Home Tour: The Chic Cottage Conversion

By Danielle Pope

Photographs by Joshua Lawrence

From the time he was four, Taylor Willms grew up in a beautiful home on the edge of View Royal, with unparalleled views of historic Cole Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Originally built in the 1950s, the Tudor-style home kept the feel of a weekend cottage over the years, though the house had been renovated to add a den, finish the basement and improve the upper floors. 

After living in the home for 28 years, however, Willms’ parents knew they needed a change. Some rooms were seldom used, and the house’s layout left bizarre pockets of space. Lingering asbestos and heating issues also needed addressing. Fortunately, Willms’ partner, designer Andrea Rodman, would help the family turn the home into a modern masterpiece. And with Willms’ own construction company, Sol Construction, plus the services of a friend in the cabinetry business, the entire project was kept in the family. 

Style Evolution

“It’s amazing to see the house evolve into something my parents love and can use even more,” says Willms. “My wife designed the house as though it were a reno for herself, so everything was custom created, and my parents really trust her.” 

Today, the home holds an elegant mix of Scandinavian and minimalistic design, with just a hint of country. Rodman used a colour palette that incorporated the creams and whites of the cottage feel, while bringing in golds and blacks in trim and hardware to heighten the modern element. The engineered white oak floors blend with white quartz countertops to add light to the Oxford-white walls. 

Yet, the finished product took some doing — the home was stripped to the studs internally, and walls were removed to open the entrance and main floor. The old chimney was torn down, and the crew cleaned up the asbestos and replaced the heating system. 

“Our goal was to open up the home,” says Rodman, owner of Andrea Rodman Interiors. “No one was enjoying the living room, as a wall cut it off from the rest of the house. So people would sit in the kitchen. Now it’s a usable great room that’s just the right space for people to gather, and it’s still warm enough for a couple.” 

Classic Meets Contemporary

In tribute to the house’s original style, Rodman kept a few key elements intact, like the classic stairwell, solid wood doors and mullion windows. Edwardian chairs and a custom-built couch add to the traditional look. The millwork and details, however, were brought up to modern standards. Clean, sleek cabinetry replaced ornate wooden cupboards, black-cast hardware was brought into the kitchen and bathrooms, and gold pendant lamps adorn the dining area. The kitchen was built into a frame in the wall, creating a cleverly disguised look for the appliances.  

Korey Sandsmark, general manager with South Shore Cabinetry, played a key role in the project’s success. The cabinetry was created from riff-cut white oak, and matches the island and the living room media closet.  

“From the outside, you wouldn’t expect what you see on the inside,” says Sandsmark. “As soon as I heard about this project, I realized we had to do it — this was something special. It might look simple, but there was a lot of intricate and high-quality planning that went into this home.”

Rodman and Willms agree that the shift has created a more pleasing space for all. From the country dining table to the inset fireplace and gold accents, it’s a home to be proud of. 

“Everything is highly functional now, which was our main goal, and the style is simple but elegant,” says Rodman. “It can be hard to convince people to let go and be open to change, but Taylor’s family was really ready for this, and everyone left happy.” 


Designer: Andrea Rodman, Andrea Rodman Interiors

Construction Manager: Taylor Willms, Sol Construction 

Doors and Hardware: Emtek Products (interior doors were refurbished) 

Windows: Westeck Windows and Doors

Tile: Sol Construction

Painting: Diamond Quality Coatings 

Kitchen/Bathroom Millwork: South Shore Cabinetry

Custom Millwork: South Shore Cabinetry

Carpentry: Sol Construction 

Floors: BOEN 

Glass: North Glass & Aluminum  

Countertops: Stone Age Marble & Granite