Exterior Motives: A 1960s home transformation
Desire for curb appeal transforms 1960s home
By Carolyn Heiman. Photos by John Yanyshyn/VisionsWest Photography
Every house has its story but Donna and Marty Schubert’s home has several editions. A small bedroom, which was once their master bedroom, is practically the only thing that remains relatively the same from when they purchased the 1960s-circa home in 1990.
In the time between, a number of changes were made both inside and out to make better use of space and respond to trends. At one point, subdividing in the neighbourhood, affected the orientation of the house to the street, so changes were made to put the front door where it ought to be – the front.
Next an outdoor project expanded the living space and with it, the kitchen was updated. But the recent “edition”, as the couple likes to refer to the current iteration of their living space, which is sweepingly west coast modern and has completely reconfigured the interior space right down to putting bedrooms where the kitchen was, triggered by a desire to paint the exterior of the house.
How they got from picking a paint colour to a wholesale, front-to-back renovation of the home is an interesting chapter and one that is no doubt familiar to many people who start with the idea of changing a small element in their house and find they are not embarked on a much bigger journey.
Donna modestly says that neither she nor Marty have much of a decorating gene in their bones – or so they believed – and they went to a paint store to ask what they could do to give their cedar clad home more curb appeal. “You need a designer,” they were told and that led them to Wil Peereboom from Victoria Design Group in Victoria, B.C. for guidance.
The home designer, whose firm has designed 7,500 homes over the 50 years in business, laid out a strategy for the exterior, and, at the Schuberts’ request, ideas to update the kitchen.
Then came the wait for their preferred contractor to become available. It was in this renovation limbo land that the Schuberts next started to wonder if they were investing wisely with the kitchen renovation given that the central hub of the home was in a very awkward location. Far from the swimming pool where they often entertained, the couple laugh as they tell how they would use cordless phones to communicate from the kitchen to the pool area to coordinate food delivery when entertaining guests.
“Every house tells its own story,” says Peereboom, and in this instance it was about the complete disconnect between the kitchen and the pool. As well, the owners had to travel the furthest possible distance to bring groceries in from the garage to the kitchen.
“We were spending a fair bit of money to update the kitchen but in the end, the kitchen would still be in the wrong place,” says Donna.
Looking back on the project, they’re grateful that the original project didn’t proceed. Instead of just putting on a new shade of lipstick to the home, it’s been decked it out with a complete new look and feel. More importantly, it now functions for their lifestyle that includes a lot of casual dining and time spent out of doors around the pool area. The lesson: “If you’re not over the moon with what you’re going to do, then hit pause,” says Marty.
Today the expanded, casual entertainment-friendly home is completely reconfigured to connect the two parts of the home that have the most activity – the kitchen and the outdoor swimming pool. Peereboom pushed the kitchen work area back in the new addition now fronting the pool, put a large transom window over the patio doors, creating a dynamic interaction between the sky and the water on the pool.
Varying raked roofs add angular dynamics and inside the out-of-date stippled finishes on the ceilings have been removed to create continuity from one area to the next and avoiding the obvious demarcation between the old and new spaces that can mar the overall effect of a renovation. The master bedroom now has a restful connection to the green oasis off a balcony and its ensuite now has the serene garden view once had from the kitchen.
Ken Breuker of Oak Bay Construction led the project and says the Schuberts saved considerable money going down the renovation path instead of building new. Demolitions costs can be high; even as it was, significant work had to be done to blast out an old foundation for the pool pump house to make room for the addition.
The original house was perfect for reconfiguring in a way that put the kitchen in a new location.
“We love to cook together and we love to entertain. Now we are not looking out a little window to a hedge,” says Donna. “Entertaining is so much easier,” adds Marty, confirming the renovation had passed the test. “And we love that our kitchen is now orientated to the pool. Even in the winter we now feel close to the outdoors.”
The couple did eventually pick a paint colour. Gun metal grey cedar panelling with clear pine inserts and hardy panel accents.
“It’s given us quite a different look,” says Marty.
Living and Breathing the Renovation
The couple lived in the home while under renovation, tarping off the primary areas of construction and using the old kitchen while the new one was under construction. Hardly a joyful experience, but “in some ways it was beneficial because we could see things as they were proceeding and we could change things along the way,” says Donna.
A good example was when the plumber was working in the master en suite and he inquired why the showerstall had been framed in so tightly when there was room to make it larger. “if it were me, I would bring the framing out further to avoid the dead space now being created,” he told Donna.
“It was a great example of the value of listening to the trades as they worked,” said Donna. The next day they had the contractor make the small adjustment that resulted in a large walk-in stall with a spa-like rain showerhead.