June 18, 2013

A home with space for all

Island house incorporates a sewing room for mom and a place for dad to play his drums

Victoria Times Colonist

COWICHAN VALLEY — Glen and Debbie Naylor had a clear vision of the new home they wanted to create in the Cowichan Valley of Vancouver Island: Their goal was to move up in size and altitude. “We wanted to build a house that would feel like a vacation home,” said Debbie, whose new house at 5,400 square feet is almost twice as large as their previous one and much higher, set on a sunny slope overlooking Quamichan Lake.

The hardest part of manifesting their dream was trying to come in on budget, she said. “It’s pretty overwhelming making all the decisions. When you build a house, there is so much to plan for, to consider — every design detail from baseboards to lighting to kitchen cabinets and appliances.” Luckily, designer Wendy Wilson was “an enormous help.” One of the first choices they faced in the kitchen was whether to include a huge ceiling fan that Debbie had set her sights on, after scanning magazines for years and clipping out favourite images and ideas.

“I always wanted a big overhead fan, but when I talked about the open concept with Wendy, and the barrel roof we were planning, I realized the two just wouldn’t work. A large fan would be this massive structure in the middle of the room. It would have looked ridiculous, and taken away from the ceiling feature.” Another unforeseen choice involved windows over the sink. They decided it was important to have slightly curved windows, rather than rectangular ones, to emphasize the shape of the ceiling.

Because it’s a large room, their designer also suggested they increase the space between countertops and overhead cabinets. “Standard cabinets are 36 inches from the floor, and upper cabinets begin 17.5 inches above the counter top,” said Wilson. “But in this case, we pushed it to 20 inches. The owners had chosen a really beautiful backsplash tile and we wanted to see more of it. Also, the extra space allows for more interesting lights under the valance and room to get a large coffee maker in there more easily.”

The kitchen has a built-in desk for paperwork and a baking area, and Debbie opted for a food processor at one end of the island and a huge mixer at the other — both resting on heavy-duty appliance lifts for easy access. “I love to bake, make pies, scones, cookies. Lemon and poppyseed muffins are a family favourite.” She also chose different colours for the wall cabinets from those on the island, to help break up the large space: Dark cabinets have light quartz countertops and creamy ones are topped in dark quartz.

Chocolate brown sateen drapes with a bronze and silver circle pattern look traditional in the nearby dining area, and add a twinkle of bling, thanks to nickel rings encrusted with shiny crystals. Because the kitchen is large and has a high ceiling, Wilson advised her clients not to install traditional cabinets on all the walls. “When you go this high with a ceiling, why not take advantage of the height and create an interesting feature?” So she drew up plans for a large cabinet, which has become a focal point of the room, with display area above and gallery lighting set in the ceiling to showcase art vessels.

Glen, a financial adviser, says the kitchen is ideal for cooking and entertaining. “My younger brother is in a wheelchair, so this space is great for him, too — he can zoom all around,” he said, noting they created a spacious dining area at the end of the kitchen to take advantage of expansive views over Quamichan Lake, rolling farmland, Duncan and the distant Mount Prevost. The den is one of the owners’ favourite rooms, and was designed so a future homeowner could turn it into a dining room if desired. This is where the Naylors meet for conversation at the end of every day. “It’s our retreat, our reading room, and we have no television here,” said Debbie, a registered nurse.

“My husband and I always come in here to sit together and catch up at the end of the day, while the kids are off doing their own thing.” Glen went to school with builder Kevin Fraser — “who is really great to work with” — and designer Bruce Johnson was able to look at their scrapbook and interpret the owners’ ideas. “I gave my book to him and he managed to fit everything in,” said Debbie. Johnson said the owners showed him a house plan they liked and that was a perfect jumping off point: “We pushed and pulled and dragged the spaces around, basically stirred up the floor plan and made some bold changes. The owners ended up with a bonus room over the garage and a wonderful area downstairs too.

“The big barrel vault through the kitchen was a derivative of the original plan, and the master ensuite spa is absolutely decadent.” One of the things Glen really wanted was a place to play his drums, and Debbie’s dream was a sewing room, since her hobby is quilt making, but her main delight is the spa-like ensuite, which measures 14 by 16 feet. While they went with high-end counter tops in the kitchen, in the ensuite, they economized by using a high-gloss laminate. “We feel we have a fantastic home, but still had some fantastic savings.

“I absolutely love this room — it’s so serene,” said Debbie of the Wedgewood blue-and-white room. “It’s an awesome space,” said Glen, who turns up the music, turns down the lights and pours the bubble bath when his wife needs a break. “Debbie is a Pisces, so she’s a real water person — and she works really, really hard. “We love visiting spas when we go away on holiday, destination places like the Tigh-na-mara resort in Parksville, so this was something we really enjoy.”

Because the home is built on a slope, the owners have a level drive at the front entry and can walk out at grade from lower-level rooms. Their new garden is starting to grow up. They waited four years to create it and they give the credit to Apex Landscaping. “It was a very big job, a real challenge, because it included retaining walls, sprinkler system, plantings, fencing, stonework,” said Glen.

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