BY DANIELLE POPE / PHOTOS BY JAMES JONES*
(*with one exception as noted below.)
Victoria homeowners Rob and Shara had a lot to think about when defining the concept of their South Island home. It was to be a space that could accommodate two growing boys, family, friends and regular entertaining.
“We wanted our home to feel modern but approachable: a place where you can help yourself to anything and make yourself at home,” says Shara. “A place where everyone knows where to get the water glasses.”
All in the Family
Fortunately, the family was able to recruit two expert friends to help them envision a stylish but comfortable space: Kyla Bidgood, principal interior designer of Bidgood + Co. Interiors, and architect Franc D’Ambrosio, founding principal of D’Ambrosio architecture + urbanism.
“Because I know the family and their lifestyle personally, it made the process that much easier. They love to entertain, and wanted a home they could grow into,” says Bidgood. “As with every project, husband and wife often have different perspectives — Rob’s taste is modern and clean, and Shara likes pattern and colour. My job is to marry these two preferences and put the result through my lens of livability, buildability and flow.”
That infusion of styles brought striking results. Throughout the home, modern lines are accented with pops of colour — from the powder room’s bright hexagon tile backsplash to classic furniture pieces and modern fixtures that add flair to each space.
“This is probably my favourite kitchen that I’ve ever designed,” says Bidgood. “I love how we incorporated handmade elements and imperfect materials to give it more texture. It’s very contemporary, but you’ll see themes repeating throughout the house, like black hardware or metal on the sides of the island.”
Room for Play
The home, which was completed in 2019 over a span of two years, sits at 5,500 square feet, with four bedrooms and a nursery, six bathrooms, a den, an office, a family room and an open gathering area attached to the kitchen. The outdoor space is just as developed, with south-facing tiered terraces transitioning from sitting patios to gathering areas to a pool and playful green space.
The family and design team factored children into the plans in creative ways, with elements like a traditional U-shaped diner — fun for kids to slip into for breakfast, or gather around for arts and crafts.
“We thought about how fun it is for kids to run in circles, so we wanted an outside space that was designed for the boys to play like that,” Shara says. “When you have young children — ours are four and three — you have to imagine what you’re going to need in the future. You draw from your own experiences and remember what made you feel comfortable growing up.”
Shara says the design also had to accommodate for height — Rob is 6’7″ — so they needed a home that could comfortably fit everyone without feeling cavernous or too large.
“We have people over almost every weekend, and friends have become our family over these meals we create together,” Shara says. “We wanted an open-concept kitchen-living-dining room, because we wanted everyone to feel like they’re in the party. Even the outdoor space is connected. There’s continuity, too, so it doesn’t feel too big when it’s just us.”
Interconnectedness was the focus of D’Ambrosio’s work on this project. Specifically, the relationship between the interior and exterior architectural details. D’Ambrosio says he pays as much attention to what people will see from a window — like feature trees changing with the seasons — as to what they’ll experience inside the house.
“We had a challenge because the property was sloped in the back, and we wanted to create a seamless quality between the indoor and outdoor spaces, so we designed these terraces that could connect everything,” says D’Ambrosio. “You can move from the interior to the landing to the fire pit, then the pool, and in a few steps you’re in another character of space. Because of that drop, there were spectacular views, so we could really play with that as well.”
A Backdrop of Home
With D’Ambrosio’s intentionality, Bianca Bodley, principal landscape designer of Biophilia Design Collective, supported the project with choice flora and fauna. The property is decorated with feature Seiryu maple trees and layers of green ground cover, from pachysandra and Irish moss to tassel ferns and camellias. Accents of Japanese snowbells and panda bamboo are paired with feature evergreens, and Mexican feather grass provides movement.
“The clients wanted a feeling of lush green all year round, so we focused on creating layers upon layers of green, which builds beautiful texture against the amazing black backdrop of the house,” says Bodley.
Shara says the home is growing on them more every day.
“The more we use it, the more we’re falling in love with it. I have a few favourite spots, like sitting by the wood-burning fireplace, or staring out the windows to the Japanese maples,” says Shara. “But we’re still coming across these moments, even now — like the sight lines — and they create these little vignettes that are so beautiful and better than we could have imagined.”
The kitchen is the hub of this home, with entertaining occurring here on a weekly basis. To accommodate large gatherings, it had to seamlessly transition into the dining and living areas and the south-facing patio. The cabinets, painted in Benjamin Moore Knoxville Grey, provide a soft modern appearance, while playful pendants by ANDlight float above the kitchen island. The breakfast nook, with a 400-pound stone pedestal table, invites durable dining.
White oak was used to clad the main staircase at the centre of the space, and this was mirrored through the cabinetry, flooring and surrounding oak trees on the property. Marble from a quarry on Vancouver Island Marble was sourced for the bathrooms, complimented in the powder room by colourful hexagon handmade tiles, which add spark and play to the design. Hard-wearing black steel motifs appear on the kitchen island and in the hardware and plumbing throughout the house, bringing longevity to these features in a home with small children.
Architect: D’Ambrosio architecture + urbanism
Builder/Contractor: Aryze Developments
Interior Designer: Bidgood + Co.
Millwork: Splinters Millworks
Floors: Hakwood Engineered Oak Floors; Vancouver Island Marble (ensuite bath)
Appliances: Sub-Zero refrigerator; wall ovens and cooktop, Marvel
Light fixtures: ANDlight, Schoolhouse, Secto Design, Cedar & Moss, Muuto
Hardware: Cabinet hardware by Emtek, Restoration Hardware, Superfront
Landscaping: Biophilia Design Collective