Before & After: A Cottage-Inspired Makeover In The City
When Sophie and Cameron Burke bought their nearly century-old house, set on a half-acre in West Vancouver, the renovations by various owners were looking quite dated. Clashing mustard, burgundy and brown walls, and a lack of natural light “made the house feel dreary and depressing,” says Sophie, owner of Sophie Burke Design. But Sophie was particularly keen on the home’s original elements — the leaded-glass windows, a beautiful fireplace clad in river rocks from the neighboring creek — and knew she could give the home a cottage-inspired makeover that suited its spirit. See how Sophie took the house from glorified “fishing lodge” to cozy family home with tons of vintage character in just three short months.
The living room had to be a friendly spot for family hangouts. Before it was painted, “the panels made it feel like a dark cabin,” says Sophie. To create a more welcoming cottage feel, she and her husband, Cameron, experimented by whitewashing the tongue-and-groove boards to let the wood grain bleed through, but it was a fail. “It just didn’t look right,” she says. Instead, the painters covered everything with three coats of Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White, applying boatloads of caulking in between the panels on account of the warped boards. In the end? A serene room that matches the home’s painted-white motif.
On either side of the river-rock fireplace, a pair of boxy wool lounge chairs echo outdoor Muskoka models and reinforce the home’s cottage style.
The home’s existing windows were left unchanged. “We didn’t want to lose the character,” says Sophie, who also kept the skylights. An enclosed porch was transformed into a dining nook, and Sophie retained the panelling to give the space a casual vibe.
Sophie was intent on uniting the home’s best original elements with the new look. In the kitchen, she saved the beautiful leaded-glass cabinet doors. After they were cleaned, she used them to face the new upper cabinets above the fridge and the double-width cabinets. While the lowers were painted Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black in a 10% gloss blend, the vintage doors were left unpainted to highlight their history. For brightness, she removed the wood ceiling panels to accommodate fresh drywall and six recessed lights.
It took the couple four months to choose the grey grasscloth wallpaper in the dining room, but their deliberations paid off: “It makes the room cozy,” says Sophie.
A low bed works well with the slanted ceilings in the principal bedroom.
The dressing area in the principal bedroom also serves as a quiet spot to read.
The bathroom on the main floor is Sophie’s favorite room in the house. She created a custom pattern with black and white Moroccan floor tiles, then painted the walls in Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black for a little drama. A wall-hung sink and industrial lighting look suitably retro in the historic house.