She produces about 100 pieces a year. “I express the joy of creating as accurately as I see it – with confidence and no fear of what may appear! I use my initials (M.E.!) as my signature. The exclamation mark is my philosophy that life should be lived as an exclamation, not an explanation.”
Marion is opening her studio/gallery for the ArtSea Saanich Peninsula Studio Tour, a self-guided tour of artist’s studios in Sidney, and North and Central Saanich. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet Marion and Bobb, see their beachfront home, and enjoy all her paintings! Their online gallery can be found at www.redartgallery.ca.