You know a house is special when the owners take care to sell it to a family who will appreciate it as much as they did — even if it means taking a lower price in a multiple-offer bidding war.
That’s exactly what Jannie and Bentson Jespersen, who are in their mid-80s, did when they sold the Deep Cove home they lived in for 30 years to Laura and Scott Hamilton, parents of Owen, 2, and eight-month-old Miles.
“We thought it was about time some young people moved into the neighbourhood, and they’re a very nice couple. We are very happy we sold it to them,” says Bentson, a retired boatbuilder who now lives with his wife in a Sidney condo.
Bentson says the one thing he misses about the house is its 575-square-foot workshop.
Bentson’s woodworking skills are evident throughout the 1985-built house, from the immaculate 7/8-inch-thick oak floors to the upstairs handrails, reminiscent of a luxury-ship railing, and the beautiful built-in hallway bookcase.
The Jespersens had five offers on their four-bedroom North Saanich house with ocean views, but took $5,000 less than the highest bidder to go with the Hamiltons.
The firefighter and stay-at-home mom had been living in an 800-square-foot condo in North Vancouver, but wanted to move to Vancouver Island so they could raise their boys closer to family. Laura’s parents live about a 10-minute walk from the house, and the young couple couldn’t help noticing it whenever they walked their dog in the neighborhood.
When they heard the house was going on the market, they dropped a letter on the Jespersens’ front porch introducing themselves and letting the couple know they were keen to buy it.
“[The Jespersens] showed the letter to their neighbours and asked them if we were the kind of neighbours they would want,” says Laura. “It’s such a tight-knit community. Everyone is so lovely.”
Scott says learning they had great neighbours was a huge bonus after they moved into the house in August 2019. That summer, the neighbours threw a joint going-away party for the Jespersens and welcome-to-the-neighbourhood party for the Hamiltons.
“If I knew how great the neighbors were, I would have done whatever it took to get over here sooner,” he says.
Deep Cove attracted international attention when Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and their son, Archie, moved to the area for six weeks last year, after giving up their royal roles.
Although Harry and Meghan have since moved to Los Angeles, the Hamiltons plan to stick around. They say they can’t see living anywhere else, and have been pleasantly surprised by the number of other young families in Deep Cove.
“We didn’t know how it was going to be for kids, but it’s packed with young families. Every day, there’s playdates,” says Scott, adding the area is ideal for kids to explore the outdoors.
Public beaches are just a short walk away and there are forest trails galore connecting residential neighbourhoods through easements.
Although the house was in move-in-ready condition, the Hamiltons opted to put their own touch on it, making mostly cosmetic changes to the open concept living/dining room, such as whitewashing the timber beams, painting out the wood trim around the windows and the interior shutters, removing the textured ceiling for a flat one and adding pot lights.
Scott updated the kitchen with new Shaker-style cabinets, a white, subway-tile backsplash and white countertops. A talented woodworker, Scott made the front hallway wood-top console table from recycled wood and welded its steel base.
Another major change he made during the three-month renovation of the 2,400-square-foot house was updating the downstairs suite, which was gutted to increase the height and make it more livable.
A white barn door connects the suite’s bedroom to the living area, and the modern kitchen and bathroom both have clean white cabinetry. The suite has also been decorated by Laura with nautical details, including two whitewashed paddles hanging over the couch.
“This house is near the ocean, so I tried to have it feel a little beachy, but with a cosy Scandinavian-vibe,” she says.
That vibe is evident immediately upon entering the house, with a simple wooden bench with wicker baskets for shoes underneath and hats on hooks above. On a side cabinet, Laura has a vase of hydrangeas from the garden sitting beside a family heirloom — an old baker’s scale once used by her grandfather.
The hallway bookcase has been styled with family photos, plants and books. On the lower level, wicker baskets are filled with some of the children’s toys.
Laura has kept furnishings simple and cosy in the living room, allowing the ocean view from the front window to take centre stage. The only art in the room is a three-dimensional map made by Scott, and, behind the dining table, a wall of family photos in simple white frames.
The living room’s wooden coffee table came from Laura’s parents, and has seen some wear and tear over the years.
“The kids have even chewed on it, but it gives it character,” Laura says with a laugh.
Outside, Scott and his friends helped make the corner lot more kid friendly by building a fence. Jannie Jespersen was an avid gardener and the yard has two apple trees, a pear and a plum tree and a magnolia tree, to name just a few of the plantings.
Scott came up with the idea of creating a sandbox under two old evergreen trees, where plants wouldn’t fare well. It has become Owen’s favourite place to play outside.
Owen’s other favourite place to be is inside on the window seat Scott built in the master bedroom, where he likes to sit and wave at the neighbours who pass by.
“This is such a good place to raise a family. Why would anyone want to leave?” Scott says.
“We hit jackpot with the neighbourhood.”