Staircase and ocean view from great room. (Don Denton photograph)

Staircase and ocean view from great room. (Don Denton photograph)

European Elegance in Cordova Bay Home

Dream house offers ocean views

  • Aug. 29, 2018 5:35 p.m.

Quick facts:

House: 7,000 square feet

Decks: 3,000 square feet

Floors: 3

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 5

Gas fireplaces: 4

Build time: 1 year

Garage: 2-car

Outdoor kitchens: 2

Wine room: 1

2 acres of land

Plus a 1-bedroom suite on lower floor with a separate entrance

—————————————————————————————————————

Stepping into this home, my eyes were immediately drawn to the view beyond the welcoming great room, the stunning windows and the expansive deck. It’s no wonder the owner fell in love with this property when he first saw it in 2016.

As Dan Schuetze, CEO, and Mike Edwardson, General Manager, of Villamar Construction introduced themselves, I had a vague sense of smiling and shaking their hands. But my entire focus was on the visual smorgasbord before me.

The cream-coloured curved walls, the curved staircase, the antique chandelier, the warm wood, the hand-carved marble fireplace and the windows all reminded me of a bygone era. And yet, here they sat in all their splendour in a brand new build.

Beyond the windows, the sight of the Pacific Ocean and the San Juan Islands beckoned to me, and I drank in the view a little while longer.

Meeting the owners, I could see they were obviously pleased with their new home. It was just what they’d asked for — not an easy task considering they spent half of the build time out of country.

“There was a language barrier and a lot of emailing back and forth,” said Dan. “We’d send them video clips as the build progressed. This was actually a reno from a 1960s, 3,500-square-foot home into this three-storey, 7,000-square-foot home.”

He added, “We designed it so that as you walk farther into the house, the spaces get higher and larger. The original house had eight-foot ceilings, and that height was kept in the foyer and dining area. In the newer area, we created the hallways with nine-foot ceilings and the kitchen is 10 feet high. The great room has a 12-foot celling — 11-foot if you include the depth of the coffer.”

“The biggest challenge was that the original house was built at a height that is currently not allowed,” explained Mike. “We had to get a height variance. Then we took the original house down to the studs and concrete, and built up and out from there. We had RJC [structural engineers] assist us with the original design. The addition is 4,000 square feet and built like a tank. It was designed and built in such a way that the addition will hold up the existing house in case of an earthquake.”

“The original house had settled and we had to level it out and make everything right,” explained Dan. “Seventy per cent of the exterior is granite clad — tons and tons of granite. We made the entire exterior of the house like a sheer wall, it’s all built beyond seismic standards to support the stone. Every four feet up there are steel, reinforced cross-members to hold up the stone.”

The house is also protected with aluminum-clad windows that mitigate any saltwater spray damage.

“The three decks were built with quarry-sourced, brushed granite, which easily holds up in all kinds of weather,” explained Mike. “And the roof is a DaVinci roof made with synthetic shake that inhibits moss.”

While the house is built to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at it, the interior reflects the owners’ love of antiques and traditional styles.

All three floors feature engineered, long grain, custom white oak, except for the master bedroom, which is carpeted. Eight-inch-high baseboards run throughout the house, giving it an elegant European feel.

“Even the garage has these baseboards,” said Mike. “And there’s crown molding throughout the entire home, except in the great room, which has one-foot coffered ceilings. We added LED back lights to the crown molding on the main and lower floor. It gives the rooms a warm glow in the evening.”

The windows help pull it all together.

“All the windows are a German passive home series by Moser, triple-paned, aluminum-clad wood. Most of them are tilt and turn. This gives this new home a more traditional feel, which is in keeping with the homeowners’ love of antiques,” said Dan.

To complete the European feel, the owners had all the doors in the house custom made. Every door has specialty European-style hardware, including multi-point locking systems.

The lower floor was built for fun. The stairs descend into a games room with a fireplace and a 1,300-square-foot deck with an outdoor kitchen. The view from here is just as impressive as upstairs. To the right is the mechanical room and wine cellar. Just past that sits a one-bedroom suite, complete with fireplace, ocean view and its own entrance. To the left of the stairs is the soundproof theatre room.

We headed back up the stairs to the main floor, which has a dining room off the left of the main entrance as well as a kitchen, with great ocean views, and a deck, complete with a walk-through butler’s pantry. To the right are the guest bathroom, master bedroom, office (complete with library and French doors to the deck) and garden room.

View of the kitchen area. (Don Denton photography)

“The garden room was specifically made for year-round use,” said Mike. “With its marble floor, six-foot windows and three skylights, it’s a great spot to start plants in the spring and have an indoor garden in the cooler months.”

Great care was taken in selecting antiques for this home. For example, the main floor guest bathroom has a six-foot-long, hand-carved oak vanity with a marble top and copper fixtures. The tiling on the bathroom floor is a custom-made marble design. Then there are the chandeliers.

“There are nine chandeliers,” said Mike, “all from different places. Some were salvaged out of an old Victorian home and some came from the owners’ old home. We had to recondition them all and retrofit them to meet current code standards.”

The antique fireplace mantel was one of their greatest finds, and one of the trickier pieces to fit into the build.

“It took four people to lift one of the five pieces of the fireplace,” said Dan. “It’s all hand-carved marble — over 1,000 pounds.”

We turn our attention back to the staircase, its curve mimicking the wall adjacent to it, and pause to appreciate its architectural triumph and the nostalgia it evokes.

“The curves of the staircase and the walls were the most difficult thing to build,” said Mike. “You can see the amount of craftsmanship that went into them to make them work. It gives the room great aesthetic value and great flow.”

I found it hard to resist touching the cool marble of the fireplace and its intricately carved patterns. The woodwork on the wall also turned out to be a tactile treat as I made my way out of the great room. Then it was up the curved staircase to the upper floor landing. This, Mike and Dan proudly proclaimed, is the best view in the house.

View of the ensuite bathroom. (Don Denton photography)

“We love this view,” said Dan. “You look down onto the great room and out over the decks to the Pacific Ocean and the San Juan Islands. We came up here quite a bit during the build.”

To the right is a guest bedroom with an en suite. The shower in the bathroom is curved to match the curved wall of the great room below. To the left sits another guest room with en suite and a deck. Farther down is the den. All rooms have ocean views.

We made our way back down the curved staircase and onto the deck, where Dan pointed out the garden area below and the dock at the edge of the property.

“We built a cantilevered concrete deck near the ocean so the owners could fish from it,” he said with a smile.

Later, as I drive away, I can’t help but marvel at the level of trust between the homeowners and builder. What must it be like to have your dream home built while you are thousands of miles away? Dan, Mike and his team managed to do just that, and they did it spectacularly.

Suppliers List:

Plumbing: Kohler fixtures installed by Tyler Mechanical Contracting

Heating: Heat pump supplied by Island Energy

Windows: Moser passive home series, aluminum clad

Cabinetry: South Shore Cabinetry

Appliances: Wolfe, Sub-Zero

Flooring: Custom made white oak installed by Amberwood Flooring

Roofing: DaVinci roof by Custom Roofing

Interior Design: Mari Kushino Design

Counters: Stone Age Marble

Engineering: Read Jones Christofersen (RJC)stone age marble

Staging Furniture: Muse and Merchant

-Story by Darcy Nybo

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

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ArchitectureCordova BayDecorDesignHome designhome renovationsHouseOcean viewReal EstateRenoRenovationvancouverislandVillamar Construction

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