How One House Spanned Three Generations
A local architect embraced the chance to modernize this West Coast home while preserving a family’s history. See it yourself on this years MADS Modern Home Tour.
“We call this project the Re-Generation house,” says Allison Holden-Pope, architect and principal of One Seed Architecture + Interiors, “It’s a play on words, as we regenerated the existing home, while revitalizing it for the family’s next generation.”
Respecting the original structure of this house was important to the homeowner, who grew up here with his family. He met his wife when they were just fifteen, meaning she pretty much grew up here too. “The first generation passed the house on to their son and his wife, who now live there with their two boys,” explains Holden-Pope, “There’s a lot of history there that we wanted to preserve.”
When you look at the “before” pictures of this West Side home, it’s difficult to image that the little grey rancher is hiding in the new design somewhere, but you would be surprised at how much they managed to keep. “The crazy thing is we kept the perimeter of the house the same,” says Holden-Pope, “We literally ripped the roof off and replaced it with bold forms that form stacking boxes.”
It was important to the family that the house paid tribute to the original structure, so One Seed combined elements of the original floor plan—which was already in good shape— with substantially increased ceiling height to create a modern space resemblant of its predecessor. The kitchen and the dining room now sit in the very same space the homeowner knew growing up, as does the striking open staircase, made from salvaged treads milled from a cedar tree removed in the back yard. “We removed the floor above the entryway so you get this open feeling with the staircase,” describes Holden-Pope, “but we didn’t put in a skylight to avoid overheating.” Instead, in an ode to the home’s west-coast surroundings, the firm installed highly-placed windows that look straight in to a canopy of trees above.
“The interior was a collaboration with the client,” says Holden-Pope, “she’s a very talented designer herself and has been planning this project for decades.” And you can see the attention to detail that could only be achieved by passion for her craft in the kitchen, with a slightly light-blue tint on some of the white cabinetry creating layers in what typically would be an all-white kitchen, and an island with mitred edges made to look like a solid marble block.
The family are extremely active, meaning there was a real debate as to whether a pool or a basketball court should be installed in the back yard, adjacent to the home’s new generous deck. “In the end the basketball court won out,” laughs Holden-Pope, “We also installed a fire pit and a concrete bench around the perimeter for entertaining on tournament weekends.” The large, folding Marvin Integrity Wood doors bring the outside in to the dining space on warm, summer evenings, accentuated by a slate feature wall. “The homeowners are very sociable; they are great chefs,” explains Holden-Pope, “We wanted to give them a space that would compliment that.”
The expansive front yard was previously treated as wasted space by the family, who, like most homeowners, prefer the privacy offered by the backyard. “We wanted to reclaim the space as something that would benefit the house, not just exist as 2300 -sq.-ft. of grass that needs watered,” explains Holden-Pope, ” so we created a deck and a small private garden surrounded by greenery that will continue to grow and make the space more dynamic.” In fact, the firm is so confident in the home’s newfound privacy that they installed the master ensuite right at the front of the house, so the homeowners can look out while they shower, but no one can look in.
“The homeowners say people stop by all the time and ask to look around,” laughs Holden-Pope, “I think the neighbours are happy we didn’t build a monster house. We could have, but why build something so much bigger than you need?”