Heeding the old axiom you can’t judge a book by its cover, this custom Bruce Wilkin design in Fairfield greets guests with a surprisingly modern interior enveloped in a traditional facade. To minimize discrepancy with the neighbouring arts and crafts homes, Chris and Jenny Marshall requested that the exterior echo the streetscape’s existing vernacular. After two previous builds with Wilkin, the couple looked to the designer for his expertise in both contemporary and traditional builds. The Marshalls were confident Wilkin could make a contemporary statement without overshadowing the turn-of-the-century homes in the neighbourhood. With gallery-like wall space to house their ever-growing art collection and a separate accommodation for family at the top of their wish list, the result is a swoon-worthy home with a modern sensibility.
With an interest in architecture from a young age and a background in construction, Chris Marshall knows design. After two previously successful builds with Wilkin, working with him on their third was a no-brainer. Introduced to Wilkin’s design work close to a decade ago when, new to Victoria, they were perusing real estate online, the couple discovered Wilkin had an established reputation as a knowledgeable designer. “It’s rare for a designer to do bothtraditional and contemporary well, but Wilkin is the exception,” Marshall states.
Having previously designed a home for the owners, Wilkin was very familiar with the couple’s style. “I emailed the preliminary plans to the owner the day she boarded a flight to Italy and it was a done deal the next day with very few changes. Sometimes it just works out,” says Wilkin. The design is simple and functional. As Wilkin adds, “as a part of the main living space, the no-gimmicks style kitchen quietly takes its place in the open-plan.” All kitchen cabinetry and built-ins done by Jason Good Custom Cabinets and Furniture.
“Once Bruce presented the final design, I supplied the plans to Slegg Lumber, they built panels in the factory and shipped them to the site,” says Marshall. Accurate and square, panel systems are built in a controlled environment and kiln-dried. Contributing to a faster build, Marshall adds that this process creates less waste and an overall reduced environmental footprint which is important to the couple.
Wilkin designed the exterior to fit with the existing streetscape and the interior reflects a modern lifestyle. Well-versed in the midcentury modern sensibility, Wilkin states that “a simple design and quality materials define this custom home.” The low-slung Spencer sofa with chaise by Gus Modern anchors the lounge area with a midcentury mod feel.
The homeowner’s growing art collection played an important role in the home’s design scheme. Wilkin helped the couple with colour palette selection, choosing a particular off-white by Benjamin Moore to create a gallery-like backdrop. Introducing colour through decor and art create areas of interest in a monochromatic landscape.
Whether escaping to a peaceful outdoor retreat with a book or entertaining guests, Wilkin created two separate and versatile outdoor living spaces. French doors open off the dining area to expand the livable space for al fresco dining and entertaining. “Indoor/outdoor living is a great concept in our climate — I especially like the hidden patio in this design. These little outdoor spaces really add to the expansiveness of the house,” Wilkin adds.
Requested by the couple, another notable feature is a separate legal and conforming garden suite accommodation. The 400-square-foot suite encroaches on the yard, but with thoughtfully planned landscaping and raised patios, it will be a private haven in the future. An involved and arduous process, rezoning took 10 months to complete.
Rezoning is required to legally have a garden suite but according to Wilkin, “the long process is well worth the effort.” He applauds the City of Victoria for allowing this type of living space in urban neighbourhoods. Grey upper cabinets paired with white lowers reflect the colour palette of the kitchen in the main house and brings a contemporary vibe to the compact space. Classic white subway tile and sleek hardware add to the minimalist aesthetic.
Essential to a relaxing soak, the contoured sides of the modern Amalfi tub by Victoria and Albert gracefully extends to the floor with an extended backrest providing full head support.
According to Wilkin, the master bedroom and ensuite have some complexity due the vaulted ceilings and the structure of the roof expressed on the interior. The minimalist decor coupled with a soothing palette create a serene refuge in the master bedroom. The Mooi light fixtures accentuate the light airy feel and pull the design together.
- Home Designer: Bruce Wilkin
- Contractor: Chris Marshall
- Millwork: Jason Good Custom Cabinets
- Lighting: Illuminations Lighting Solutions
- Countertops: Arctic White Quartz, Kings Granite Works
- Glass: Royal Oak Glass
- Windows: Westeck Windows & Doors
- Tile: Stone Tile, installed by Alberto Santos
- Flooring: White Oak
- Bath and Kitchen Fixtures: Victoria Specialty Hardware
- Tub in en suite: Victoria & Albert
- Mooi Fixtures: Gabriel Ross
- Home Automation: Sound Hounds
- Furniture: Gabriel Ross
- Bedroom Suite Furniture: Inform Interiors
- Reading/Media Room Furniture: Gus sofa from Chester Fields. All other pieces from Gabriel Ross.