From the sidewalk that leads up to the local elementary school in the family-friendly neighbourhood of Oaklands, Andrea Soos and Nick Kay’s home doesn’t look that different from their neighbours. Renovated to intentionally blend, the 1947 bungalow, with a fresh facade, still connects with the neighbourhood on this tree-lined street. But step inside for a surprise as this three-story, natural-light infused home, unfolds like a carpet before your eyes. From the front entrance, the sight lines draw you in and create an open, expansive feel, guiding your eye to the back windows and lush backyard. It is no surprise that this design-savvy couple transformed this typical midcentury bungalow with small, dark rooms into an airy and efficient, live/work space, for their family of four. Infused with natural-light, gallery white walls displaying their eclectic art collection, and midcentury modern accents, Kay and Soos have created a family’s urban oasis.
Fifty-five years after it was built, in 2002, Kay and Soos became the proud second owners of this modestly proportioned, post-war house. Knowing the unique history of the home and keeping their values clear, it was important to them to maintain the exterior look to continue to fit with the neighbourhood. “This neighbourhood is rich with history, it’s amazing to live on a street where some of the residents are eighty and ninety-years-old and can share stories of the original owners with us,” says Kay. As a custom-home builder at Goodison Construction and over 15 years building experience, Kay knew the midcentury bones were strong and the house was the perfect size for the two of them. They liked the layout of the house but looking to the future they knew that once they started a family they would need to maximize the space. “The attic wasn’t insulated so definitely not liveable with children and the basement was storage so that left us with very little space for our growing family needs,” says Kay.
With an appetite for modern design, as an artist and builder, this creative couple’s vision was to fashion an open-plan family home where they could comfortably live with their children and eventually start their own businesses. Kay was working for Bruce Wilkin Design at the time of the renovation and had enlisted Wilkin to design a home for a family of four with more functional square footage. The original plan was to gut the main floor and convert the attic to include dormers and create an extra bedroom and art studio. However, this plan involved completely reconfiguring the home, including moving stairs and entire rooms. Proving to be too onerous a plan with a baby and a toddler, Kay and Soos went back to Wilkin for an alternate plan.
With a generous amount of square footage in the back yard, Wilkin came up with Plan B which was to build an addition on the back while maintaining the existing layout. “This seemed the most ideal design for us; we gained square footage on the main without rearranging rooms. We appropriated a significant part of the yard but we had a generous amount of space to do so and we still have the perfect amount for our family,” explains Kay.
The main floor of this bungalow renovation involved a complete gut in order to properly insulate, install new windows, new wiring, and new plumbing. Kay had been working at Bruce Wilkin Design with Tony Aindow for about four years and hired Aindow to help him with the reno. “I was familiar with Aindow’s skills and knew he was a talented builder so I was confident we would work well together,” adds Kay. So well in fact, that the birth ofGoodison Construction was the result of this home’s transformation.
The main floor was expanded to create an open-plan, flooded with natural light, without losing privacy. Making a bold visual statement, the partially sunken living room creates visual intrigue and a sense of inviting warmth. Not quite a deep conversation pit of the 1970’s, a few steps down into the living space offers depth and cozy appeal, and provides some room definition without walls. “We love that the kitchen overlooks the living area, it keeps the family together and we make sure the boys aren’t strangling each other,” laughs Kay. The expansive open space is great for our busy family’s communication.
Efficient with space, Kay has created a modern and functional home with a simple profile that meets the needs of all members of the family. “The functional workspace below the kitchen is the hub of the house where the kids do homework, play with their toys, and we work. We love this area where we can all be together while we work or play, cook and clean. We prefer this to the kids being buried in their rooms,” says Kay. Fir was milled for the extension floors to match with the original fir floors. Fir was continued throughout the house and upstairs to maintain a cohesive flow.
“We created a functional kitchen for a family with two busy young boys. Our budget was stretched for the structural details of the extension so we had to be cost-effective in other areas. We’ll build our dream kitchen in the future but for now we are happy with our IKEA kitchen with laminate countertops. I’m definitely not stressed if the boys chip the countertop or are hard on the cabinetry. It was cost-conscious and it will be durable and functional for the next 20 years. We’ll build our dream kitchen when the boys move out,” smiles Kay.
To avoid the typical extension look Kay tore all the siding off the exterior and repapered it. “We made it built to last with stucco to create a homogenous look with the existing homes on the block. People questioned why we didn’t just tear down the entire house and rebuild it but it was important to us to create a family home that maintained the look of the neighbourhood. I’m not adverse to change but a house that sticks out like a sore thumb doesn’t appeal to me. This was one of our goals and the neighbours were very happy that we maintained the aesthetic of the neighbourhood,” says Kay.
Soos and Kay’s Oaklands home may be short on opulence but it is long on comfort, art, and character. FusingEames chairs and midcentury teak sideboards with her eclectic art collection, Soos has an discerning eye for creative detail. As a graduate of the Fine Arts program at the University of Victoria, Soos’ art collection is fun and adds texture and personality. Bearded print by Ashley Goldberg.
Appearing later in the renovation, the jewel in the crown is Soos’ home-based artelier, Poppet Art Studio. A whisper of what’s to come, lime green steps usher you up to a lively art space where Soos creates her own mixed-media paintings and as an art educator, hosts intimate classes for both adults and children.
An unassuming daybed tucked under a pitched roof in the corner of the studio doubles as both casual seating, and paired with a two-piece bathroom, can transform into a spare room for guests when necessary.