The best of both worlds

With a less-is-more vi­sion in mind, this cou­ple found a mid­dle ground be­tween old and new while ren­o­vat­ing their first fam­ily home.

The Coast - Homes Halifax - - Real Renos -

W hen car­pen­ter and pho­tog­ra­pher cou­ple David Bryant and Can­dace Berry bought their 100-year-old house, they knew they wanted to make some ma­jor changes. The lo­ca­tion was prime—a dead end, north end street on a park—but the cir­cum­stances, not so much. Dur­ing the renos, Berry was both preg­nant with the cou­ple’s first child and on a hec­tic sched­ule of shoot­ing 30-plus wed­dings (one of which was in New Zealand), mean­ing their great­est ob­sta­cle in the pro­ject was time.

Luck­ily, this wasn’t their first rodeo. In 2014 the cou­ple teamed up with Bryant’s dad to quickly trans­form a lit­tle north end house, which sold nearly in­stantly, but this time, they were play­ing for keeps so a lit­tle ex­tra stress was worth it.

“You can buy a house any­where and make it look good, but you can’t change a lo­ca­tion,” says Berry. “The house it­self was prob­a­bly more work than we wanted to do. In a dream world we just wanted to do cos­metic touch-ups.”

Be­cause of its cen­tury old qual­i­ties (small kitchen, one bath­room, no laun­dry, choppy space), Bryant and Berry de­cided that putting an ad­di­tion on the first floor was the an­swer.

“We ba­si­cally had to take the back off the house,” says Bryant. “It was a lot of work ty­ing to­gether the old and the new.”

This was some­thing the cou­ple was pas­sion­ate about, not just for their per­sonal, min­i­mal­ist tastes, but for re-sale po­ten­tial too. They wanted ev­ery­thing they up­dated to be stylish, but more time­less than trendy.

Along with keep­ing the trim con­sis­tent through­out, Bryant used re­claimed maple hard­wood from the for­mer Greenwood army bases to keep the flow of the home, from old to new, seam­less.

“I bought it from a guy in the val­ley called Happy Joe,” he says.

“We knew we wanted a blank can­vas, we wanted white ev­ery­where,” says Berry, who was drawn to clas­sic black and white, mixed met­als and light wood in her plan­ning. The ad­di­tion made room for a much larger, open con­cept kitchen and pantry, a full bath down­stairs, a mud­room and coat closet and a home of­fice.

“Things like tile, van­i­ties and faucets re­ally pop if the rest is kind of a blank slate,” says Bryant. With this in mind, Berry paid close at­ten­tion to lit­tle de­tails, like match­ing her faux brass light fix­tures (the fo­cal point of the kitchen) to her cup­board han­dles, and leav­ing open shelf space for prac­ti­cal­ity pur­poses, but also decor. But the stand­out de­tail of the add-on? Black and white porce­lain tiles that im­i­tate the look of vin­tage, hand­printed ce­ment ones, the kind that might ac­tu­ally ex­ist in a cen­tury-old home.

While her keen eye for aes­thet­ics helped Berry cre­ate a sim­ple, clean, stylish space, so did her love of good light. Be­cause “every­body looks good and feels good in a room with lots of sun­light” she sug­gested find­ing an­other way to let it shine in—us­ing an old win­dow frame from her par­ents’ farm as a tran­som.

“We got mar­ried there in the back­yard and col­lected win­dows from the farm next door and used them in the wed­ding,” she says. “We had it for the last five years, sit­ting out­side our apart­ment door. And I said, ‘I think this win­dow would fit per­fectly.’”

And wouldn’t you know it, just like the rest of the ad­di­tion—it did.

“Ifeel like I’ve al­ways been vis­ual,” says Mary-ellen Power. “I can see the good in places, es­pe­cially be­cause my dad’s a realtor too and homes, it’s al­ways been in my blood.” Thanks to the hous­ing know-how in their ge­netic makeup, both Power and her brother Graeme have made ca­reers in real es­tate, branched out to­gether in the fur­ni­ture-mak­ing busi­ness with Power De­signs and, most re­cently, started flip­ping houses.

“We had a client who was in­ter­ested in the house and wanted to do a quick flip on it, but the deal fell through. We were like, ‘Why don’t we do it? If they can, we can,’” she says of the small po­ten­tial-filled place in Dart­mouth’s in-de­mand Crich­ton Park neigh­bour­hood. “It was just kind of like a light­bulb mo­ment.”

The Power sib­lings saw past the house’s de­fi­cien­cies, like how the kitchen had no cab­i­netry at all, in hopes of mak­ing its sell­ing fea­tures—a cor­ner lot and big back­yard, new win­dows, a new roof, hard­wood floors— shine as bright as they knew they could. “And I think just the neigh­bour­hood, like they say in real es­tate—lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion is ev­ery­thing,” says Mary-ellen, who’s cur­rently liv­ing in the house.

She and her brother ini­tially de­cided to ren­o­vate just the main floor of the two-bed­room bun­ga­low, but once they’d bud­geted, hired con­trac­tors and dug into the work they de­cided to go big on the lit­tle home and gut the base­ment too. The kitchen, or lack thereof, was their big­gest con­cern, as was re­fin­ish­ing all of the hard­wood floors, but the base­ment wound up get­ting the big­gest makeover.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to sell a two-bed­room house so it was a no-brainer,” says Mary-ellen of the pro­ject that re­sulted in two ex­tra bed­rooms, a brand-new bath­room and a rec room. It meant com­pletely re-fram­ing, re-wiring and in­su­lat­ing the floor, putting in new win­dows and in­stalling base­board heat­ing.

The decor was in­spired by a lot of Pin­ter­est peep­ing, but mostly took its cues from the one piece in par­tic­u­lar— the doors. The Pow­ers re-trimmed all of them to cre­ate a five-panel look and painted them black, a per­fect mod­ern ac­cent to the bright, neu­tral walls and nat­u­ral, rus­tic look­ing hard­wood de­tails like the floors, and hand­made Power De­signs pieces like a head­board, cof­fee ta­bles and din­ing room table.

“We did a ton of look­ing on­line on Ki­jiji for stuff, we found our back­splash on there—it was mar­ble and this guy was sell­ing it for dirt cheap, it was left­over from a reno he did. We found a cool man­tle a guy was sell­ing and put that up around the fire­place,” says Mary-ellen. “Other than the fur­ni­ture we made, we bought ev­ery­thing off Ki­jiji.”

Though she’s loved liv­ing there, Mary-ellen hopes to be pass­ing on the house to a new owner in the spring. But be­fore tak­ing on their next flip, she and her brother will take their own ad­vice: “I think the big­gest thing is to not take on too much. Let the pro­fes­sion­als do their work, es­pe­cially when it comes to elec­tri­cal and plumb­ing.”

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