Image: Janis Nicolay
Sure, renovations are rife with pressure and problems – but the results are often nothing short of dazzling, and this Vancouver gem is a case in point.
Given Vancouver’s red-hot real estate market, even the most rundown houses don’t languish for long. But this townhouse in the über-popular Kitsilano neighbourhood sat on the market for a relative eternity: 30 whole days. Its 1980s features – namely the kitchen’s beige laminate cabinets and linoleum flooring – needed major updating, and it required huge imaginative leaps to see past the dated rooms.
Luckily, interior designer Melanie Finkleman and her husband, Ben (the project manager of their business, Hazel + Brown Design Company), are visionaries who relish that sort of challenge. They saw the roughly 1,550-square-foot townhome’s merits and decided to renovate and resell it.
“Its location is great – who wouldn’t want to live close to the beach and be surrounded by lots of mature trees?” says Melanie. “Plus, we actually liked the fact that it was original and untouched – we knew it would make for a striking before and after.” So the couple made the purchase and set to work transforming the dark and dated space into something bright and modern to turn their savvy investment into a sweet return.
Up first was unifying the seemingly disparate spaces throughout the main floor with an envelope of crisp white paint and warm engineered white oak flooring. Next, the living room was nudged into this century with contemporary furnishings, built-in storage and fresh pink accents that can be easily traded out should the next owners want to steer clear of the shade. An awkward corner fireplace was straightened out to accommodate a more functional sitting area, and the cathedral ceiling was clad in whitewashed hemlock boards to add texture and interest.
The original ’80s laminate kitchen was also completely overhauled. New custom cabinetry, marble subway wall tiles, professional-grade appliances and quartz countertops now offer improved functionality. That means more counter space, more seating room and more storage, and a light contemporary look that anyone can make their own with a few personalized accessories.
Upstairs, the master bathroom received a similarly extensive overhaul. Most notably, Melanie and Ben rejigged the plumbing to amp up the size of the shower and added a hand-held shower head and body jets. Though the master bedroom’s update was largely cosmetic – save for the addition of a walk-in closet – it’s still a far cry from its drab former self.
All in all, this huge project required patience, determination and innovation. But once complete and back on the market, the house was quickly snatched up by an eager new buyer.
In the airy and bright living room of this revamped Vancouver home, a new white built-in with a poured concrete top boasts a cool contemporary feel that’s balanced by the oak above it. From these shelves to the flooring to the stool bases in the adjacent kitchen, wood is a warming finish that establishes continuity throughout the clean-lined house.
A hopelessly dated stained glass window above the large living room window was replaced with a clear glass panel. The ceiling reaches 14 feet at its peak, so interior designer Melanie Finkleman took advantage of the space to add some modern-industrial eye candy: a simple black exposed chimney pipe and a geometric light fixture.
The built-ins boast an eclectic display of collectibles; on the top shelf, a “beach” sign references nearby Kitsilano Beach.
The formerly closed-in kitchen is now open to the rest of the main floor. Custom pale grey Shaker-style cabinetry, a honed marble subway tile wall treatment and crisp white quartz countertops are modern choices that won’t date quickly. Woven pendant lights echo the home’s casual beachy vibe, while black stool seats and hardware punctuate the space (as do the hits of black throughout the rest of the house).
A simple wooden stool is paired with a graphic print featuring a comforting message in the master bedroom.
Marble-look porcelain tiles (a total steal compared to the price of the real deal) continue from the floor right up the wall at one end of the master bathroom and into the glass shower enclosure, giving the space a luxe seamless look.
The serene master bedroom received a new floor and an all-white treatment to bring it up to speed with the rest of the home. A pale grey upholstered headboard relates to the grey accents elsewhere in the house, while the play of pattern in the lumbar cushions adds interest.