Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden architects + urbanistes

In renovating a historic Vancouver residence, local firm Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden achieved a deft melding of old and new that centers on an exuberantly hued, light-strewn kitchen. “Although the house is from the 1920s, the clients, and our firm, both lean in a very Modern direction,” says principal in charge Alan Boniface. “We wanted the design to respect the original building, but also respect how we live today”—namely, with porous boundaries between rooms.

House 3
Photo © Kristopher Grunert/Kristopher Grunert Imaging

Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden architects + urbanistes

General contractor
G. Wilson Construction

Structural engineer
Equilibrium Consulting

Poggenpohl (cabinets); Finelines Glass Installations (island counter, backsplash); Bordingnon Marble & Granite (granite counter)

To that end, the architects devised a 750-square-foot addition hinging on a steel-and-glass light well that both articulates and eases the transition between centuries. “While separating the two structures in plan and section, the glass ‘knuckle’ is actually quite simple. It’s about light and views rather than form,” explains Boniface. Full-height glass panes overlooking the backyard fold over the ceiling plane to form skylights, while a fritted-glass landing at the top of a cantilevered stair filters illumination into the kitchen below and creates an illusion of loftier proportions. “In such a small space, we couldn’t pull off too many grand gestures,” he says. “Yet there’s still a lot happening here.”

Nodding to the past are vintage-style pendant lights and flooring of Brazilian cherry, chosen to complement the patina of the original red-oak planks elsewhere. The finishes are otherwise stridently contemporary, with granite counters, streamlined German cabinetry in brushed aluminum and gunmetal-grey laminate, and an island and backsplash clad in assertive green glass. “Every room in the house is a different hue,” explains Boniface. “The clients are very colorful.” And so, it seems, is the architecture’s spirited dialogue between eras.