As you pull up towards the home of Cayley Lambur, co-founder of the design and architectural firm Electric Bowery, you notice it straight away – sitting on a raised foundation, this 2,300 sq. ft. house has a presence. But beyond its current physical stature, it’s a place that has had character since its inception. Originally a rectory built in 1901, in the ’80s it was taken down and put back together in its current location, painted a striking coat of pink, earning its name “The Big Pink”.
“The original house was not unlike an elementary rendering of a haunted house — long, dark hallways, low ceilings, ancient wall-to-wall brown shag carpet (the first thing to go) and no heating or cooling system,” Cayley explained. Although to most it would appear to be a tear-down, to the designer and her husband it had potential. “It originally had a formal layout with a front sitting room and formal dining area that we felt needed to be preserved,” she said. “We ended up connecting all the rooms on the ground floor with a wrap-around porch and invested in slider doors around the house which again allows us to open the whole place up, especially when we have larger parties.”
Another structural change that had to be made was reconstructing the roof. In the beginning, Cayley and her husband were preparing themselves for major foundation issues, which surprisingly turned out to be fine. The roof, however, needed serious addressing: “Luckily, in reframing the roof we ended up with beautiful exposed beams in the bedrooms, which were unplanned, but make all the upstairs bedrooms feel much larger and incredibly unique,” she added.
On a tight budget, Cayley was able to source old reclaimed Douglas fir flooring from the overstock of a previous job. Its dents and knots didn’t deter them from using it in their home and were actually a point in its favor – its character went with the feel of the home and its less than perfect state was practical for their two pets (a cat that loves to chase their puppy) and 16-month old son. They invested in their millwork, hiring Swiss Woodworking to create the cabinetry in their kitchen and bathrooms.
It took Cayley and her husband around 9 months to complete the renovation – living in the home, in two semi-inhabitable rooms, renting their old place to cover the costs, and starting her new architectural firm at the same time – but in the end “Big Pink”‘s new state suited them perfectly over the years. “It should be noted that the house is continually changing,” Cayley shared. “After the renovation was substantially complete, we moved the office of Electric Bowery back into the front room for a while, before eventually taking over the garage studio which we never thought we’d be big enough for. We grew in that space for a few years to a staff of seven before admitting we desperately needed more space, and in January of 2016 moved into our studio space on Hampton Drive.”