BY KIM PEMBERTON | PHOTOS BY DASHA ARMSTRONG
After 27 years of living in rentals in Hong Kong, Alain and Crystal Bedard found the perfect penthouse where they can enjoy their retirement in Victoria.
Alain was a pilot and Crystal a labor delivery nurse prior to moving to Vancouver Island to enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle. For this couple, a big benefit of returning to Canada was that they could finally buy a home and make it their own.
“We’ve always had to live with someone else’s choice, from tiles to flooring,” says Crystal. “This is our first home together.”
Crystal found the corner-unit penthouse while visiting friends in the neighbourhood. Alain was still in Hong Kong, but, after seeing the condo on a video call, agreed it was the right choice.
“It was perfect — except for the finishes,” says Crystal.
A long-distance affair
Working through the challenges of the pandemic and living abroad, the couple updated their newly acquired, 1,437-square-foot condominium, enlisting the help of MAC Renovations and interior designer Alexis Solomon. The project started in January 2020 and was completed just 10 months later.
“Dockside Green is a relatively new building and the finishes were still updated and contemporary, but they had some wear and tear,” says Solomon. The penthouse had been previously rented and its dark, bamboo flooring wasn’t in good shape.
The kitchen cabinetry was dark brown, as were the countertops, so they too had to go due to the lack of contrast.
“It was beige-on-beige-on-beige, and they’re not beige people,” says Solomon. “[Alain and Crystal] have a really elegant style and like a dramatic look, while still being classic.”
Solomon recommended a hand-scraped, white oak wood flooring, which is forgiving if accidentally scratched. The couple also took Solomon’s advice and opted for two-tone kitchen cabinets in both light and dark colors, with easy push-button opens. Crystal jokes that she had to give her husband something to remember about his former life flying planes, since he was accustomed to “always pushing buttons.”
Because the cabinets, locally sourced from South Shore Cabinetry, would be hit with so much light from the adjacent floor-to-ceiling windows, the designer avoided real oak, which would discolour in time, and opted for a durable print that looks like bleached wood.
New quartz countertops, provided by FloForm Countertops Victoria, included a feature Crystal had long admired: the waterfall countertop kitchen island.
The sleek lighting over the island was an idea contributed by Alain, who had seen it used in an Apple computer commercial. The light was found at McLaren Lighting and Alain points out that its linear shape keeps the sightlines clear — from the outdoor view to the interior open-concept living/dining kitchen space.
“Lighting can really make or break a design,” says Solomon, who also has a bachelor’s degree in theatre and set design. “If you look at a stage and it’s lit well, it transforms a space.”
Lighting makes a bold statement throughout the home. For instance, recessed lighting is used in the powder room to illuminate a feature wall of charcoal grey, cubic shaped porcelain tiles with a 3D effect. The same recessed lighting was used on the sides of the fireplace, which has a surround in both dark and light tones. Care was taken by Decora Tile on the room’s focal point to ensure the television above the fireplace was perfectly flush to its tile surround.
“I wanted it to look more like a picture frame and, behind that, all the components are completely hidden,” says Alain.
Since the couple was living in Hong Kong and couldn’t travel during the pandemic, they weren’t able to see, first-hand, how the renovation was progressing. They were, however, thrilled with what MAC Renovations had accomplished when the final reveal happened after packing up their former life and moving back to Canada.
“It was almost like an HGTV show,” adds Solomon.
Builder/Contractor: MAC Renovations
Designer: Alexis Solomon
Millwork: South Shore Cabinetry
Counters: FloForm Countertops
Floors: Mirage Floors
Light fixtures: McLaren Lighting
Kitchen sink faucet: Brizo
Doors: Berkley Doors
Tiles: Decora Tile
Bathroom cabinets: Sidler International