Design inspiration can sometimes come from unlikely sources. In the case of this Oak Bay home, built by Steve Smith of SC Smith Building, with millwork by Eric Gummer of Thomas Philips Woodworking, the entire project revolved around the protection of four established trees and their extensive root systems. Considerable design and build ingenuity ensured this tree-friendly home blended the owners’ vision of an urban farmhouse with the historic charm of the surrounding neighbourhood.
“This was a collaborative project between the owner, the trades and the community,” says Smith, who worked closely with an arborist to position the home and carriage house on the lot in a way that would protect tree roots. Portions of the home rest on a suspended slab that allow roots to grow without any damage to the structure, while skylights and wall-height windows offer views of the natural growth outside, embracing the beauty of the trees into the home’s interior design.
Wood is the home’s most prominent design material, used unexpectedly with the bold contrast between all white walls, black-stained oak door, window frames and staircase details. Gummer brought this contrast into the kitchen cabinets and built-in hutch, using the classic Shaker style to achieve an unexpected blend of modern and cottage-style the homeowners had in mind.
Engineered wood floors mirror the weathered tones of the reclaimed structural ceiling timbers and fireplace mantel that Smith hunted down at a salvage company in Vancouver. To enhance the natural beauty of the old beams, he cleaned them with a wire brush and applied a clear coat, then installed strip lighting along the top surface to up-light the vaulted ceiling. Gummer carried this theme into the powder room, selecting just the right piece of old timber for the vanity for a look that is both modern and time-worn.
Additional details, like the motion-lighting under the master bath vanity, heated floors and the design-forward dressing area contribute modern elements to the home’s style while European tilt-and-turn windows, the eyebrow-arch front doorway and natural building materials lend old-world charm that suits the neighbourhood. It’s old meets new, with stately contributions from nature to grace the overall effect.
- Builder: SC Smith Building
- Plumbing: NB Plumbing
- Electrical: Amped Electrical
- Ventilation: BR Ventilation
- Cabinetry: Thomas Phillips Woodworking
- Front door: Aurora Woodwork
- Flooring: Pacific Coast Flooring
- Tile: Creative Tile
- Painting: SC Smith Building
- Countertops: Floform
- Roofing: Perrier Roofing
- Soffits/gutters: Network Home Improvements