BY DAVID LENNAM | PHOTOS BY GEOFF HOBSON
There’s an unremarkable-looking split-level on a sunny cul-de-sac in Cordova Bay, a throwback
to earlier times in the ’burbs. Once you step inside though, it’s farewell to yesterday.
Jane and Frank Bourree needed to open up an aging space, a large, five-bedroom house that had served their family well. The house was solid and, at 3,400 square feet, quite spacious, but suffered from a constricted layout that cramped their style and flair for entertaining.
“It was that classic late ’80s/early ’90s design where you had separated rooms and everything was closed off,” says Jane, who actually built the house in 1996 with her former husband.
“There was a formal living room that we never sat in except at Christmas, so really that kind of cliché,” she says. Even with 10-and-a-half-foot ceilings and banks of large windows it still lacked breathing room.
“There were walls everywhere, so it felt like a cavern,” adds Frank. “The rooms were just too small.” The home was designed to contain kids and was compartmentalized — a door would close and the adults could have their privacy. But with the kids grown and a lifestyle that favoured dinner parties for a dozen, walls had to come down and the main floor needed to be transfigured into an open plan.
Open Concept Space
It was redesigned to be what Jane refers to as “warm and elegant and simple at the same time. I wanted people to just be able to come in and feel comfortable. I didn’t want it to feel too formal. I had all these ideas, but no idea how to make it into a cohesive space. I just wouldn’t have had the confidence to put some things together. Tracey really helped me pull that together.”
That’s Tracey Lamoureux of Creative Spaciz Design Studio, who recognized the client’s desire for a brighter, more open floor plan with better traffic flow and lots of storage options. “It’s a philosophy of lifestyle now,” she explains. “The private spaces are your bedroom and a media room or maybe a games room. Everything else is public — open interactive social togetherness.”
The result was easier to achieve thanks to some future proofing within the original design by Jane’s brother-in-law, an architect. The hidden genius was a truss system bearing on the exterior walls with no point load inside, so none of the interior walls were structural and could all be removed. That allowed Lamoureux to create a great room that really is a great room.
“Right away I knew walls would come out and we would take advantage of the light,” she recalls. Additional glazing was installed in the new dining space, and larger sliding doors, a soft transition to the outdoor living area. The kitchen was moved toward the windows.
Better Living Through Design
The couple agrees that a more functional kitchen makes for better dinner parties.
“We can cook up a storm in there and there’s so much working space,” says Frank, whose favourite new element might be the Sonos sound system, with hidden subwoofers and speakers. It was a compromise so that Jane didn’t have to look at her husband’s 1980s stereo with the giant speakers.
“That took a bit of convincing for Frank,” says Jane. “He was married to that and I really pushed for the speakers in the ceiling.”
He may also have been married to the couple’s existing furniture. “Tracey just said, ‘If he really is stuck on it, put the old furniture in and he’ll decide that doesn’t look very good,’” Jane says.
Before they got to that point, new furniture was ordered. The most challenging aspect of the redesign was breathing light and air into a cramped and dark entrance foyer featuring a curved staircase, pony walls, rose carpeting, and different coloured walls.
“The entrances on split levels are usually the most lacking part of the home, which is something they addressed with me right away,” says Lamoureux. “There was no room. The stairs were right next to the swing of the door.”
Upgrading a Classic
The designer went back and forth with a lot of ideas to have the staircase coming straight down and landing in the same place it had originally, but scrapped them all.
“On one of the last days before construction started I said, ‘What if we removed this pony wall and had the stairs coming straight down into a different space?’” says Lamoureux. “It was the ideal solution. One more wall needed to be removed.”
The new staircase features an open stringer system, solid maple treads, with clear glass and stainless steel railings.
For Frank, the renovation has dramatically changed the atmosphere of their home. “In the morning the light fills the whole room and at sunset it fills the whole room from the other side,” he says. “We never had that before because the rooms were all broken up. This is a classic B.C. box floor plan and for people who have a B.C. box floor plan, well, this is what you can do.”
Designer: Creative Spaciz
Contractor: Outlook Project Management
Millwork: Ceanesse Kitchens
Counters: Colonial Countertops
Tile: Island Floors
Appliances: Lansdowne Appliance Gallery in Victoria and EuroCave Appliances in Vancouver
Window coverings: Ruffell & Brown
fireplace: Capital Iron