Home Reno Unearths Salvageable Original Flooring

By Madeleine Sloback

Known for its mix of new and old homes, Kitsilano is among Vancouver’s most coveted communities. It’s no wonder then that a couple returning to the region from living in the United Kingdom chose the neighbourhood to put down roots. They purchased a four-level heritage home originally built around 1910. Over the years, the 3,600-square-foot house had been converted into multiple separate apartments. The new owners wanted to turn it back into a single-family dwelling.

When demolition began, the floors were one of the first items on the list to tackle. On the main ‘public’ level, peeling back the aged laminate flooring uncovered a large amount of floor-levelling concrete. Chipping it away exposed the original solid oak floors, which were mostly intact.

The design philosophy combined old heritage charm with modern layouts and art deco decor, with a focus on preserving period-specific details. Photo courtesy Tina Kulic/Ema Peter Photography.

One of the project’s biggest assets was general contractor John Quinton of Quinton Construction, who had spent 10 years on the Vancouver Heritage Foundation board. His vast knowledge of period-specific materials and designs interpreted the unearthed floor’s patterns, revealing the property’s original layout. Armed with this knowledge of the home’s history, the old wood floor could be incorporated into the updated modern design.

The first task after exposing the original flooring was to remove portions where new walls would be constructed. Once walls were framed and wainscotting finished, the existing floor patterns were reworked to fit the new size and shape of the rooms. The original floor and borders were kept in the foyer, dining and kitchen areas. New red oak top-nail flooring was used in the hallway and fitted with a simple boarder.

The restoration of the 1910-built, 3,600-square-foot home faced significant challenges, including supply chain issues, labour shortages and a lengthy permit approval process. Photo courtesy Tina Kulic/Ema Peter Photography.

Once the floor was complete with a mix of original and relocated original flooring and new pieces installed (as required), the entire floor was filled and sanded with large drum and small edging sanders. It was then stained with an oil-based penetrating stain and finished with three layers of water-based polyurethane to give the restored wood as much protection as possible.

In the end, the new design utilizes the old floor and its unique patterns to enhance the renovation. The restored and reconfigured original borders were thoughtfully incorporated and used as the literal base for the selections of wallpaper, art deco decor and antique furnishings. For example, the straight-laid floor that was placed for the original kitchen is now an accentuated feature of the new lounge.

Madeleine Sloback is the founder and lead designer of Madeleine Design Group, an international award-winning, full-service interior design firm based in Vancouver that was behind the Kitsilano heritage home renovation. Madeleine believes everyone has a vision of their ideal home. Her job is to nurture that vision into a cohesive, functional and creative design that will stand the test of time.

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