The new owners, who purchased the home as a vacation property, felt a remodel could overcome those shortcomings, so they approached McKeown Foster about the project. McKeown Foster owns Jodi Foster Design + Planning, a Victoria, British Columbia–based firm. She had worked with the homeowners previously on an adjacent property, so her firm was the natural choice for the project. “Once you work with a client, you understand where they’re coming from, their personalities, and how they like to work. The relationship becomes more cohesive every time you work together,” she says.
On the island, strict laws govern waterfront development. Those laws required keeping the original footprint of the house. Even with those limits, McKeown Foster was able to realize the homeowners’ vision. “They wanted a light-filled, comfortable, easy-to-care-for, and accessible home, with room for extended family and visitors. They were inspired by the Cape Cod style.” After the old home was brought down to its studs, McKeown Foster resurrected a cottage reminiscent of Eastern seaboard architecture. The t-shaped footprint of the home was a challenge, but McKeown Foster used the intuition that a space planner gains with experience. “If you listen to what the house wants to do and what the clients need it to do, the space presents itself to you logically,” she says.
A first step in the remodel was to open the home to the panoramic vista. “I believe a home should relate to its surroundings, whether that is a natural rural landscape, waterfront, or a vibrant cityscape,” says McKeown Foster. This home, bordered on three sides by water and backed by a centuries-old forest, has beautiful surroundings to draw from. One aim of the remodel was to invite that beauty indoors. “The views are spectacular. We wanted the interior palette to be muted and quiet to get the most value from the view,” she says. The remodel took optimal advantage of the sun’s path across the property. “Our design process usually includes taking time in an existing space or site at different times of the day to get a sense of how the light moves and changes.”
The new design seamlessly connects the interior and exterior spaces. Every principal room in the home has direct access to the two-level, wraparound veranda. Light floods in from tall windows and French doors, both topped by transoms. Skylights illuminate darker spots in the home and mirrors are used on interior walls to capture and reflect all available light. Glass, crystal, and nickel hardware and fixtures gleam, while crisp-white walls and creamy trim amplify the daylight and frame the wood and waterfront vistas.
McKeown Foster’s firm makes plain its belief in creating timeless and enduring spaces. “Great bones are essential,” she says. “If a space is planned and designed to function well, then that space will always work no matter the manner of decor or trend applied after the fact.” This vacation home was designed to welcome a crowd and to function as the carefree backdrop for a family on vacation. One-hundred-year-old, reclaimed-hemlock floors take in stride the sand and saltwater tracked in by children, guests, and pets. Slipcovers encase common area furniture and can be easily washed. Wooden pieces can be wiped down. Frequent use only adds to the charm of antiqued bed frames and case goods.
“The project was a great before-and-after experience,” says the designer. “The transformation was truly breathtaking, from a dark and forgotten place to a light-filled cottage with sweeping views.”