When interior designer Donna Morrison had her hair cut in the home salon of Richard Pomerleau and his partner Richard Krulick, she got more than a chic new coiffure. She saw one of the most stylish home designs of her career.
“I am a designer myself, with close to 30 years in the industry, and I’ve seen my share of fabulous houses, and done lots of custom and high-end show homes, mostly in Edmonton, but I have never seen a house like this,” said Morrison.
“What’s most amazing is that Richard and Richard did it all themselves. They designed their house inside and out, did all the stonework, made the curtains, upholstered the furniture and a wall, yes a whole wall, did all the landscaping and even built an outdoor fountain.
“I was gob-smacked. I came home feeling like a slug,” joked the expert at Design District Studio, who has lived here for four years.
Later, she was asked to their home for Christmas dinner. Knowing the two Richards had just been to Paris, she found a little Eiffel Tower cookie cutter and made some cute shortbread in honour of their trip.
“I thought they were great until I saw the 14 different kinds of expertly done cookies they had made, all decorated in turquoise and silver to match the décor of their house. My little Eiffel towers looked a little sad,” she said with a grin.
As with those famous cookies, what makes this house extraordinary is the attention to detail that the two Richards have lavished on their project — Krulick is also a talented painter, who has created many of the home’s artworks.
Both owners had a grand vision when they conceived this home, and as you gaze around the house there is nothing you could think of adding, nowhere they have skimped. It’s a polished example of a modern new home with old-world character “because both of us really like the European look rather than West Coast, and we love mouldings,” said Krulick.
To really grasp the extent of their design scope, one must apparently visit over and over, because the décor changes with the seasons. “Last summer we used a lot of orange, and this summer we’re thinking it will be chartreuse green.”
The home is untouched by any interior designer or architect, although they did hire a draftsman to execute the plans, and at its heart is a kitchen that would make Martha Stewart drool. It has a long, gleaming island, two focal-point mantels — one over the range and another above the farm-style sink — and a skilful scattering of objets d’art.
The owners didn’t want lots of upper cupboards and decided instead to have a walk-in pantry. A coffee and martini bar, as well as the generous butler’s pantry, are located down a short hall off the kitchen. It ends in a small, sunny, upholstered window seat created by Pomerleau, whose mother taught him how to do upholstery.
On either side of the cooktop are narrow windows and a glass-fronted cabinets, which frame a pair of Grecian-style urns.
“We like the sculptural look, which is a bit out of character for a kitchen,” said Pomerleau.
A huge island is the favoured spot for dinner parties, and on the third side of the kitchen is an accordion wall of folding windows that slide away on warm days to reveal an adjacent terrace complete with fireplace, gas ceiling heaters and television. Candles, furniture from Restoration Hardware and trimmed topiary shrubs complete the look.
“It’s a great kitchen to work in and we love having people over for Iron Chef parties and cook-offs,” said Krulick, who noted they had 16 people at a recent party. The eight-course meal involved each couple making a course.
Washing up is no problem, thanks to the large farm-style sink over which hovers an industrial style rig with a slightly frightening tap that resembles a dentist’s drill, on a large retractable pulley.
“We wanted an open-concept kitchen, so it would feel like part of the dining room,” explained Pomerleau. They actually built the house around their dining table, which easily seats 14. “We saw it in a restaurant that was having a sale, and decided to buy the table and build the house later,” said Krulick, who added the house took two years to build.
Instead of having a sideboard in the dining room, the two opted for a striking alternative — a full wall of storage. “All the stuff we need for a party is right here,” including pullouts to put hot serving dishes on, they said, opening doors to reveal lots of shelves and drawers.
“Richard has a linen fetish,” said Krulick with a chuckle, pointing to drawers full of cloths, including a prized one from France, all individually tagged.
The living room is elegant and attractive, and the last thing you’d expect to find here would be a huge television. But — lo and behold! — behind a wall of dark velvet curtains (made by Pomerleau) is a huge viewing screen. No cave-like media room with rows of recliners and cup holders for these homeowners. Instead, they have a dual-purpose drawing and viewing room, with the projector camouflaged on the other side of the ceiling, and discs stored in hidden drawers under the coffee table.
“We spent a year doing the floor plan, a year and half designing the house,” said Krulick, who explained the two met in Toronto and moved here in 1994. Pomerleau has been a hairdresser for 30 years and Krulick worked as a letter carrier in Toronto for 20 years, and 10 here.
Their biggest shock when building the house was learning how much it would cost to blast a building site on their rocky part of Cordova Ridge. But they have since been revelling in creating a garden.
“Richard did most of the legwork on the house, and I love to landscape and work with stone,” said Krulick. “Stonework is like doing a puzzle and, if you are patient enough, it’s easy.”
One of the reasons they came to Victoria in the first place was to enjoy some serious garden time. “A friend back east said to us one day, if you love to garden, you’re in the wrong part of Canada.”
Friends have dubbed their home the Boxwood Manor because of all its formal French details and beautifully clipped boxwoods.
“It’s all about texture, like working with hair,” joked Pomerleau, who went through “thousands” of magazines to collect ideas and details for everything from windows and doors to kitchen décor.
“Richard is so meticulous and spent months choosing all the colours,” said Krulick. “He narrowed down all the decisions and would come to me when he got down to the last three choices. We are so happy with the result — it was worth the long time that went into it.”
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