Functional reno transforms a waterfront condo into a purpose-built luxe penthouse
BY DANIELLE POPE | PHOTOS BY DASHA ARMSTRONG
Victoria’s rainy, temperate climate was a selling point when Joni and Glenn were searching for their home. In fact, for the New York couple, it was between here and Seattle, given the moderate winters and mild summers — but with beautiful ocean vistas and a star property that matched the needs of these homeowners, Victoria won out.
“We knew we wanted to live downtown and in the hub area, and we decided to try spending a winter here, which we loved,” says Joni. “Glenn has a condition that makes it difficult for him to be in warm, humid weather. We knew from that winter experience that this was the right place for us.”
With accessibility a top priority in this couple’s search — along with air conditioning — the two found their match in a downtown, ocean-facing suite that allowed them the space to accommodate Glenn’s mobility devices as well as make renos that would suit their lifestyle.
“At 1,961 square feet, the suite is quite spacious, which we need, but we picked it due to its spectacular views of the Salish Sea and semi-industrial, naturalist areas,” says Joni. “One thing that’s important to both of us is accessibility for Glenn with his walker and scooter. We had to be very creative with how we were going to turn this unit into something esthetically pleasing for us that could work for Glenn.”
The two turned to Jenny Martin Design, and lead designer Alia Marshall, to help them fulfill their needs.
“Because these clients were living in New York, we basically did the whole project virtually,” says Marshall. “They were also moving from a fairly large house to a condo, so we had to make sure there was a home for each item, including flow for accessibility.”
While the suite itself was outdated, being on the seventh floor of a building with a unique hexagonal-shaped terrace meant the views alone were worth the investment. Still, the couple realized they would have to deal with heat gain as well as some unchangeable structural walls. That meant employing effective shades that let in as much light as possible while reducing excessive heat, and moving some rooms — like the laundry area — to rework the floor plan as much as possible.
“Their style was really a modern twist on mid-century, and this couple has a lot of antiques, from a stunning gold mirror to a grandfather clock and heritage table lamps, which meant we had to save space for these objects while still creating a fresh, warm, bright and inviting space,” says Marshall.
With a neutral, warm palette, earthy tiles, brass and signature antiques adding luxury, finishing touches included elevated wallpaper for the powder room, along with New York influences in the lighting and décor. Still, each area accommodates accessible living — from the hallway without hanging art (for ease of movement), to purpose-built nooks made to house special equipment and a washer/dryer unit on pedestals to avoid bending for laundry.
“We had to think about how one moves around the house during the day as well as at night, which meant bringing in motion-sensing lights recessed under the vanity and along the hall as well as recessed lighting low to the ground to guide you,” says Marshall. “It was great to work directly with Glenn to make sure his home is going to fit his lifestyle.”
Other elements included raised countertops, lowered cabinets and sconces, seating placements in the bathroom and kitchen for respite, esthetically pleasing grab bars in powder-coated black, fold-up benches in the shower, motorized blinds and built-in millwork, so everything can be tucked away.
The team was also able to accommodate extra storage, from the double island to a floating countertop over a full-length window, along with niches throughout the home and a waterbrush flooring finish to hide scratches with a natural look.
“The theme of this project was really that you don’t need to sacrifice style for accessibility,” says Glenn. “My study is one of my favourite areas. It has a closet that I can park my scooter in, charge it, and back it out to get to my car or go to the refuse room. The living area is where we spend a lot of time, though — with its fireplace, big-screen TV and sound system.”
Joni says one of her wishes for the space was that Glenn would be able to use the entire home. To make it as accessible as possible, the design team created plenty of counter and floor space for easy-to-work-in areas.
“The project definitely tested everyone to be more creative than we thought we needed to be, but it all worked out and I don’t feel like we had to give up anything,” says Joni. “The space is so functional and efficient that we can hide the things we don’t want to see and display the things we love.”