Seaside Homes – It’s Our 14th Home, and No, We’re Not Done Yet!

by Janice Henshaw | photos by Janis Jean Photography –

“This is the 14th house we have built, and we have lived in it for over five years, the longest we have ever stayed in one house since we were married,” says Liz. She and her husband Bill have one more house to build – their retirement home! Liz is retired from her position as an administrative supervisor for the Central Saanich Police Service. She is well known in the equestrian dressage field as a competitor, teacher and horse trainer. Bill also worked for the Police Service, first in Edmonton and then for the Victoria Police Department. He received an Award of Valour for his dedication to duty while under fire, and as well, an Exemplary Service Medal.

Their current home sits on a secluded 0.75-acre lot in North Saanich. At the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, the 4,350-square-foot house surrounded by trees and forest is an imposing sight. A spacious lawn and manicured gardens create a park-like setting. The house exterior is sided in Nantucket Gray Hardie Board, with stained cedar shakes on the peaks and white trim.

Inside there are four bedrooms plus an office and four bathrooms on two levels. A super cute 700-square-foot suite tops the three-bay, 960-square-foot garage.

After 40 years of designing and building their own homes, Bill and Liz know exactly what works well and what doesn’t. Bill learned how to be a builder and contractor onsite in his “spare” time. Currently, he is acting as a contractor on three more houses he is building, so it’s a bit of a stretch to call either Bill or Liz retired! Bill says building a new home is a challenge now because it’s so difficult to find a decent building lot. Then there is the cost! He says the availability and price of materials are “absolutely nuts.” Liz is the creative designer in their partnership and looks after all the finishing details. She, like Bill, learned through firsthand experience and has tremendous knowledge about interior design.

The ceilings in their gorgeous home are lofty, 10 feet high on the main and nine feet high on the upper level. Door heights on the first floor add to the airy feeling – they are eight feet tall. The open concept living-dining area has a vaulted ceiling that soars gracefully to the second level. White one- by six-inch tongue-and-groove pine boards add interest to the ceiling and are kept bright by a custom, oversized skylight. The walls and trim are all painted in Cloud White (Benjamin Moore), a warm white that provides an ideal neutral background. “I never paint in crazy colours,” says Liz. “Everything stays neutral. You can always dress up your paint with accessories.”

The kitchen island and countertops are a quiet, soft white quartz with grey veins. Beams and posts add to the sleek look of the kitchen, as do the shaker cabinets, some that are glass-faced, and stylish hardware that includes chrome half-moon pulls and shiny knobs. All appliances are stainless steel from KitchenAid. A six-burner gas stove, built-in wall oven, warming oven and microwave oven handle all the cooking duties. Shiny white subway tiles form the backsplash. The unfinished pine dining room table from Restoration Hardware extends to seat 12, and there are bar stools pulled up to the island for cozy chats. Access to a butler’s kitchen is off to one side. An attractive rain-shower glass door opens to the roomy pantry that invites the light in from a circular window. Pendant lights, black with copper, add a medieval punch.

In the living area, there is a grand two-level, stacked rock gas fireplace. It has built-ins on both sides and TV above. The furniture is an inviting mix of leather and soft, “sink-in-place” white armchairs adorned with soft pillows. The expansive wall of windows brings nature in so close that you almost feel as though you are outside. Throughout the house, the windows are an interesting mix of rectangular and circular shapes.

An outside door’s storage and entry area includes a built-in seating bench with cabinet doors. Hats hang on posts above an impressive collection of dressage medals won by Liz and her horses. On the wall is a verse that says: “Horses make life better … Here’s to all the girls who would rather have ribbons on the walls than in their hair.” Sophie, a beautiful German shepherd, follows us around, padding quietly on the Beachwood-stained, oak plank floor. “Alexa” assists on our tour, turning the lights and TV on. A sound system is wired throughout the house.

The main bathroom is spa-like, with white-trimmed windows, a white stand-alone soaker tub, a walk-in glass shower and two sinks on separate counters. An excellent design feature in the bathrooms is that the loo is partially walled off and has a side window for light. There is a large closet for linens – so much terrific storage space in this house. Two guest bedrooms share an ensuite bathroom accessible from both sides – a “Jack and Jill” bathroom.

Three bedrooms have walk-in closets, and the fourth bedroom functions as an office, also with generous storage. The rooms are all a nice size, full of light, and that feeling of soft, cozy comfort that makes you want to toss all those lovely pillows aside and try out the bed! Only one bedroom has different paint; it’s a light warm gray from Benjamin Moore called Gray Owl. In the principal bedroom, nature again comes close with huge windows that stretch to the high sloped ceiling. It has a gas fireplace, classic white surround and TV mounted above. The walk-in closet is impressive – it’s big enough to make most of us jealous!

“I am lucky,” says Liz. “I enjoy always living in a new home and being able to update our furniture, appliances, design and paint. Styles are always changing.” But it also includes a ton of work, decision making, moving, garage sales, packing, setting up, not to mention building it all too – 40 years of it! Bill and Liz are most definitely long-term industrious workers. And lovely down-to-earth people too.

On a personal note, I hope you have enjoyed another year of exploring what’s behind “front doors” with Seaside Magazine and me, and I look forward to unveiling more interesting abodes in the new year. May 2022 be a wonderful year for you – full of kindness, hope, and good deeds!

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