Cou­ple in their 80s — an artist and a re­tired ma­jor gen­eral — had no qualms tack­ling top-to-bot­tom project

Times Colonist - - Front Page - KIM WESTAD house­beau­ti­ful@times­ PHO­TOS BY DAR­REN STONE

Joan Pat­tee’s art­work graces homes through­out North Amer­ica and Europe, yet she ca­su­ally de­scribes her­self as “an ex­cel­lent Sun­day painter.” This un­fussy at­ti­tude, paired with an in­stinc­tive eye for beauty and de­tail, guides her art as well as the many home ren­o­va­tions she and her hus­band, Val, have done in their re­tire­ment. Joan’s art and the cou­ple’s lat­est ren­o­va­tion will be on dis­play as one of five homes open to the public Sun­day in the Gallery As­so­ciates 2017 House Tour.

Vis­i­tors will be able to see Joan’s va­ri­ety of art­works, from oils to metal works, in the home that she and Val cre­ated over the last two years.

The Pat­tees’ Up­lands home has been ren­o­vated from the roof down.

The cou­ple, who have been mar­ried for 60 years, had no qualms about tak­ing on a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion in 2015, af­ter a house Joan had cov­eted decades ago came on the mar­ket.

“For most cou­ples, ren­o­va­tions are di­vorce ma­te­rial,” Val said with a laugh. “But it’s not for us. We en­joy ren­o­vat­ing homes, and we’ve got­ten pretty good at it.”

The house seemed like the per­fect home to down­size to from their larger home around the cor­ner: It was one storey, had a large gar­den and was on a quiet street. It needed work to fit their vi­sion, but the cou­ple loved its po­ten­tial.

Their first call af­ter buy­ing the house was to con­trac­tor Tim Agar, the project man­ager at Hori­zon Con­tract­ing. The com­pany con­structed the cou­ple’s pre­vi­ous new build on Cardi­gan Road, and the Pat­tees had worked closely with Agar.

“Tim is knowl­edge­able, he’s gen­uine and he does what Joan asks him to,” said Val, only half jok­ing. “We look for some­one who will par­tic­i­pate in crit­i­cal de­sign de­ci­sions, but has the flex­i­bil­ity to make on­go­ing changes. That’s Tim. He’s very col­lab­o­ra­tive.”

The cou­ple wanted to en­hance the ex­te­rior es­thetic of the house by adding a porte cochere at the front door and a cov­ered pa­tio at the back. The in­side was to be com­pletely re­done. It’s the kind of chal­lenge Agar likes. Their pre-ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship also helped the ren­o­va­tion process.

“This was an op­por­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate with clients who had a clear vi­sion of what they wanted. It was ex­tremely help­ful to have a long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship, as we had de­vel­oped a com­mon lan­guage be­fore the project be­gan,” Agar said.

The Pat­tees moved out of the house for much of the ren­o­va­tion, but Joan was on site most days. She brings the same vi­sion to de­sign­ing a home as she does to her art­work.

“She moves things around un­til the struc­ture and colour are just right,” said Val.

Joan’s sense of space and light is ev­i­dent through­out the airy home.

“I have to be hands on. I have to be do­ing,” said Joan, who de­scribes her­self as “vis­ual and not ter­ri­bly or­ga­nized.”

She’ll stand with the con­struc­tion crew, suss­ing out the size of a door­way and de­cid­ing it needs to be larger.

“I look. I see the space and I make it work. I don’t have any great plans when I start with a paint­ing and I do my homes and gar­dens the same way.”

Joan’s art­work — ev­ery­thing from oil paint­ings of Up­lands Park to cop­per enamel cre­ations evok­ing the Prairies — are dis­played through­out the house. Her first teacher was Arthur Lis­mer of the Cana­dian Group of Seven. One of his draw­ings is in the en­try­way of the house. While rais­ing a fam­ily, she stud­ied at the Uni­ver­sity of Que­bec — where she spe­cial­ized in cop­per enam­elling — as well as the Uni­ver­sity of Win­nipeg, the New School of Art in Toronto and Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­sity in Mon­treal.

The cou­ple moved ev­ery few years as Val’s ca­reer in the mil­i­tary pro­gressed. He’s a re­tired ma­jor gen­eral who was chief of in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity for NATO in Europe and Canada.

The own­ers of this ren­o­vated Up­lands home, who have been mar­ried for 60 years, love en­ter­tain­ing and cre­ated a large, com­fort­able out­door space for warm-weather so­cial­iz­ing.

The of­fice is where Val Pat­tee, a re­tired Cana­dian ma­jor gen­eral who worked with NATO, writes spy thrillers. So far, he has pub­lished two.

An open foyer greets guests as they en­ter the Up­lands home. The Pat­tees re­moved pil­lars that were orig­i­nally in the en­try­way.

The kitchen/fam­ily room has an open, easy flow, ideal for ca­sual en­ter­tain­ing. The fam­ily room opens up to the large out­door en­ter­tain­ing area.

Joan’s art­work is on dis­play through­out the house. She has worked in a va­ri­ety of me­dia, from cop­per enamel to wa­ter colour, acrylic, oil and mixed me­dia.

Joan brings her eye for colour to the guest wing. The bed­rooms are dec­o­rated in warm and wel­com­ing colour schemes. The cou­ple’s two sons of­ten visit.

The glass brick in the master bath is orig­i­nal to the house. The own­ers kept it, lov­ing the light it brings in.

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