Mid-Century Minimalist Condo on the Waterfront in Victoria, B.C.

A waterfront condo renovation creates space for a simply stylish new beginning.

By Danielle Pope  |  Photos by Sarah MacNeill

Mid-century minimalism, a soothing coastal palette and natural materials — including oak slab cabinetry, oak plank flooring, stone and marble — reflect Terry Vatrt’s desire for a vacation feel in her home. A David Blackwood etching adorns the left wall; a relief print from Icelandic artist Inga Torfadóttir is on the right.

Terry Vatrt says she’s always been a person prepared to evolve. Living on the Prairies for much of her life, change came often. When her family downsized from their large Winnipeg home to move out west, it sparked a massive clearing. However, it wasn’t until recently that Vatrt was pushed to turn her shedding into something deeper. Now divorced and with her son at college, this was the first time in years she was on her own. It was her chance to start living the life she truly wanted.

“I realized it was time to step into my own life,” says Vatrt. “I wanted to be able to create and curate my space, and experience that feeling you get when you’re on vacation — having what you need, but only just.” 

Vatrt wanted her next home to welcome this phase of her life. She craved a modern, clean white space that would surround her with art, joy and provide room for those she loved — all with a backdrop of freedom. 

Creating an open, bright space was key to redesigning this garden-level condo. White gloss IKEA Pax wardrobes, modified by Renex Custom Builders, line the hallways and provide hidden storage, illumination and an illusion of height, despite the low ceilings.

When Vatrt found the condo along Victoria’s waterfront drive, she loved its location. And despite its dark palette, closed-off walls and dated kitchen, she could see potential in its sheltered patios and spacious layout. She walked away at first, but when she consulted the team she’d worked with on her previous home, they agreed: this could be the perfect restart. 

The home relies on clean lines, but the Herman Miller Bubble pendant in the dining area adds artistic interest. 

“I so appreciated where Terry was in her life, and I wanted to give her the best shot at entering her next chapter in a place she loved,” says designer Raubyn Rothschild, principal of Rothschild West Design + Planning. “I know from working on other condo renovations that what you end up with doesn’t have to look anything like what’s there. I see it as clay from the beginning.”

Dual-purpose elements, like the floating bench in the entry, offer expressive comfort — a spot to tie shoes or create displays.

The concrete and steel building made it possible for the team to gut the inside, removing entire walls to open the space. Rothschild added function to the 1,460-square-foot home by placing inset displays and storage nooks in every cavity and floor-to-ceiling glossy white cabinets in the hall. The spare room doubles as a guest room and art studio, and Vatrt’s two patios (one for sunny mornings and one for windy afternoons) highlight versatility. 

Mid-century modern furniture meshes with Vatrt’s laid-back, beach-getaway vibe. 

Soothing colours and oak and marble find their place throughout the home. While it isn’t exactly feminine, says Rothschild, it’s inviting without being fussy. Everything has a place and, in true form, leaves room for the new.

Each item in Vatrt’s home is curated to reflect the life she wants to live. She surrounds herself with treasures — many from local artists and friends — including the landscape painting from Winnipeg artist Ewa Tarsia in the kitchen.

Builder Blaine Rust, owner of Renex Custom Builders, added some special details — from hidden cabling to accent lighting. Understanding Vatrt’s love of art, Rust recommended placing the light switches nearly a foot below typical height to create clean gallery walls. 

“I often say, you tell us what you’d really like and we’ll come up with the solution,” says Rust. “Maybe we can’t change a condo’s eight-foot ceilings, but we can play with floor space, sight lines and how you use your home.” 

The kitchen is the focal point of the space and went through an evolution — starting as a white open-concept and transforming into an atmospheric centrepiece.

Practicality was an essential part of this home. The kitchen peninsula, with moody soapstone countertops, was crafted with hidden built-in storage specifically for Vatrt’s robust collection of CDs: something she’s not yet willing to give up for digital copies.

“At first we were recreating what Terry had in her old home, but she needed something more sophisticated now,” says Rothschild. “Terry was changing, and we wanted the space to elevate that.”

One kitchen wall was removed and replaced with an oversized peninsula to add storage and a sitting area. Dramatic, textured soapstone created statement counters and a glass cabinet framed in black aluminum offered a functional showcase.

“Part of my process was coming to terms with the question: what is my vision for the life I want to lead?” says Vatrt. “I’ve discovered a function of letting go is knowing that what you need will come to you when you need it. You have to make space for what’s really important.”


Designer: Rothschild West Design + Planning 

Builder/Construction Manager: Renex Custom Builders

Plumber: Nexgen Plumbing & Heating

Electrician: Ian Sparks Electric

Doors: Custom oak c/o Renex Custom Builders

Hardware: EMCO c/o Victoria Specialty Hardware and Richelieu Hardware 

Drywall: Renex Custom Builders Inc.

Tile: Island Floor Centre 

Painting: Hughes Painting

Kitchen/Bathroom Millwork:Victoria Millwork & Joinery

Custom Millwork: Victoria Millwork & Joinery and Renex Custom Builders

Finishing Carpentry: Renex Custom Builders

Floor: Island Floor Centre 

Glass: A & D Glass Co.

Countertops: Abstract Stone

Base building & Accent Lighting: Richelieu Hardware

This article is from the March/April 2020 issue of YAM