Straddling their home in North Vancouver and their waterfront condominium on Dallas Road in Victoria, Lorraine and Doug Conn are on the cusp of calling Victoria home. Ready to leave their hectic Vancouver lives behind, the Conns are drawn to Victoria for its relaxed outdoor lifestyle and natural beauty. Lorraine Conn’s parents knew the Porter family who built the Dallas Road building in the early 1970’s. The Porters lived in one Penthouse and they wanted Lorraine’s parents to live in the other (which Conn notes was priced at $37,000 in 1971). An all concrete building, built on bedrock, the building is as solid as they get, but her father had a spacious home in Oak Bay that proved too difficult to leave.
“Fast forward 41 years and my mom saw a unit for sale in the building. I came over from Vancouver to view it and as soon as I walked in and saw the ocean vistas I knew it was right,” says Conn. Eager for the downtempo pace of Victoria, the professional couple began a full gut and long distance redesign from their home in Vancouver. GivingJenny Martin Design carte blanche on the project, the Conns transformed the formerly dated condo into an elegant and eclectic home designed for living.
Offering a sense of balance to the kitchen, symmetrically spaced black door frames on the upper cabinets echo the black of the island’s lower cabinets and provide a dynamic contrast to the predominantly white palette of the room. Conn hired Ian Dunn to do the carpentry after seeing his meticulous work in a neighbouring condo and, after finding Jenny Martin Design online, she was confident Martin’s team could emulate their desired aesthetic.
“Jenny Martin’s style and ideas really resonated with my own. After our first consult she knew exactly what we wanted; we were speaking the same language,” says Conn. Embarking on a long distance renovation from Vancouver was challenging, but we were happy with how everything was handled from a working relationshipstandpoint,” states Conn.
Mari O’Meara, interior designer at Jenny Martin Design notes that, “the condo had been virtually untouched since the 1970’s. With drab cabinets, old carpet throughout and tired hardware, the space was desperate for an overhaul. Our goal was to open up the space and take the best from traditional design and fuse it with a bright modern twist,” says O’Meara. Pairing timeless, classic finishes like crown mouldings with contemporary design, O’Meara curated an eclectic concept that incorporates the couple’s treasured antiques and reflects their love of travel.
With a traditionally styled home in Vancouver, the Conns were motivated to evolve their design aesthetic to incorporate their antiques and embrace a more personalized, contemporary style. Blending a natural wood feature coffee table from Autonomous Furniture Collective, bold patterns and global pieces collected over the years, the Conns have created a dynamic space that’s both sophisticated and livable.
With the goal of keeping their ocean front space bright and open, the only colour parameters from the Conns were to avoid anything overly dark and as Conn clearly stated, nothing from the beige family of hues. “I felt confident to leave it up to O’Meara to choose our colours and we couldn’t be happier,” Conn states. Suggesting cool neutrals that would pair beautifully with antiques, O’Meara created a canvas for the feature pieces to take centre stage.
Floor-to-ceiling customized built-ins offer ample storage and allow the Conns to maximize every inch of their small space. Glass fronts on upper cabinets showcase personal heirlooms and antiques and an unassuming mirror reflects light from the large dining window. Highly reflective collectibles on display add to the room’s sparkle and shine and the lower section minimizes clutter by providing hidden solutions for kitchen overflow and dining accessories.
Embracing patterns, shine, texture and contrast to exude an elegant, eclectic feel, the Conns were not afraid to marry antiques and new, modern pieces. “The chandelier in the dining room, for example, uses traditional crystals to give it sparkle but in a very elegant transitional design,” says O’Meara. Bridging design styles and eras, the home finds it’s harmony through contrast bound by warm, neutrals and natural materials.
For the Conns, one of the highlights of living in Victoria is their daily walk to visit the unique coffee shops in town. “We were walking down Government Street on our way to Luxe Fine Furniture and we saw the Autonomous Furniture Collective showroom. “I am so drawn to what they are creating in their shop, it is just so west coast and represents everything we love about living here,” says Conn.
Kirk Van Ludwig, owner and lead designer at Autonomous, showed us a piece of wood and we immediately fell in love with it. I knew that was it. Then Van Ludwig mentioned pairing it with concrete legs and I couldn’t get my head around it at first. But I trusted him with his craft and the result is a beautiful art piece; it is so creative, I just love it. As a grounding force, the concrete works with the rest of the furniture and colours; it is a jewel in our space.”
O’Meara turned an otherwise dead zone entryway into an awe-inspiring highlight of the design. Guests are greeted at the door with a wall niche framing an original, 400-year-old, door from India. Artful and dramatic, the first impression space sets the tone for the rest of the condo and speaks to the couple’s love of travel. Conn states that, “we saw the door in an antique store in India and we fell in love with it. It took 6 months to ship it from India, but it was worth it. When we walk in and see it every day, we remember our experience and it takes us right back to the feeling of India.”
Daring lion wallpaper adorns the entrance wall to echo the Indian motif and create a majestic welcome for guests. Emphasizing the dynamism of the space, inset tile flooring in the foyer blends sophistication with bold design to introduce the condo’s eclectic aesthetic. “Every piece in our new design has a story,” says Conn, “that’s what really makes this a home for us.”
Going beyond mere function, O’Meara created a style statement in the powder room with the Conn’s love of high impact patterns paired with natural materials. High contrast floral wallpaper paired with a “wood grain” ceramic tile flooring creates a wow-factor space that has the effortless glamour of a Parisian boutique hotel.
A predominantly neutral palette for the bedroom offers a serene escape and allows the view of the Juan de Fuca Strait to sing. Floor-to-ceiling built-ins maximize storage and keep visual clutter at bay.
Gold Syroco (Syracuse Ornamental Company) antique shelves were thoughtfully sourced for floating bedside tables and hand-painted with a white chalk paint by a member of Jenny Martin’s design team. Topped with Carrara marble, by Floform Countertops, the side tables offer a light, elegant Parisian look.