Many years ago when a Vancouver builder sought the best piece of low bank waterfront on the Sunshine Coast for a new house, he would never know how happy its current homeowners would be with their piece of paradise by the sea.
“There’s a lightness of being in this place,” one of the homeowners tells Coast Life magazine. (The couple requested to not have their names used to preserve their privacy.)
Using the services of Mithrush builders, KVW Design and a host of tradespeople, the couple have spent the past two years renovating the original house into a dream home. It is light—the sun enters from every angle—it is airy, and the vast picture windows open onto a spacious terrace that spills onto a ground level deck, then onto a sandy beach where poppies bloom continuously. Just beyond the beach is the Strait of Georgia where the couple can enjoy a refreshing swim in all weathers.
The homeowners offer a tour through the property near ts'ukw'um (Wilson Creek). It starts on the long driveway where workers are busily building a pumphouse for a well, a timely addition during times of drought. The wide, covered front porch with stonework by Walsh Masonry comes complete with a brick pizza oven and outdoor seating. The first stop on entry is an open cloakroom topped by a sign, “Life is beautiful,” with hooks for coats, niches for hats, shoes, folksy ornaments and cedar baskets.
From the front hall a visitor’s gaze is captured by the stair railing up to the second floor. Ashley Odd, metal fabricator at Roadhouse Kustom Metals in ts'ukw'um has created a fanciful metal railing for the winding staircase. Whether you think it depicts graceful calla lilies or waving undersea kelp, the overall effect is attractive.
The stairs lead to a gallery landing that overlooks the front hallway and leads the way to a guest bedroom and a master bedroom furnished in soft grey and white tones. The bedroom’s glass doors open onto a wide deck—no words are necessary. The view is a joy.
The 4,300-sq.-ft. house features a large, airy living room with an upgraded, energy-efficient, wood-burning fireplace by Coastal Chimney, which is surrounded by river rock. Butterscotch brown leather sofas, soft lighting and one of the couple’s own sculptures on display give the room a contemporary yet comfortable look. The ceiling beams are made of hundred-year-old fir and credit is given for the interior and exterior cladding to builder Louis Domingue. As we travel through the home, praise is given to all the workers who helped make it their dream home.
“They became our friends,” said one homeowner. Blake Mithrush, the contractor, comes in for special attention. “He took our hands and walked us through it.”
Mithrush agreed. “They were amazing clients,” he said, “in terms of understanding construction.” They also had to understand and cope with the massive price increases for materials during the pandemic. Though the foundation was solid with no rot, the majority of the house had to undergo a major reno. It was stripped to the studs, the layout was changed, rooms were refinished and even reconfigured. Mithrush also added an upstairs deck off the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom.
There are four bathrooms in the home, but the ensuite is the grandest. A high-tech toilet opens its lid automatically when the intended occupant walks toward it. A shower without the usual glass enclosure is situated next to a door to the upper deck. When water splashes onto the tiled floor and the deck door is wide open on a warm day, it’s as close to an outdoor shower as you can get. Even those lounging in the bathtub can enjoy the view of the beach.
Mithrush’s company (mithrush.com) has been in the construction business for the past 15 years and they employed their own design professionals for the building’s structure. But Katrina Walters of KVW Design (email@example.com) used her background in architecture to provide interior detail and landscaping.
“My approach to design is to first understand what is important to the client—their daily rituals, and how these rituals inform how they will move through their home and property,” Walters said.
In particular, she added, the initial approach to the house had been austere and rigid. She was particularly happy with how they were able to soften the entry using both architectural and landscape features. “It establishes a more permeable and inviting dialogue between the inside and outside of the house,” she said.
She also understood colour—the soft honey brown tones of the living room contrast with the stark, clean white of the kitchen.
Both homeowners like to cook in their custom kitchen. Three sinks, one on an island solely for the prep chef, makes for maximum efficiency as it allows both to work at a sink without tripping over each other.
A large Wolf range dominates the room, but the couple’s preference is to use a simple GE wall oven for most baking. A microwave, Sub-Zero fridge and wine cooler are easily at hand while a KitchenAid mixer springs up for use from its cupboard hideaway. Tucked away out of the main traffic area is a nook with bar sink and coffee maker that can be quickly reached for a morning fix.
Walters knew how important these service areas were to her clients. It required reconfiguring some awkward spaces to allow new task areas for a wet bar, recipe desk and accessible storage.
While the kitchen is modern and sparkling, the adjacent dining room has a classic, elegant appearance. It’s easy to imagine the candlelit faces of dinner party guests around the hardwood table enjoying a gourmet repast in old-world comfort.
A utility room features washer and dryer plus a Japanese hotata, an indoor clothesline on a pulley allowing it to be hoisted to the ceiling where the rising warm air dries clothes quickly. Other efficiencies are built in, for example, a storage crawlspace in which a person can stand upright. The spacious house includes a meditation room, an exercise room and an office.
The couple acknowledge that the cost for this renovation was way over budget. “It was bigger than expected,” they said, “but now it’s perfect.”