story by Janice Henshaw & photos by Janis Jean Photography –
Piers Island is a 250-acre private Gulf Island situated between Colburne Passage and Satellite Channel. If you are travelling by ferry from Swartz Bay north to Tsawwassen, Piers Island is on your right as you leave the ferry dock. There is one perimeter road called McKenzie Crescent. Residents walk, bike, ride horses, or drive electric golf carts – there are no cars, and no stores.
The Island is divided into 131 properties of which 128 are oceanfront; three larger lots are found on the inner side of the ring road. A 154-acre nature preserve covers the rest of the Island. A firehall run by volunteers houses equipment and community space. According to the Piers Island Association, lots were first sold to any purchaser that had the ability to row across from Vancouver Island. From 1932 to1935 Piers Island land was expropriated by the government which built a penitentiary camp to house over 600 inmates – The Sons of Freedom faction of the Doukhobor sect. They had been convicted of having “displayed themselves in a nude condition.”
In 2005 while on holidays exploring the west coast of B.C., Mona and her husband Chris, who are from California, bought their Piers Island home after a chance look at a real estate listing. It is a 2,000-square-foot one-level home built in 1980. The nicely landscaped lot is just under an acre and has fruit trees and a well-manicured English garden that Mona says with a laugh has become more naturalized. The house has a high bank view of Salt Spring Island, Arbutus Island and up the Saanich Peninsula to the Malahat. Sunsets are magnificent from this west-facing home.
Mona is a veterinary oncologist who founded the Veterinary Cancer Group in California in 1992 and currently serves as the Chief of Staff. She also consults for Dr. Erinne Branter who is a founding member of WAVES hospital, an emergency and specialty animal hospital in Langford. Mona says she has really enjoyed her career especially because it has given her an opportunity to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.
Updates to their property include a 400-square-foot guest cottage in 2006 and all new windows and doors in the main house in 2018. In his first career Chris had been a professional chef and the cottage kitchen that had been built three decades before just didn’t function well for what he wanted to create. Mona and Chris decided to make some major changes. They met with Andi and Larry Hook, owners of Sidney’s Hook and Hook Designs, and began design consultations. Sadly, Chris passed away from cancer in March of this year at 63 years of age, prior to seeing his new kitchen come to fruition.
The home renovation began in August and was finished in October. No walls were moved but the kitchen and two bathrooms were completely gutted. In the peninsula or u-shaped kitchen Larry built all new cabinetry and reduced the number of upper cabinets, building floating shelves instead. The soft-close kitchen cabinets are painted a gorgeous teal. The back of the peninsula, floating shelves (with LED strip lighting) and white uppers are clear-coated white oak. The “Airy” concrete quartz countertop is described by Caesarstone as a “calm grey base enriched by white and dark grey.” A unique feature is the counter-to-ceiling turquoise blue backsplash that creates a remarkable wave pattern from the side.
New high-end appliances include a Wolf induction cooktop which generates a magnetic field that induces heat in specially designed pots. Built into the cabinetry below is a BlueStar® Electric Wall Oven that has French doors and a bake stone for cooking brick oven style pizza. To avoid blocking the great room’s gorgeous ocean view, Hook and Hook installed a very cool Zephyr flush mount ceiling hood vent. A remote-control adjusts the different levels of lights and suction strengths. The fridge is made by Fisher Paykel and the dishwasher by Asko.
In the bathrooms, quartzite countertops were chosen, and the cabinets of white oak are painted white on the gable ends. Larry designed and built the classic wood-framed mirrors. The laundry and main bathroom were switched to accommodate a large shower as before the reno it was a small powder room. The stackable washer and dryer are separated with a new frosted glass pocket door. Next is the sink and toilet area that includes a laundry folding area and book-matched wood cabinets. Last is the walk-in shower area that has white textured tiles that carry out the wave theme. Large square grey floor tiles look like linen. Matte black door handles and fixtures, and smart-looking pendant lights make an impact.
The master bathroom has a glass-fronted six-foot-long shower with a built-in floating bench and perimeter drain. Attractive hexagonal diagonal tiles in colours complementing the heated pebble floor form a band around the shower and soap niche. “The floor adds to the bathroom’s organic feel,” says Mona. “It’s like having a foot massage.” The fixtures are brushed nickel. A bathroom window and existing skylight brings in lots of natural light.
Andi detailed several other features of the renovation which included new pot lights in the kitchen, a funky chandelier over the dining table, and new Hunter Douglas motorized blinds. The main ceiling beam in the living room was replaced as were all the interior doors and everything was freshly painted. Magnificent First Nations’ art, large picture windows and sliding glass doors trimmed in warm fir, and a colourful rug on the refinished maple floors all add up to a spectacular room.
A completely new deck was built to enjoy the expansive ocean view. The deck boards were replaced with IPE wood, (pronounced e-pay) which is a Brazilian hardwood that has brown and amber tones-reputed to be the finest deck material you can buy. New glass railings are topped by IPE. The final addition is the new hot tub sunk into the deck.
Mona says she is thrilled with the outcome of the renovation and the design work and skilled artisanship provided by Andi and Larry. She loves Canada and Canadians! Her son learned to get dirty on Piers Island, to bike, row a boat, fish, sit in the forest, whittle a stick, and sleep under the stars. The stars are magnificent, she says, especially while viewing them from her lovely hot tub.