Classic 70s post-and-beam home revitalized for indoor-outdoor living

My House Design/Build and Emphasis Design Studio took it from retro to refined

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At first, Donna Heine wasn’t a huge fan of the 1970s post-and-beam home that she and her husband Eric ended up buying and renovating in Fort Langley.

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“It’s a very narrow house, so it’s not a conventional layout, which was throwing me off,” she recalls from an early viewing. But the location? Perfect for a couple of empty nesters seeking tranquility, given the house’s large lot, flanked by acreage.

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“This was an ideal neighborhood for us. We just loved it. There’s lots of room to move around, and lots of potential on the land.”

Love for the living space came later, after a top-to-bottom reno by My House Design/Build, completed in 2022.

A new in-ground pool/hot-tub combo features a walkable, retractable insulated cover, while a new exterior kitchen built into the garage adds an outdoor serving bar for entertaining.
A new in-ground pool/hot-tub combo features a walkable, retractable insulated cover, while a new exterior kitchen built into the garage adds an outdoor serving bar for entertaining. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNGs
outdoor areas
A 1970s home in Fort Langley presented some challenges when the owners decided to give it a makeover. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNGs

Project interior designer Morgan Weldrick saw the home’s potential from her first visit. “Yes, it needs upgrading. . . but it already has a bunch of characters and really interesting elements to it,”

Weldrick says. Such elements include the original vaulted ceilings and a towering granite stonework fireplace anchoring the living and dining area.

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But she also had to contend with a classic 1970s configuration: a “catastrophically small” laundry room and a cramped, closed-off kitchen with a pass-through. So Weldrick’s first task was to juggle some of the spaces for better functionality, swapping the mudroom and laundry room and taking down a wall to open up the kitchen.

“We don’t have a basement in this house—everything’s on one level—so Morgan did a great job with storage, making use of every inch,” Heine says.

Weldrick worked closely with the couple to come up with a woody industrial design style, modern yet warm and in keeping with the home’s vintage.

In the kitchen, this manifests in natural materials, like walnut and stone, juxtaposed against off-white and muted metals; nothing too spartan or high polish.

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“I really love how the island turned out,” Weldrick says. “It’s quartz, but [the team members] were able to miter and seam it in such a way to make it look like big chunks of stone,” she says. In lieu of traditional upper cabinets, which Weldrick worried would make the space feel enclosed or “like a kitchen that you’d find in any home,” she substituted an industrial-style floating shelf.

In the dining area, 15-foot-wide nesting-glass doors open to the outdoors for a seamless indoor-outdoor feel. Polished concrete floors lend a smooth visual transition to concrete tiles outside.

A warm-and-woody design aesthetic complements the home’s original features, such as a large granite fireplace, to which interior designer Morgan Weldrick added up-lighting. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNGs
A mitred and seamed HanStone quartz island gives the appearance of heavy stone, opposite walnut cabinets. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNGs

And there lies the real showtopper: a new outdoor-living space, which was recently nominated for a Homebuilders Association of Vancouver award.

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The team replaced an aged, decked-in model with a new in-ground concrete pool/hot-tub combo surrounded by concrete pavers. A porcelain-lined outdoor shower offers a spot for swimmers to rinse off.

The Heines were hesitant to tackle the pool area initially, says Graeme Huguet, founder and general manager of My House Design/Build. But the refresh dramatically transformed the outdoor space and made financial sense too. “The cost to do a repair was almost what it was going to cost to redo with a brand-new swimming pool,” he says. “Now, everything doesn’t just function well, but it flows well. And it’s much more energy efficient.”

A storage area in the home’s detached garage, which backs on to the pool area, became a stylish outdoor kitchen and serving bar for entertaining, using cabinets relocated from the old kitchen.

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Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances and a ceramic-tile backsplash (Artigiano by Ames Tile). Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNGs

Off the home’s dining room, a new outdoor-relaxing area features a custom gas firepit, encircled with cut wood for a natural feel (yet safe to use under cover). A sectional sofa and swiveling plasma TV make for comfy lounging, protected from the elements by a 16-by-32-foot glass overhang, reinforced with glulam beams and steel. The transparent cover allows natural light to flow through into the house, unlike an opaque one, Huguet says.

The transformed outdoor area is Heine’s favorite place to spend time. “It makes the house look so much bigger, and we’re just using it so much,” she says. “We sit out here all through the winter. We’re big sports fans and we’ll watch TV in the hot tub or in the pool. It has just given us so many more reasons to be outside.” And more reasons for their adult children to visit with the grandkids, too. “They love it here, and that’s what we want.”

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The residence is now a showpiece for the ultimate in indoor-outdoor living. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNGs

Any reservations she had about the house have vanished in the wake of the makeover. Since moving in, the couple has become acquainted with their neighbors, including a few who were around at the time of the home’s original construction. Back then, it was the cool house on the block, Heine says. “With all the angles and the sauna and the pool, it must have been really something back in the day.” No doubt it’s the cool house once again.

Construction and design: My House Design/Build

Interior design: Emphasis Design Studio

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