Set on a beautifully landscaped property, surrounded by 200 year-old Garry-oak trees in Oak Bay, a 1930’s, Tudor-Revival style house was lovingly restored into a contemporary family home while maintaining it’s heritage appeal. While searching for a contemporary home or the ideal-sized lot to build on, the clients discovered this solid historical charmer and fell in love with it’s bucolic allure. However, despite its perfect location, walking distance to the village and a short walk to the sea, the house was in a serious state of disrepair with it’s only updates from the 1970’s. With an appetite for contemporary design, the clients approached Zebra Group to help bring this grand Tudor home back to it’s former glory while giving it a modern revival.
While the facade retains its Tudor-style charm, the bright and airy interior boasts state-of-the-art contemporary finishes such as a custom-built wine room, double-sided fireplace, workout room, formal dining room, antiqued white oak plank flooring, and a gourmet kitchen boasting a light-filled corner banquette and two dishwashers for entertaining ease. “Our design challenge was to cohesively merge two opposing styles, traditional and contemporary, into an elegant, family home fit for two teenagers and frequent entertaining,” states Lorin Turner, Zebra’s interior designer. The client’s goals were to design a hybrid, spanning the eras, by enhancing some of the traditional elements of the house and bringing in some contemporary finishes. Originally built in the early 1930’s by renowned Oak Bay architect, Percy Leonard James (1878-1970), the home’s original features have been preserved while propelling the home into the twenty-first century.
Backed by this architectural strength, the clients sat down with Rus Collins, principal designer and co-owner of Zebra Group, to discuss the architectural and design details that would direct the renovation. Collins describes the introductory phase as an “in-depth conversation about aspects of both the architecture and design that work, what doesn’t work, what they would like to change, and ideally, the criteria for the client’s dream home. It’s my job to design the house to function properly and capture all the elements the client is looking for. I wanted to ensure that they stay as true to the exterior design as they could. The goal was to enhance the original features while moving it into the future. Historically, there had been an addition done on the house so we did our best to maintain the heritage and tie it all together to bring it up to date,” says Collins.
To capture the essence of the inspiration of this renovation, think modern makeovers to classic London, England row houses. Revitalized row houses as her muse, Turner’s aim was to retain and enhance the period features while modernizing the finishes to create an elegant and contemporary hybrid design. “Essentially we decided that anything architectural, such as coffered ceilings, millwork, and fireplaces would be designed with more classical elements and details to maintain the traditional Tudor look,” says Turner. The goal for the exterior was to maintain the Tudor-style and modernize it with contemporary colour selections. For the interior, any design elements like cabinetry, tile, and lighting for example, we chose clean, contemporary lines paired with a light, airy colour palette. We used classical materials such as travertine and marble in modern formats and layered more textural elements as opposed to bold strokes,” adds Turner.
Originally a dim, dysfunctional kitchen with insufficient space, Zebra reconfigured the main floor and built an addition on the back of the house which was earmarked for the heart of the home: the kitchen, built-in corner banquette, and an open and airy great room.
“Elegant and fashion-forward, our client loves to cook and entertain guests so priority was given to the kitchen and dining room,” says Turner. They needed to design a hard-working kitchen that was both functional and contemporary, open and welcoming, to both family and guests. The kitchen’s layout was carefully planned for serving both large social gatherings while creating a cozy, homey feel for their family. The addition of a corner banquette surrounded by windows provides an open, family feel, while bringing the look into the future. “We thoughtfully planned the flooring around our client’s love of high heels by choosing a white oak floor that was antiqued and aged to accommodate natural wear and tear.”
The balancing act between traditional and contemporary, serene and dynamic, is evident throughout the home. On the one hand, there is the natural-light filled great room with it’s wide-plank flooring, gallery-white walls, and clean, sophisticated lines; on the other, the dining room is imbued with an ornate, old world feel with dark antique wood, a six-lamp chandelier, and embellished gold frames for artwork.
Working with the existing wood burning fireplace location, an elegant moulded concrete surround makes a stately presence, but the soft hue prevents it from overwhelming the space.
With its grid of bold beams, coffered ceilings add dimension and character to the family room and enhance the traditional look. Coffered ceilings add a certain je ne sais quoi that signify elegance and luxury.
Old materials, new ways. The contemporary waterfall staircase design is finished in antiqued oak to match the flooring. In lieu of standard handrails, fourteen-foot frameless glass panels run from the main to the second floor. “On full display from the entrance, the staircase was a real head-scratcher; there was no way to expand or change the existing scissor configuration so instead of trying to conceal it, we enhanced it as much as possible with an open cascading waterfall design with all sides finished to match the hardwood and lovingly handcrafted on-site,” adds Turner.
Silver travertine tile inset is framed by antiqued white oak plank flooring. Custom lacquer painted built-ins offer ample storage for coats and shoes.
Low ceilings in the basement rendered the generous space nothing more than storage. Zebra Construction placed the house up on blocks, took out the entire foundation, and dug down to give it an 8-foot ceiling. This entire new floor allowed them to add an alluring wine cellar, media room, a large bedroom or den, workout room, and bathroom with direct access outside to a hot tub and shower. Custom-made fir panels frame the smoke-glass doors and display windows of the wine room, giving the standard wine rack kits a bespoke feel.
Double-sided fireplace, from the family room to the outdoor space, and overhead heaters bathe the deck in warmth and allow for private dining al fresco well into autumn.