Homes Photo Credit: Roger Brooks

Cliffside Getaway

A serene spot in Victoria is the perfect location for a busy executive’s private getaway.

When David Knight first spotted this Oak Bay property, the Torontonian knew he’d hit pay dirt. The existing Tudor-style dwelling was perched cliffside on the ocean’s edge—its grand location a rarity grandfathered from when it was first built in 1940. The placement ushered in incredible views and, more importantly, privacy. “It was paradise,” says Knight. “You literally couldn’t see or hear the neighbours.” The location was perfect, but the house less so. If Knight wanted to preserve the home’s unique location, building a new structure was out of the question—but he could renovate. So with the help of architectural designer Grace Gordon-Collins and project architect Ernest Collins, he set about creating his own personal version of paradise: an elegant, 6,000-square-foot Georgian-style home that incorporates his love of nature and art with a bit of fun. “It’s so orientated toward his lifestyle,” says Gordon-Collins. “He loves and respects nature, and wanted to connect with it from the ocean on one side to the garden on the other.” The Collinses started by adding wings on either side of the entranceway, giving the house an H-shape. Palladian and curved windows raised the height of the entrance and hallway. But, most importantly for the nature-loving Knight, most rooms gained outdoor access—from the garden-facing sunroom and office, and the seaside kitchen, living room and master bedroom on the main floor to the guest bedrooms and media room on the lower level.

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ENTRANCE: The original large black front door blocked nature and light. It was replaced by an antique French garden gate reworked into a custom glass door that instantly draws you inside. SITTING ROOM: Benjamin Moore’s classic neutral “Mayonnaise” paint on the walls adds a touch of warmth to the cool view.

Outside, a slate driveway descends through indigenous Garry oaks, curving past water features and sculptures. The former garage was moved up to street level and out of view, allowing for a new sunroom that extends from the kitchen to the family room.

Interior designer Robyn Meredith Bryson was brought on board to balance formal and fun in the interior design—a painstakingly detailed process that took more than seven years to complete. Knight wanted each room to be an experience, so each has its own unique personality: one guest bedroom is slate blue, another a cheery yellow. Large, elaborately detailed cornice mouldings were installed throughout the house, right down to the main guest powder room—which includes richly painted murals of Chinese blossom trees in bloom, heavy gold-leafed mouldings, an antique vanity and a winged gold swan faucet. Schonbek crystal chandeliers feature in nearly every room, from a showy piece beneath the entranceway cupola to unexpected appearances in the hallway and master bedroom closets.

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The dining room, one of Knight’s favourite rooms in the house, features dramatic accent walls in silk moiré and a barrel-vaulted ceiling with gold leaf and relief plasterwork of blossom branches. Richly upholstered tulip-backed chairs and heavy velvet drapes make the room extra cozy in the winter months. The master bedroom is Knight’s pastoral retreat, with an ensuite bathroom that features a deep, relaxing soaker tub, and direct access to a private hot tub outside. “Hearing the sound of the ocean at the end of the day is amazing,” he says. “It makes for easy sleeping and lazy mornings.” More than anything, the home is miles away from the investment manager’s hectic life in Toronto. “It’s a quiet spot in a busy world,” says Knight. “You take a deep breath and enjoy the water, the views to Mount Baker—it’s a centre of peace.”

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ABOVE: Schonbek crystal chandeliers feature throughout the home, though there are plenty of other dramatic accents as well—Roman columns in the entranceway, a bath with a 270-degree view. BELOW: The dining room features a hand-painted ceiling.
ABOVE: Schonbek crystal chandeliers feature throughout the home, though there are plenty of other dramatic accents as well—Roman columns in the entranceway, a bath with a 270-degree view. BELOW: The dining room features a hand-painted ceiling.

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