The Craftsman-style house has now been popular for more than a century. And this one in Victoria, British Columbia, has the rare advantage of pristine original woodwork, plus a lovely garden.
Built in 1913, the original owners were Ernest and Selina McKie, who came to Canada from Wales around 1910. The couple’s former house offers three bedrooms and just one bathroom in 1,635 square feet, and is set on just under a fifth of an acre. Repped by Marilyn Ball at Coldwell Banker Oceanside Real Estate, the asking price is approximately $975,000.
Like many places across North America, home prices have been going nuts in the Vancouver area the past few years. That’s partly due to the large number of Mainland Chinese nationals who have poured into the local real estate market and driven up values so quickly that that even modestly sized homes can command a hefty price. The capital city of British Columbia, Victoria, is on Vancouver Island, while the city of Vancouver is on the mainland. Named after Queen Victoria, the island city’s housing stock often has an English flair to it, as in this quaint updated Craftsman where the wood trim is slightly less severe than it would be on an American Craftsman.
So what exactly is the Craftsman style and how is it manifested in this house? Much of the credit needs to be given to designer Gustav Stickley, who popularized the international Arts and Crafts movement via his influential magazine, The Craftsman. In time, all houses of the style became known as Craftsman, whether they used Stickley’s house plans or not.
Craftsman houses emphasize simplicity in form, use of local materials, and honesty in construction. They were built for ordinary working people, so most of them are small by current standards, and certainly do not offer the numerous ballroom-sized bathrooms buyers expect in new builds today. They were designed to be cozy, with warm colors, and straight-forward materials, such as the wood used here, which was likely sourced locally. Clean, strong lines are emphasized with box beams and other millwork, which are complemented by tapered posts.
Space saving built-ins are a signature feature, as are fireplaces that serve as the heart of any Craftsman home. Often, the central fireplace is flanked with bookcases, but here, one side is given over to a built-in bench known as a settle. The dining room also boasts original built-ins with leaded glass doors, along with a beamed ceiling.
The kitchen is quite spacious and though updated with cork floors and new cabinets, adheres to a typical Craftsman style. The woodwork is painted white and the tile countertops are also white because of the emphasis on hygiene during the years before World War I. White kitchens and bathrooms meant that no germs could hide. The bathroom, which would no doubt have contained a white pedestal sink originally, now sports a Craftsman-style vanity with marble top.
The Craftsman movement even extended to the garden, which should be full of flowers for that homey look. And this one, ringed in mature specimen trees with a charming gazebo and flowering borders around the central lawn, certainly fits the bill.
Ernest and Selina both lived to be well over 90, and if they were around today, would no doubt be pleased to see their home looking so spruce. They might also be surprised by its almost million-dollar asking price.