Devon Paige Smith/Tweed Magazine
It’s the nature of love that it catches you off guard. And nothing rang truer for a couple who had strong love for Victoria’s heritage homes but found themselves making an offer on a recently built, very contemporary home on the Oak Bay border.
The story starts in 2017 when the couple decided to sell in Vancouver and make the move to the island.
“We were tired of the hustle of Vancouver, the traffic, the noise. We had been wanting a change and we decided back in 2017 that we were ready,” explains one of the homeowners, sitting in her bright, beautiful kitchen on a sunny summer afternoon.
The two had been looking almost exclusively to purchase a heritage home, and when an offer fell through on a house they absolutely loved, there were a few moments of sadness—at least for one of them.
“I think my husband was actually relieved, because the heritage home did need extensive work,” the homeowner laughs.
“We truly thought we had our minds set on a heritage home—my parents used to build houses, but, as well, they restored a condemned heritage home. So I was just always surrounded by it. I love being involved in projects and working with a contractor and designer, so it was something I had always wanted to do. So you can imagine our surprise when this is where we ended up,” she laughs, motioning around the room.
The listing for their 2007-completed West Coast Contemporary home originally caught the eye of their younger son, who had a taste for architecture.
“I remember he came to us with this listing and said ‘I know it’s not exactly what you’re looking for but you have to see this.’ So we had a look. When we saw the rooftop garden, I was immediately intrigued,” she explains, adding that she began to imagine the potential for growing her own vegetables and herbs. “When we actually came to see the place in person, of course, that became the selling feature for both of us—how could it not be?”
The rooftop in question is actually a 1,000-plus-square-foot rooftop patio with a 360-degree view of the city, the ocean, Mount Baker, Haro Strait and beyond. The homeowners have made the most of the space by converting much of it to food-producing, raised-bed-style planters, bursting with a variety of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and more. A seating area, complete with outdoor fireplace, sets the stage for summer entertaining—something the homeowners do a lot—and offers an amazing place for stargazing after dark.
“It really was the selling feature for both my husband and myself when we bought the house, but for me, my love has grown deeper for the community,” adds the homeowner, emphasizing her love for the Oak Bay Avenue business community and the walkability of Victoria in general.
“Where we lived in West Vancouver, nothing was walkable,” she explains. “Here, I can pop out the door and walk or bike to any number of amazing local businesses and get everything I need.”
Aside from the rooftop patio, the 3,500-plus-square-foot home boasts beautiful open-concept living, dining and kitchen spaces with views of giant Garry oaks and ocean glimpses. Birds, squirrels and deer frequent the yard and serve as live, round-the-clock entertainment for humans and house cats alike.
The home was designed by Victoria architects de Hoog and Keirulf (the firm now known as dHKarchitects) and the custom interior was designed by Robert Ledingham. The homeowners have made a few adjustments to the house since purchasing it five years ago, but have kept much of the original design.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the second owners of this home, as well, because they were instrumental in a lot of the design aspects I love, like the master bedroom built-ins and headboard,” explains the homeowner.
Floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights are abundant throughout the multi-level house, giving anyone inside a sense of treehouse-living. The kitchen is bright, well appointed and has a large island perfect for entertaining.
“If I had to pick another favourite feature of this home it would be that island; it’s just so practical,” says the homeowner.
An unexpected feature—but one the homeowner has found to be very useful over the last couple of hot summers—is the six-by-40-foot lap pool, on the second-floor patio.
“It’s something I’ve grown to love having here, and I find myself using it daily in the summer for exercise or just to cool down,” she explains.
With a total of four bedrooms and three and one-half bathrooms, the house has plenty of space for the homeowners, their two (now young adult) boys who visit frequently, and their two rescue cats.
“We’ve made it our own over the last five years, which has been fun,” says the homeowner, whose passion for design and art is obvious throughout the home.
Pieces by artists from all walks of life adorn the walls, including work from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s (AGGV) Art Rental and Sales Program.
“That’s been such a great program for us because I love being able to live with a piece in the space before I decide it’s the right one,” says the homeowner.
It’s this relationship with the AGGV that has also gotten their home on the radar of the 2022 AGGV Gallery Associates House Tour, an online event which runs this year from September 18 through to October 30.
“Tickets for the tour went on sale September 1 and people from all over the world can have the chance to peek inside five magnificent Greater Victoria area homes, including this one,” explains Pat Preston, a gallery associate working on the tour.
Each home featured in this year’s event will have homeowner-led tours to point out unique features and art pieces, she adds.
Tickets are $35 and ticket holders will be able to view the homes online as many times as they want between September 18 and October 30. For tickets and more information, check out aggv.ca/house-tour-2022-video-edition. All proceeds go to the AGGV.