House Beautiful: A townhouse transformation in Cordova Bay

Home renovations can take innumerable forms, ranging from attic overhauls to basement revamps and everything in between, but few changes are as dramatic and satisfying as a kitchen makeover.

Shannon and Peter Baillie lived in their attractive Cordova Bay townhouse for five years before coming up with a plan to improve it and give their kitchen a new look.

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The house has the same footprint as before the renovation, but the owners gave the kitchen a complete facelift and upgraded the bathrooms, fireplaces and flooring.

The home seems bigger and brighter, thanks to new paint throughout and an engineered hardwood called Oak Chateau from Island Floor Centre.

The 7.5-inch boards flow throughout the main and upper levels in a soothing, beach-grey tone with matte finish.

Transformed by the Jenny Martin Design team, the Baillies’ new kitchen is a showstopper and illustrates how satisfying a new look can be, even though no walls were removed and only one appliance was relocated a few feet.

The 3,000-square-foot townhouse was built by Jawl Developments in 2003 and has three bedrooms and three bathrooms on three levels.

New cabinets were built and installed by Jason Good Custom Cabinets.

Not all of the changes were substantial or costly.

One of Shannon’s favourite improvements is a deep closet in the kitchen that used to be one inefficient open space that soon turned into a jumble.

Custom shelving has transformed it into a place of organized beauty.

“It was non functional before and because it had a bi-fold door, we couldn’t easily access half of it. Our builder, Josh Zabder [of Velocity Contracting], put on a new door and the new shelves are wonderful.

“It’s amazing how little things can give such joy.”

She pointed to other details, including a shallow cupboard with multiple shelves in the quartz-topped kitchen island, numerous custom cutlery drawers and other areas for specific things like knives, cutting boards, trays and more.

When Jenny Martin first saw the kitchen, she immediately suggested that the owners move a fridge that stood on a long wall between windows over the sink and French doors.

She said the change would open up the kitchen, add more light and create a feature wall upon which to hang a large and vivid Kathryn Amisson landscape.

“I was born on the Prairies so I love this scene … it is very special to me,” said Shannon, who founded the Eye Appeal Art event in 1997 and retired after its last event in 2017. (See sidebar)

During her time spear-heading the event she and Peter, who is advertising director at the Times Colonist, collected numerous pieces of original art including works by Laura Harris, Grant Leier, Nixie Barton and Kathryn Amisson,

Shannon not only hung the Amisson painting in the kitchen, but also used its daffodil yellow hues as inspiration for its new décor. Sunshine-splashed accessories include casseroles, bowls of lemons, flowers and more.

“The kitchen has a brighter, fresher, lighter look now,” noted Martin, who said moving the large fridge to another wall removed its visual mass and allowed light to flow.

The appliance is now camouflaged in a newly designed, full pantry wall at the end of the kitchen. This wall includes a built-in coffee centre, appliance garage and floor-to-ceiling storage with large drawers at the bottom for easy access.

“It’s nice to have a dedicated area for small appliances, so everything has a place,” said Martin, adding polished nickel drawer pulls add warmth, and complement the antique white cabinets and quartz countertop that has a slight marble effect.

Centura Masai series subway tiles climb to the ceiling and give the room a bistro vibe, thanks to the contrasting grey grout and a slight crackling finish.

The grey grout and handmade feel to the finish give the tiles wall an old-world look rather than an institutional one, Martin said.

See-through pendant lights from McLaren Lighting, hanging over the island, add sparkle. “They are like the jewellery of a kitchen.”

Art is very important to Shannon, so Martin wanted to highlight the Amisson work, make it front and centre in the kitchen. She didn’t need to move any walls to do this and moved the fridge instead.

“We also modernized the kitchen by taking cabinets to the ceiling and minimized mechanical changes by leaving the range in its original location.

“The floors have a light, sandy tone because we live on an Island and want a touch of coastal flair, and the light walls and cabinets create a neutral backdrop for bright hits of colour.” Martin said it’s fun to alter a kitchen’s ambiance by using pops of colour in flowers, tea towels or bowls of fruits.

“This is also a way to bring in trends and keep it looking current.”

Glass cabinet doors on the range wall help balance the room, create symmetry, lighten the space and bring in reflection and texture, concluded the designer.

The owners, who used to live in the Keating area, love their Cordova ridge location, as they we can walk down to the beach, the Beach House Restaurant or Mattick’s Farm and there is a trail nearby and a park.

“Although it’s only a few minutes closer to town, it seems like a huge difference in driving time …and no traffic noise,” said Shannon.

She noted there was some “scope creep” on the project that added time and dollars, but it was their choice and included things such as re-doing the floor upstairs as well as on the main level, renovating the powder room, adding a fireplace to the master bedroom, replacing the mantle and fireplace surround in the living room and switching door hinges and handles to polished nickel.

“It added some expense and a few additional weeks but we are glad we did it while we were in the process of renovating as it really adds to the overall continuity.

“And while there are glitches in any project we were extremely impressed by how responsive Josh was, how committed to making sure we were satisfied with the result.”


The CNIB’s annual Eye Appeal fundraiser is being held May 3. Over the last two decades the event has raised more than $1.7 million to support thousands of Island residents who are partially sighted or blind.

This year’s event is being chaired by Jeffrey Jakobsen and held at the Crystal Gardens. Scores of artists are donating works and every $500 ticket for two includes a champagne reception, tapas dinner, a piece of original art and more.

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