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House Beautiful: Brentwood Bay dream house

Homeowners wanted to simplify their lives with a modern, open-concept design

The dream of living in a modern house with an ocean view came true for one retired couple, who worked closely with the builder to make their home exactly as they wanted in a quiet, Brentwood Bay enclave.

White Wolf Homes, a custom home builder in Victoria, had purchased a large, corner lot, which already had zoning approval for two houses to be built on the property.

The lot had an old cottage with an overgrown garden on it but because the cottage interior was so dark it put off other potential buyers, including the son of the eventual homeowners.

“My son had looked at this property three years ago, when they were looking at buying, but he thought it was too dark,” says the homeowner, who asked not to be named.

The day the couple was making the final decision on whether to buy another house nearby they returned to the lot for a second look. After walking the property, they could see how they could have the light-filled modern home they had dreamed about for 10 years, once many of the trees on the lot were removed.

And they still get to enjoy a forested area adjacent to the house.

“This area is so underrated for what it actually is,” says White Wolf Homes owner Kyle Velikovsky. “To me, it’s the Beach Drive of Brentwood Bay. It’s a main dog route to the ocean and quieter than other main residential streets of Brentwood Bay. It’s a special location.”

Velikovsky sold the front lot to the couple, who hired his company to design and build their dream home, with plenty of large windows to optimize the ocean views.

“Our vision for the property was to have both houses facing the ocean, says Velikovsky, which would have required him to build two long, narrow houses on the site.

However, the city didn’t approve of that first plan but did allow the current configuration, whereby a second house was built behind this home and its driveway facing the side road.

The change in house locations on the site meant the interior house design plans needed to be redone to ensure the couple would have privacy.

For instance, initially their kitchen would have been at the back of the house, with windows looking out to the house behind them. But the kitchen and dining room were swapped and three transom windows were used on the back wall.

This suited the homeowners because she always wanted her kitchen to be at the front of the house, to take advantage of the ocean view at the front.

The dining room still gets enough light thanks to the transom windows, large picture windows at the side of the house and four sky lights in the open concept space. A fifth skylight is over the staircase.

“I had a very specific idea of what I wanted,” says the homeowner, referring to the design plans that were drawn up by White Wolfe Homes, with her help.

She says she urged the designer to go as big as possible when it came to the windows.

Velikovsky notes they were easy clients to work with and knowledgeable about the building process.

“They had built their family home before, so having gone through the process, they understood it. They also knew exactly what they wanted,” says Velikovsky.

The couple’s former house, in Willis Point, was the opposite of their new modern home.

Although a new build, the traditional-style house — where they raised their two sons — was designed to resemble a home from 1910, with an interior consisting of many closed off rooms and a separate living and dining space.

For this home, they wanted open concept and an uncluttered look.

“I wanted a modern house with a flat roof. I just wanted simplicity — clean, simple lines,” says the homeowner.

“The idea was to simplify our lives and with less rooms there would be less to clean.”

After putting their 3,500 sq. ft., four-bedroom house on the market, which sold within six days, they moved into a condo rental for 10 months in 2022 while their new house was being built.

The 2,750 sq. ft house was completed in July 2022 and has three bedrooms — the primary bedroom upstairs and two bedrooms downstairs, one of which is used as an office.

The benefit of this configuration is that if the homeowner’s mother ever wants to move in with them she could have her own separate space downstairs, which includes a second smaller living room.

The house has a lot of flexibility in its layout which would allow for changes in the future if required.

The laundry room, unlike most homes, is located in the couple’s primary bedroom ensuite but it could be relocated to the downstairs walk-in closet off their main entryway.

Velikovsky says while the laundry room makes sense for the couple, who are empty-nesters, it might not work for another family should they ever opt to sell in the future.

“[The couple] spent a lot of time thinking of how to best customize their house. Their laundry room is located inside their master suite but for a family it might not work to have teenagers going inside their parents’ suite to do the laundry,” he says.

And while many families with children appreciate a mudroom and entering from a side door, the couple wanted to make their front door one they used daily.

The door is a focal point of the house exterior, and was from Karmanah Wood Design.

“I love it. We will walk up to the front door and just think wow. It’s our home,” she says.

“I can’t believe it sometimes. When we first moved in I felt like I was living in a hotel.”

A large walk-in closet close to the entryway provides plenty of room to store coats and shoes and sporting equipment.

Another smart design choice the homeowners made was relocating the wine room from the first floor to just off the kitchen. It eliminated trips up and down the staircase to fetch wine when entertaining family and friends upstairs.

Wanting a low maintenance home, the couple opted to have no lawn, but a series of pathways surrounding the perimeter.

The hard and soft landscaping design was by Duane Ending of Landscape Solutions.

Their main outdoor entertainment area is a rooftop deck, which has a hot tub and a barbecue and outdoor furniture.

“We spent all of our time outside last summer enjoying the view,” says the homeowner.

Her suggestions for others considering having their own dream homes custom built?

“Spend a lot of time in the planning stage,” she says.

“I would draw a rough floor plan and walk through the house thinking how would I live in the space. Have your vision and decide what you need there and where are you going to go.”

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