An extensive rural renovation brings a 1940s equestrian farm into a new era
BY DANIELLE POPE | PHOTOS BY DASHA ARMSTRONG
When Elizabeth learned she was pregnant, she and her husband knew it was time to move to the Island to be closer to family. The pair had been based in Alberta but had travelled extensively due to Elizabeth’s equestrian career in show jumping, participating in major competitions, including the 2016 Olympics.
It was no surprise to anyone that the perfect home for this growing family would be a 10-acre equestrian farm on the Saanich Peninsula. Their dream was to lay down roots and launch their own business, and the property glowed with promise. But a few challenges with the existing 1940s farmhouse needed to be addressed.
“The property had a beautiful barn and pastoral area, which was very appealing to us, but we were planning on doing a small reno — there were little things that didn’t work, like for the laundry, you had to go outside to another room,” says Elizabeth.
The house had been built for another era, with small rooms and dark corners restricting its function. One bathroom was scabbed on decades ago, and the space was disjointed, with a dated kitchen and living room. Still, the family wanted to keep heritage where possible and not make unnecessary changes. That’s where Danielle Keogan, principal of Maverick Designs, and her team came in.
Beyond the request for an improved laundry, the crew identified the need for light, a more functional layout, increased square footage and outbuildings to suit daily living.
With the additions altering the roofline, the house needed integration as well as a focus on bedrooms and walk-in closets. Other necessary upgrades included a new roof, new perimeter drains, new electrical supply to the house and a restructured electrical network to the property’s buildings.
“There was no doubt this home was ripe to be converted,” says Keogan. “As soon as you walked in, you could see it was so charming, but it was not at all functional for the way people live now, and it was clearly going to be challenging to figure out how to incorporate all the necessary alterations.”
Because the house was on a working equestrian farm, Keogan knew it was important to consider sight lines for the family’s privacy while capturing maximum natural light. The team planned to reconfigure the existing footprint of the roughly 1,600-square-foot house and add another 1,100 square feet with a new primary bedroom suite and walk-in closet, as well as a two-car garage, mechanical room and mudroom.
“We wanted the home to feel a certain way, with more natural light and an open floor plan, which is important so people could keep eyes on a busy young boy,” says Keogan. “We were very aware of the height of the windows. If someone was driving down the driveway or going to a paddock, we wanted windows raised to the back of the sofa so we could keep the farmhouse esthetic and charm but offer better privacy.”
Though there was limited space at the entry of the home, an eight-foot glass door was selected to bring a feeling of grandeur. With the ceiling height increased in the main living area, the home held a new expansiveness.
The addition of the garage entrance and mudroom meant front door clutter could be avoided. Meanwhile, custom touches, like the reclaimed wood fireplace mantel, rustic wide-plank hardwood flooring and black lacquered barn doors, preserve a charming esthetic.
“Modern farmhouse design is about striking the right balance between minimalist and country living,” says Keogan. “The modern farmhouse retains a bit more sophistication than the rustic country homes of the past, but it was important to retain the heritage of this original farmhouse and integrate seamlessly with the acreage and farm life that surrounds it.”
Clean neutral tones, organic materials, layered textures and contrasting black elements add edge to this design. Vaulted shiplap ceilings and oak beams create a strikingly open space throughout the home.
A Venetian plaster hood fan draws the eye upward in the kitchen, while concrete-inspired quartz kitchen countertops, a painted brick fireplace in the living room and handmade duck-egg-blue glazed tile in the ensuite create dynamic accents in their spaces. The theme is timeless, simple, elegant — and low maintenance.
“As hands off as these clients were, I knew the details mattered to them,” says Keogan. “It took me 10 months to find the right fireplace mantel, which we discovered in Indiana as railway ties from reclaimed timber. However, we salvaged the bricks in the original fireplace, so there is new and old in one.”
One important feature in this reno was the revision of the bedrooms. Closet sizes were increased in all three bedrooms, a gap was created between the primary bedroom and child’s bedroom for noise consideration, and an intentional effort was made to establish equality between “his and her” sides.
Given differing schedules, the primary bedroom’s walk-in and ensuite — nearly the same size as the bedroom itself — was designed as a getaway from the bedroom so morning routines could go smoothly. The primary bedroom is tucked away from the rest of the farm, nestled between hedges and a beautiful garden that looks out on a new courtyard.
“There were a lot of things I didn’t realize I wanted — I was definitely overwhelmed with the reno and building our business — but Danielle found solutions for everything,” says Elizabeth.
“She did a good job of thinking not only about now, but also about what our son will need when he’s 10 and wants more privacy. I just said it had to be warm and bright and clean and simple, and she magically made it happen.”
Designer: Maverick Design
Builder: Maxwell Developments
Framer: Adam Benning
Plumbing and Mechanical: Oceanview Mechanical
Electrician: VI Electric
Light Fixtures: Pine Lighting
Windows, Doors and Hardware: Westeck Windows + Doors
Roofing: Ascension Roofing
Tile: Hourigan’s Flooring
Kitchen Appliances: Coast Appliances
Countertops: Abstract Stone
Plumbing Fixtures: Splashes Bath & Kitchen
Flooring: Hourigan’s Flooring
Cabinetry AND Millwork: Hobson Woodworks
Paint: Brock Solid Paint Co.