Transforming a claustrophobic mid-century bungalow in South Oak Bay, Zebra Group partnered with Maximilian Huxley Construction Ltd to create a contemporary, open-plan home bathed in natural light. The renovation revolution is having a thoughtful moment. A design theme is emerging that postulates it is more satisfying to live in a functional, well-designed space than an extravagant home with an abundance of dead space. Without a square foot to spare, Rus Collins, designer at Zebra Group, magically generated space to thoughtfully include the client’s extensive requirements within the existing walls of this modest bungalow. To maximize space and natural light, Collins and Maximilian Huxley initiated some tricks of the trade with repositioning, natural materials, skylights and french doors leading to an outdoor living space to give the illusion of more square footage.
A renovation of this calibre, including substantial structural modifications, walks a thin line between how to best carry out the remodel while working within the confines of a budget. A lesson in budget consciousness, the project goal was to do a complete gut, renovation and landscape overhaul and still remain cost-effective in terms of a luxury renovation. Collins warns that if you are not careful with the budget on a full renovation like this then you start to move into tear down territory where the client would be better served to build from scratch. Striking the perfect balance, with both an interior and exterior renovation, the team managed to rescue this bungalow within budget to create a bright home with custom contemporary details and a striking curb appeal.
Huxley adds that, “as a structurally complex project, the home required a significant amount of engineering to remove multiple walls and to determine beam placement. We added eleven hidden steel and wood structural beams to create an open living space that encourages entertaining and functional living with a natural flow to outdoor living spaces.” Considerable rearranging, like moving the master bedroom to the back of the house and the mudroom to the lower level, helped to unlock the potential of this home to create more livable space.
Lorin Turner, Interior Designer at Zebra Group, is credited with designing this stylish bungalow with a carefully curated art gallery appeal. “Contemporizing a bungalow on a budget is a challenge, particularly when practicalities, such as new windows, are a necessity,” says Turner. Adhering to a cool, monochromatic colour scheme for the exterior, Turner adds that “stainless steel accents and white trim, with minimal embellishment, provides a clean modern statement.” To add punch and personality, Huxley built a custom front door and painted it a bold, glossy Gucci orange. A modern alternative to dated glass panels on the sidelight (narrow pane of glass set alongside a door), Turner adds that, “white laminated glass panels offer a fresh aesthetic with privacy.” Stainless steel strips on the entry door align with the sidelight mullions to create a modern geometric welcome.
“Soft, silver sage paint adorns the walls to add depth to the white millwork and trim. Subtle enough not to compete with the owner’s extensive art collection, the colour provides just enough warmth to the space,” adds Turner.
Thoughtful lighting placement and shallow shelves in a custom milled, teak veneer built-in creates a feature wall for artwork and a place to showcase unique sculptures. Working with the existing fireplace, Huxley adds that, “repurposed kitchen countertops were used for the new black granite fireplace surround.”
For Turner, details are key in a modestly sized, open-plan design. “White custom light fixtures in the kitchen and dining space articulate the homeowner’s creativity without overpowering the space. High gloss white lacquer uppers reflect natural light from the windows and bring a sparkle and sheen to the kitchen while teak veneered lower cabinets, topped with engineered grey quartz countertops, add to the modern vibe. White subway tile backsplash with white grout seamlessly blend with the white uppers to round out this contemporary kitchen,” explains Turner.
The light toned materials and reflective surfaces, like the glossy white subway tiles and polished grey quartz stone countertops, enhance the home’s bright and airy feel. The black finish on the kitchen faucets add a contrasting touch to ground the light aesthetic.
“Instead of high impact paint colours, to feed the homeowner’s love of bold colour, vibrant green dining chairs and deep rusty red lounge chairs were added to create a dynamic space with character. Custom-made roman shades in a graphic ikat print punctuate the space, adding texture and personality to a predominantly pale palette,” adds Turner.
Custom built-in buffet with high gloss metallic resin coated doors, with a teak top, anchors the dining space and offers a mid-century modern feel. Adding to the functionality, the buffet adds convenient and practical storage for fine china and glassware while providing a focal point for artwork.
French doors leading to the exterior deck on the main floor adds to the home’s habitability and entertaining value. For architectural appeal and to maximize natural light, Huxley built a vaulted ceiling section with skylights over the stairwell to diffuse natural light to both levels of the house. Huxley adds that, “glass, metal and wood guard rails were custom-made to surround the stairwell. French doors off the kitchen lead to an outdoor area with virtually indestructible, Ipe deck tiles. Natural cedar, fir and walnut were used throughout the home to afford an organic feel and reflect the natural west coast surroundings.”
To create a functional flow on the main floor, Collins states that, “I am a big believer in keeping staircases and lower levels open; a lack of doors offers an open, accessible feel. Psychologically, the more accessible and connected the lower level, the more valuable the square footage feels. Our goal was to make the lower level feel like an extension of the main and not a secondary space.” On the lower level, a completely developed basement includes two bedrooms, laundry, recreation room and mudroom connected to the garage. Adding to the creative design, the pièce de résistance on the lower level is a climate-controlled wine cellar repurposed from a concrete room under the entry stairs.