BY LINDA BARNARD | PHOTOS BY JODY BECK
It’s not easy getting to the off-grid Metchosin house that Dean Read and his partner, Bradford Bell, purchased in 2018. Accessible only by a white-knuckle drive up an unpaved road along the side of Camas Hill, it’s as striking as it is remote.
When the two started planning the update on their house last year, Read and Bell wanted to create a home so peaceful and comfortable it would be just as hard to leave.
Navigating their busy lives in finance and high-profile entertainment, the pair craved a summer refuge to share with their goldendoodles, Harley and Astro. When they first bought the dramatic 28-acre property, they imagined it as their future retirement residence.
Built in 1993 and designed by Victoria architect Nigel Banks, the house is set among trees on the edge of a bluff. The design pays homage to legendary architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Arthur Erickson, with five decks designed to take advantage of views across Sooke Harbour and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, all the way to the Olympic Mountains. The airy interior features exposed wood and is filled with natural light from oversized windows. A low-sloping roof with a jutting roofline gives the house a powerful, dynamic feel.
Climbing the mountain
Read and Bell wanted to both bring in a contemporary look and upgrade the in-floor heating system. With the help of Victoria kitchen design firm IKAN, they modernized the kitchen, adding fresh countertops, cabinets and hardware, as well as new appliances.
With renewed motivation, the pair kept going. Martin Scaia, founder and principal of Green Island Builders, and Brooke Hatfield, of Brooke Hatfield Design, supported the design of the main-floor bathroom, closets and lighting. The team removed walls, relocated a staircase that was cutting into the kitchen and renovated the flooring. Updates to the woodstove, hot water system and plumbing were also needed.
The biggest challenge of the project was getting to the site.
“It is a pretty fierce road,” Scaia says. “But when you’re going up the road, all of a sudden, you see the house on the hilltop, and it’s just a stunning view.”
It was Scaia’s Ford F-250 pickup that got the job done, including shuttling crew members unable to navigate the steep road. It also delivered the 24-by-24-inch tiles from Horrigan’s Flooring that would eventually cover the entire main floor.
Read had hoped to replace the pebbly composite flooring with solid concrete, but cost and accessibility made it improbable. Instead, he chose the pale grey tiles and, to save on removing the old floor, Scaia’s team used a self-levelling compound and set the tiles over top.
Away from it all
“I just thought [the home] was this oasis away from the city — and breathtaking, really,” says Hatfield. “It’s just situated so well on the hillside and overlooks the wilderness.”
Her goal was to keep that oasis feel with a simple design: all the elements of modern life with an off-grid heart.
The dated bathroom at the back of the house was revised with a new layout, large white tiles, light-coloured wood vanity and black fixtures. The walk-in shower is framed by a massive window overlooking the forested mountain top. Read says it’s the next best thing to an outdoor shower.
“There’s nobody outside. So, privacy is not an issue,” he says.
Read wanted sparks of modern flair, like the dramatic pendant lights now hanging in the foyer, inspired by hand-blown pendants Read saw in New York. Hatfield sourced Øst pendants from SØKTAS in Australia.
“That was a little bit nerve-wracking for me, more so than the bathroom, because I knew he was spending a lot of money on those and I really needed to get
it right,” says Hatfield.
Because she wasn’t onsite often, Hatfield made a template to place the lights and drew a grid on the ground so that the electrician would know exactly where
to put the junction boxes.
A sustainable approach
“One of the things I really appreciated about Martin and his team is they weren’t just doing the job we asked them to do. They were actually looking for creative ways of solving problems and finding efficiencies,” says Read.
One of those solutions was replacing dated, mirrored doors. When the shiplap-style doors Hatfield suggested were cost prohibitive, Scaia cut vertical plank-like grooves into solid wood doors with a router, creating lower-cost duplicates.
Throughout the project, Scaia was concerned about materials — in terms of cost and the environment.
“It makes more sense to reuse the existing structures we have, and bring these structures into the modern age … without a lot of intervention or a lot of extra resources,” Scaia adds. “It just takes careful planning and good design.”
Meanwhile, Read and Bell are considering renovating the second floor when the timing is right.
“We’re very happy,” Read says. “We comment on it all the time, how lucky we are to live here and how much we love the place. To be honest, it’s not easy, but the challenges are worth it and we’re fortunate to live here in this space.”
Surrounded by dramatic views from the crest of Camas Hill, these homeowners wanted to update their interior to a modern, peaceful oasis. They replaced the composite floors throughout the main level with large grey tiles, which sets the tone and flow for the house.
Original architect: Nigel Banks
Builder/Contractor: Martin Scaia, Green Island Builders
Interior Designer: Brooke Hatfield, Brooke Hatfield Design
Millwork/cabinets: IKAN Installations
Floors: Hourigan’s Flooring
Tile setting: T.I. Tiling
Stone: Abstract Stone
Walnut countertop: Neufeld Furniture
Appliances: Coast Appliances
Light fixtures: entry pendant lights from SØKTAS; hallway Simba sconces from Arteriors; bathroom Mara sconces from Tech Lighting; dining room Mobile chandelier from West Elm.
Windows: Pacific View Windows and Doors
Hardware: IKAN Installations
Doors: Custom, Martin Scaia, Green Island Builders
Electrical: VIP Electric
Plumbing: Solid Plumbing & Gas