Bill Turecki and his wife bought this cottage in Boundary Bay in 1994. “When we moved in on January 1st it had no central heating,” Bill recalls. “There was a wall heater in the living room along with an electric insert in the fireplace. It was very cold that year. A couple of ceiling fans in the cottage struggled to circulate air throughout four rooms when both heating units were turned on. Needless to say we and our two children slept with sweaters for the entire winter.”
The condition of the home only added to its charm: the walls were insulated with newsprint (Bill kept a few pages; they were from the late 40s) and there was no insulation beneath the floorboards. The front yard had no lawn, just dirt. Bill and his family embarked on a renovation to restore the home to its former glory, bringing it modern amenities while honoring its storied past. Bill tells us more:
What do you love most about the location?
Boundary Bay is a beach community 20 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. I was familiar with the area as a child because my parents bought a place in an adjacent neighbourhood called Beach Grove where we lived from 1958 to 1962. In a way it was like coming home. Our place is one block away from Boundary Bay Beach. The beach is natural and runs adjacent to a bird sanctuary designated by Metro Vancouver. From the beach there is a stunning view of Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands. It was simply a beautiful place to raise a family and get away from the hectic pace of the city.
The home was in rough condition when you first moved in. What was your vision/inspiration for the decor and style of the space?
The cottage we purchased was built during the summer of 1948 by a father and his son (the father came by occasionally for a few years to see how we were doing with the place). The original foundation was logs. It was important to my wife and I that our renovated home reflect the beach community that we lived in. Our inspirations for the interior were French Country and West Coast Cottage (historically, most of Boundary Bay was cottage country up until the 80’s). The flooring throughout is Canadian Heritage timber (reclaimed barn flooring from the Fraser Valley); the windows are custom made double pane Douglas fir; all interior/exterior doors are either custom made or purchased from reclaimed vendors. We could have increased the value of the property by building a second floor. We decided we couldn’t make that work with out harming the cottage appeal. The front third of the house is the original cottage in terms of exterior/interior walls/layout.
Are there any pieces — furniture, art, accessories — that you especially love?
There are two: In the master bedroom you’ll see a tall antique accounting table. It is 19th Century oak and was actually used by my wife’s grandfather for writing up the ledgers for his business. The other is an antique oak stacking file cabinet [in our living room]. It was given to us by Mrs. Gwen Murchie of Murchie’s Tea and Coffee. The company was incorporated in Vancouver in 1894. My wife worked there for 30 years. We believe time period manufactured for this piece is 1920 – 1940.
How long did the home renovation take, and do you consider it “done”?
The renovation took most of two years to complete. I don’t believe you ever consider your home done (why would you want to give up such a wonderful pursuit?). Seriously, we would have loved to have renovated both attic spaces and rebuilt the front and back lawns.