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House Beautiful: High and low in the West Shore

A believer in “function over form,” designer Sandra Lyle-Mason mixes expensive furnishings with pieces found on Marketplace and at Ikea to create a home that works for her family of five.

When Victoria interior designer Sandra Lyle-Mason and her husband moved to Victoria six years ago, they wanted a house that would work for their family of five.

They found the perfect lot, with an ocean view in the Metchosin/Colwood area, and tweaked the builder’s plans to customize the modern, three-storey house to make it a space where their kids, now 20, 17, and 15 would want to hang out.

As a believer in “function over form,” the designer wanted to give the kids a separate space downstairs to invite their friends, and installed not only a large television but a screen projector. That room leads to an inviting entertainment space outside, with a basketball court and a pool.

“We wanted a house the kids could be teenagers in and where their friends could hang out and feel welcome. It worked out really well,” says Lyle-Mason.

The entry to the four-bedroom, four-bathroom home is on the main level, which has the open concept living/dining/kitchen as well as a mudroom, powder room, gym and Lyle-Mason’s office. Upstairs is the private area of the home, where the bedrooms are located, and downstairs is the “fun” area of the home, designed for entertaining friends.

Thanks to a sloped lot the 2,900 sq. ft. house enjoys a hilltop view that looks out, in part, to a forested area that will never be developed. They are so high up, there’s no need for window coverings in some of the rooms, like the dining room and the kid’s bathroom.

When it came to doing the interior design for her own family’s home, Lyle-Mason started with a design concept she describes as “bright, West Coast modern.” She made all her design choices around that theme to give the house a cohesive look.

She chose a monochromatic, warm white throughout most of the space, (Benjamin Moore’s White Dove OC-17) and added pops of colours in the furnishings and accessories. For instance, the Tolix bar stools are all different colours. The walnut, dining table is surrounded by white Eiffel Eames chairs but the two end chairs, from Knoll, are covered in dark blue fabric.

The main-floor powder room has the most colour in the house, with a colourful, oversize botanical print wallpaper on the main wall, giving the space a light-hearted, tropical vibe, along with attractive gold globe pendants.

“I did it during COVID when I was missing travelling. There’s green, pink and gold in the print,” says Lyle-Mason, hinting she ended up liking it so much she’s thinking about bringing in more colour in other places in the house.

She’s now toying with the idea of a pistachio coloured fridge, noting there are panels that you can buy that totally changes the look of an appliance.

At the moment, the kitchen is timeless with walnut lower cabinets and just a few white uppers above the fridge and beside the stove to provide storage. There’s also thick wood shelves on each side of the kitchen window.

Both kitchen walls have white, textured tile that runs from the countertop to the ceiling adding to the kitchen’s elegant design statement. Other standouts in the kitchen include the two, large Stan Dixon white, pendant lights over the kitchen island and the island itself. It has a white quartz, with slight veining, counter top. One end of the counter is a waterfall edge and the other end has a kick to make it easier for family members to stand there while doing food prep. Another smart kitchen design trick was having a flat bottom sink so it’s easier to fill pots.

Lyle-Mason chose brushed brass bar pulls for the kitchen cabinets, and the two pull down faucets — the kitchen island also has a sink — are also brushed brass from the Delta Trinsic series.

Brushed brass fixtures are also used in the primary bedroom ensuite, which features a stand-alone tub and a shower, with marble-like porcelain tiles, and two round sinks in the floating vanity. Luminescent mother-of-pearl tile was used behind the vanity to give the room sparkle.

The circular motif is also repeated in the kid’s bathroom, which has a circular sink and round pendant lights and in a main floor hallway, where a large, round mirror is placed over a raw edge wood bench.

Another wooden bench, in the front hall entrance, sets the mood for what’s to come in the house. It was a find, from Facebook Marketplace, when Lyle-Mason saw someone advertising the block of fir that was felled from their property up-Island.

Lyle-Mason believes in mixing it up with high and low furnishings.

In the living room, for instance, she has a glass, coffee table she bought 12 years ago for $200 that still works well.

“I think it’s going to break with every move, but it keeps on ticking,” she says.

She also found a stump on the beach and made it into a side-table with casters on it for easy moving.

“There are designer items in the house, but there’s also lots of Ikea items, too. I swear by mixing high and low.”

One of her more expensive pieces is the antique, hand-knotted Persian rug in the entryway and a stone-top tulip table on a covered, outdoor patio.

“These are special pieces, but I also like a Winner’s find,” she adds.

The area carpet in the living room is one such item and is 100 per cent wool.

The two couches are from EQ3 and while both from the same series are covered in different materials to add interest. One is a three-seater, linen couch and the other is a two-seater leather couch.

The main feature in the living room is the gas fireplace with a venetian plaster-like wall that is actually a clay paint.

Lyle-Mason started as a decorator in 2006 but became an interior designer in 2017, working in both commercial and residential and has her own company called Lyle Mason Interior Design.

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