Drawing on her years as an interior designer in Vancouver, Brooke Hatfield of Brooke Hatfield Design recreated her own character home in Victoria with a heavy dose of high style and a laid-back modern spirit. Located in the heart of Fairfield, just a short walk to the sea, the 1929 home has an “old English country cottage feel,” says Hatfield, who could see the home’s untapped potential when she initially viewed it.
Dubbed “Castlerock” by the former owners because of its unassuming turret, the home was completely gutted and renovated by Martin Scaia and his team at Green Island Builders. Scaia’s approach was to preserve and highlight some of the home’s classic original architecture while bringing in functional aspects for modern life. “Like any century-old home, Castlerock had its own character and peculiarities,” says Scaia, but a very clear set of design plans from Smith Architecture allowed him to approach the project with relative ease.
The home’s bones were solid but the 2,800-square-foot dwelling had a hodgepodge of prior upgrades that mostly maintained the original layout with a series of small, disjointed rooms that were rooted in the past. Two bedrooms on the main, alongside a formal living and dining room in a compartmentalized arrangement, was not conducive to a natural flow throughout the space.
Four different types of flooring coupled with unnecessary walls presented Scaia’s team with a solid amount of deconstruction work. “We wanted to create an open-concept main floor while maintaining the inherent warmth of some key architectural features of the home’s origin,” states Hatfield, who preserved the leaded glass sash windows to maintain the way natural light streamed in the windows.
Warm white walls with black accents and natural wood surfaces strike a balance between casual and chic. “We love to host gatherings, so I wanted a place where guests would feel comfortable enough to kick back and put their feet up. I didn’t want the place to feel precious at all.” White oak flooring throughout fosters a friendly open-concept flow while the crew also enlarged the entrances between rooms, expanding the standard six-foot-eight doorways to seven-foot-four which allows the ceiling to feel higher and lets light from the kitchen cascade into the lounge and dining area as well.
Sleek and spacious, the kitchen has become the focal point of the main floor and can handle a fair-sized gathering — important for the occasional party thrown here. Waterfall-edge quartz countertops on the island and Calacatta marble backsplash make an elegant statement against inky Benjamin Moore Black Panther painted lower cabinets and seamless pantry wall that conceals both the fridge and a basement door. Sculptural glass and brass pendant lights over the island are subtle and soft.
In the living room, the construction team removed the mantle and brickwork from the original fireplace to maintain the curved opening and create one of Hatfield’s most coveted features of the home, which she had Venetian plastered. “The juxtaposition between the shapes is striking and when the light hits the plaster, it just gleams,” says the designer.
“Colour-tinted millwork is my favourite look right now so I chose a warm grey for all the office cabinetry,” says Hatfield, who kept the walls warm white but injected personality and comfort with family heirloom oil paintings, fabrics, and striking area rugs. The renovated office is now spacious enough for two with plenty of storage for each of the business owners. Painting the original window frames black really helped tie in the old with the new to create a more polished, seamless look.
Hatfield’s talent for mixing classic architecture with a layered, collected look is evident in details like the striped Shetland wool stair runner from Roger Oates Design that adds another layer of warmth and was well worth her research to find a Canadian supplier. “I opted for curtains in every room as fabrics add texture and comfort and act as a frame for the view,” adds Hatfield, who used two different shades of rich blue linen for the living and dining room to echo the blue-grey tones found throughout the home. Contemporary light fixtures, like the modern pendant in the dining area and sconces beside the fireplace, were thoughtfully sourced to make a modern statement in the original architecture.
“While the front end of Castlerock maintains its original proportions, we removed a large portion of the back end interior walls which naturally required substantial structural work to properly transfer loads across the entire width of the structure and into the basement,” says Scaia. Extending the existing upper-floor dormer to create a spacious master bedroom, ensuite, and balcony was key to increasing the home’s functionality.
The former master bedroom and ensuite were very cramped and uninviting with a low ceiling height that prevented the owners from standing up straight at the ensuite sink. Hatfield adds that “the upstairs is still compact but is now inviting, cozy, and much more usable with an accessible patio that spans the length of the house and enjoys glimpses of the sea.”
The Green Island Builders team’s attention to detail and high-level craftsmanship are evident throughout the house and add a sense of refinement, particularly in the finer details like the custom-built staircase with a black steel banister. “I would have to say the entire main floor gets used and used well,” says Hatfield, who emphasizes that perhaps her absolute favourite place to relax is on the sumptuous sofa in the lounge room looking out the new French doors into the lush back garden.
The respectful reno retains the home’s historical sensibility yet allows the dwelling to enjoy an easy sense of flow, plush gathering zones, and an inviting kitchen ideal for both entertaining and cozy evenings at home. Shifting between neutral wall colours and punchy wallpaper, each room exudes its own personality and purpose with a contemporary blend of past and present.