Alma House was born out of the modernization of a historic house in Vancouver, achieved with a very trusting and supportive client and strong commitment from our collaborators, who were all willing to test and explore different approaches to bring new life to an old home.
Our client wished to modernize their home while preserving aspects of its history. With any renovation, particularly for historic sites, we find a balance between the protection of the host site and the advancement of contemporary responses.
Where we thrive is when we can create modern interventions that are antithetical to the site, rather than trying to mimic the home’s original style. Providing this contrast allows the historic elements to shine, while contemporary elements stand out.
As in many historic homes, the kitchen was not set up in a way to support contemporary lives.
At the client’s request, we focused on revitalizing and opening the kitchen and dining area as the core of the home, which extends to an elevated deck. This project also included a strong focus on basement enabling. We lifted and stabilized the building and brought in natural light by reinforcing an outside connection to a sunken patio area.
We worked with Unbuilders to secure yellow cedar ties from a 200-year-old railway line to add detail to this patio space, while Aloe Designs brought harmonizing landscape elements including plantings salvaged from another Measured project.
Where possible, we utilized and modernized aged infrastructure, upgrading the old reading room to an entertainment room; conjoining the main bedroom with a second bedroom to create a walk-in closet; and appropriating an attic space for a his/her bathroom complete with steam shower.
The primary focus of this project was on making a historic house more livable for a contemporary family. A revitalized kitchen and dining area allows the family to come together in a common space, where kids can do homework at the dining table while dinner is being made. A reclaimed basement area provides a comfortable nest-like environment, rejuvenated with Venetian plaster, pixelated blue millwork, and hospital curtains (a nod to the clients’ medical professions).
Subtle details have been incorporated throughout the interior to add colour and light, including an angled pivot mirror in the kids’ bathroom to reflect the sunset. Scandinavian millwork and contemporary lighting throughout contrast the home’s history, while heavy fabrics in drapery and cushioning for built-in seating bring cozy comfort to the space.