hen we first met Nikki, our brief was a simple floor & wall cosmetic overhaul, however before long the project grew to a full house facelift. Nikki being a designer herself had a very clear vision of wanting this rustic home to turn into a beach retreat. With fond memories of Montauk, New York the elements that grounded the project were firmly routed in a neutral colour palette and materials from their surroundings. Drift wood become the signature material to pull all the elements together and we all competed and combed the area to find the best pieces to feature.

This project is a classic example where you can easily lose sight of budget; we asked Nikki to share her experience with us and pass on any advice to new clients in a similar position.

“Chris truly is a master in project management, which for me was such a gift. I am the creative visionary and have very strong ideas and a clear vision of how something should come to life. However with this being my first personal renovation I know if Chris hadn’t sat me down and worked through the time management of all the trades involved we would have blown our budget completely. One piece of advice I would share is to take your time and really plan out how you see your home over the next 10 years. If you think you want to add another stage of development its best to discuss upfront because more often than not the cost to do changes to your home in stages significantly increases than if you bite the bullet and do at the same time. To call trades back continually is very expensive and often you can multitask so you should maximize their time.”

During the renovation Nikki challenged us to work on several custom details which were not always as straight forward as they seem.

“I was completely obsessed about the attention to detail and I often asked Chris if we could stain something a certain way or build something unique. Chris does really enjoy a challenge but is also aware that we haven’t got the luxury of wasting time so between us we decided on which aspects were worth a risk to test. One of which was taking Rustic Drift wood right off the beach, bugs and all and turning it into a beautiful mantle. To make this Chris invested his personal time to figure out how best to preserve the wood and properly cut and prepare it so that its wouldn’t crack or go moldy over time. We were all thrilled that our signature iconic details finished off our home perfectly.”

When we reviewed the home with Nikki we discovered that pretty much every trim and base board was differed in size. They were all wood but again different wood; it was truly a jigsaw puzzle of components. Nikki & Mark both love clean lines and light so we recommended they custom border all their windows and doors so that we could take away all the noise of mismatched lines.

“It became quite the project, we found out that many of the walls were at unusual angles and window frames different heights. This meant we needed a true craftsman to be able to not only hand make every piece but to have the vision to be able to balance all the rooms throughout the house. If you go through and measure some will be different but because of the creative illusions Chris worked on with balance you have no idea that one door frame might be slightly different to the next. I am a perfectionist and he certainly ticked the boxes for me.”

We asked Nikki if she had any other advice for new clients?

“Yes, actually one big piece of advice I would give is to allow Chris to select the entire crew of extended trade specialist needed for your specific job. He has an excellent crew and a wealth of trade relationships. If you hire trades directly to do parts of the project that do not report to the main contractor it puts the contractor in a very difficult position especially if anything doesn’t follow the timelines or goes wrong. We had instructed some trades prior to hiring Chris, which led to some good experiences and some challenging ones. Throughout all the challenges however Chris really assisted in resolving the issues often taking on the errors which his team had nothing to do with in order to help me and ensure the entire project was as perfect as it could be. I’m not sure what I would have done if Chris hadn’t have been so accommodating.”

Working with a designer can be a good way to save your budget. Nikki’s kitchen is a great example. While the rest of the house was having a more extensive overhaul it was felt that with the right colour palette, a few lighting updates and the addition of a shutter wall this entire space could feel fresh and new. Looking at the before and after images you can see how the old wooden look being updated to fresh white and grey brought it back into the beach house theme saving significantly on a fully renovation.

It’s all in the details – the finishing touches just brought the whole project to life. A beach retreat in the middle of Vancouver!