House Beautiful: A dramatic rancher renovation

It’s amazing how efficiently a 30-year-old home can be transformed from dowdy to dramatic in just six months — all it took was a super-keen designer, a group of “brilliant” tradesmen and a young professional couple willing to guide the process.

The combination of talent turned a Broadmead West Coast rancher that lacked personality and charm into an elegant and contemporary family home.

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While the floor plan remained almost unchanged, interior alterations encompassed virtually everything except a chandelier in the dining room, said one of the owners with a chuckle.

The couple (who asked not to be identified) is delighted with the makeover, as their home is now perfect for the growing family.

GT Mann Contracting was pleased, too, and is submitting the project for a CARE award this year, in the category of renovations over $300,000.

“When we started looking for a house, we were not planning on doing a reno,” said the wife. “But when we came here, we saw its potential right away.”

The project included rewiring and adding wide-plank engineered oak floors, all new windows, cabinets, trim, wainscoting and millwork, new kitchen and bathrooms, a media room and playroom downstairs, the removal of several doors, widening of an upstairs hallway and many new built-ins.

In addition, a spare bedroom was turned into a dressing room for the master suite, the laundry room was completely redesigned and there is even a patch of faux grass on top of a flat rock outcrop, so the owners never have to mow. They can just blow it clean.

The 1983 Broadmead home now has a timeless look and a strong presence that blends contemporary aesthetics with traditional elements.

“It’s a home that won’t date,” said the husband, adding it is conveniently close to town, ferry, airport and university, so they plan to stay there a long time.

They previously owned a condo in the sky, and the wife said this home feels like a condo in the country — because it hangs over a ravine.

The property drops off steeply at the back and the lower floor (invisible from the road) is supported by pillars more than three metres tall. Walking into the home at ground level, the views are staggering: It’s like being in a treehouse, or stepping onto the set of Avatar.

Clearly, this 3,900-square-foot home needs no curtains or blinds, as the only creatures looking in are birds or squirrels.

“The view is really the whole show, so we wanted to play up the windows,” said interior designer Kimberly Lewis-Manning, noting they replaced all the windows and removed all the dated brown-metal edging.

“They are exactly the same size, but we added lots of architectural trim and replaced all the sliding glass doors, too, with French doors.” The mullioned windows enhance the new Cape Cod-style exterior, along with the Benjamin Moore paint in a shade called Piedmont Grey.

“For a 1980s house, it had a surprisingly open floor plan, and once we gutted the ’80s out of it, embellished the windows, added new crown moulding, baseboards and panelling, it had a lot of style,” said Lewis-Manning.

South Shore Cabinets created the new kitchen using much the same layout as before, except for a reconfigured island that now has room for stools. The company’s interior designer, Robyn Sandsmark, included special touches, such as a glass cabinet over the wine fridge, something the wife had spotted in a magazine.

The couple lived downstairs for three months while the upper level was renovated, and then reversed the process.

“It wasn’t too bad,” said the wife. “We’d never renovated before, so didn’t know what to expect.”

She is especially delighted with the new laundry room, which she wanted to be more attractive and efficient. “You really start to notice things like that when coming in with bags of groceries and a baby on your hip.”

The room, which leads to the garage, now has a marble floor, a bench for pulling on boots or leaving packages, hooks for coats, lots of multi-level storage on either side and a hanging rack over the washer and dryer.

The designer explained: “These two owners are elegant, sophisticated and didn’t want a lot of maintenance, so although the finishes look high-end, they are easy care.

“They also wanted a home they could live in for many years to come, nothing too trendy or stylized. It’s a big house, but the wife didn’t want to be a slave to it.” She wanted a place for everything, from large toys to small coffee cups.

“I wanted everything to be purposeful and to look very intentional,” said the wife.

Her husband was keen on a media room and was inspired by a picture of a grand-looking bar, which he had custom built by South Shore Cabinetry.

“We simply could not have had a better team,” he said. “They did the kitchen, laundry, ensuite, and media-room bar and added their unparalleled design, construction and detail elements to the project.”

On the same lower floor, the interior designer divided a large bathroom into two, creating one for the media room and general use, and another in an ensuite off the daughter’s room.

Their toddler’s bedroom is on the lower floor, about as far from the upper-floor parents’ suite as it could be, but they aren’t worried about the distance.

“The confidence this couple exudes is actually contagious,” said the designer. “They are positive in their approach to everything and were very sure of all the steps they took with technology, including a camera in the toddler’s room.”

The home features other state-of-the-art elements, thanks to Wired Up Technologies Inc., including angled ceiling speakers to maintain the clean-wall design in the media room.

Because of the home’s length and distance to the hot-water tank, Specialized Plumbing & Gas Works installed motion sensors in multiple locations (kitchen, bathrooms and bar) to activate a hot-water recirculation pump in the mechanical room.

“The sensors have adjustable timers, so the pump only runs for a few minutes at a time rather than all day. The result is instantaneous hot water, eliminating the 40-50 second wait time and saving on water consumption,” said the husband.

A high-efficiency heat pump was supplied and installed by Red Blue Heating & Refrigeration and Go!Control provided the security system with remote monitoring and smartphone control for arming, disarming and more.

“We have what we have today because Kimberley was fantastic and every single trade came through,” said the husband. “The GT Mann team took immense pride in their work and were professional, thoughtful, friendly and precise.”

Lewis-Manning added: “This project was a success because the young couple were so approachable and knew know how to manage people, to value everybody’s skill and put confidence in the team.”

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