Free Issue! Try Saltscapes Magazine before you buy. Download Now

A renovation outside of St. John’s, NL inspired by the times

Despite being two self-professed city slickers, in the summer of 2019 my partner of 7 years, Gregory Godek, and I decided to take a leap of faith and go look at a tired mid-century modern property in Outer Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador. The grounds sold us on the property immediately; however, at first glance, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the interior. I specialize in full-home renovations and so I knew I would be able to come up with a plan; however, any instant ideas were not part of the process, as they usually are with my clients. There seemed to be a wall and nook at every turn and there was no rhyme or reason to the home’s layout, which had been added to a throng of times over 49 years.

If someone were to ask me to describe my own personal interior style, I would have to say Art Deco. When we decided to purchase the 70s-style home, I knew I wanted the Deco influence to be a part of that vision but I wasn’t sure how to integrate the two styles, as I’d never seen it done. Through lots of planning, creativity and determination, we went ahead with the reno and didn’t look back.

Renovations can be unpredictable during the best of times and almost as soon as we began the renovation, the COVID-19 pandemic hit ,which was a time of uncertainty for pretty much all of us. The renovation was halted and restarted and paused again, many times. It seemed to go on forever and is still ongoing, although at last there is an end in sight.

Some of our plans changed based on the pandemic, which was a twist I had never anticipated. As many of us can attest to, positive changes were also a part of the pandemic and were certainly unanticipated. For starters, I’d always flirted with the idea of putting in my own steam shower, but I never really thought it would happen until the steam facility I frequented shut down due to COVID-19. I started researching steam showers and costing and although it exceeded the planned budget, it’s a much-welcomed addition to our home. After much research and consulting with my tile installer, plumber and contractor—and waiting on parts due to delays—we finally had the unit hooked up after about five months of renos. The shower is now a lovely way to relax after a long day and adds to the ever-evolving Zen feel of our home.

In the kitchen, we decided to install a professional espresso maker. This wasn’t exactly in the original plan and again over budget; however, with shut-downs and the unknowns ahead, we decided to make the purchase and had it professionally plumbed in. Gregory did a coffee course in Florence, Italy in 2017 and is a certified coffee roaster, taster and barista, so he used his extensive knowledge and interest to research different machines and came up with a beautiful addition to the kitchen, along with a professional grinder—both from Italy, no less.

I designed a coffee bar area to house and complement all the equipment and to add a focal area to the space. The unit features mirrored doors, which bounce light around the space and draw the eye in, while the gorgeous vintage-inspired paint colour ties in the original wood ceilings. It’s here that the vision really started to take shape! We chose an authentic Calacatta marble slab from a local stone supplier and large herringbone tiles in Oriental white marble to complement and not compete with the slab. The idea behind this was to mix marbles as they do in Europe. We can now enjoy a macchiato—or my favourite, cappuccino—whenever we want, without stepping foot outside our home.

With the many lockdowns and lots of extra time, we learned how to chop deadwood from the forest and prepared our own firewood supply. Our sunroom has an existing wood-burning stove, so we would spend hours in front of the fire and of course it was a great heat source to boot.

I’d never designed a sunroom space before now and so I took my cue from the large existing skylights, and guided the eye downward to a low profile sofa which branches off to glass tables and an array of gorgeous plants. The sunroom becomes an extension of the outdoors and overlooks the neighboring forest to give a 360-degree green view. I have to admit that all of the existing wood in the home at first seemed daunting to working with but we now love it. It warms up the rooms and ties in the gold fixtures as well as lends to a rustic feel when combined to the marble countertops, grey accents and tiles throughout the home. The wood becomes the star!

The gardens are expansive and that’s also been a labour of love for both us and a new hobby; me with my rose and peony gardens and Greg with his Japanese-inspired garden. During lockdowns we spent lots of time researching and designing gardens on paper and coming up with ideas. I don’t think we would have taken the time otherwise to plan the gardens out. It’s been a fun experience and we’ve both really grown from it.

This entire process, COVID-19 included, has really been eye-opening for me personally as well as in my professional career. I have learned to appreciate the renovation process even more now that I’ve experienced it first-hand. I stepped outside my comfort zone of Art Deco and blended a style that I never thought was possible; I call it Mid-Century Deco!  

Other Stories You May Enjoy

Pining for Alpines

As is so often the case, I slid into a fascination with alpines as part of a natural progression of learning about plants and different gardening styles. Some years ago, I was visiting a...

Perfect Little Places for Plants

Container planting once brought to mind the image of basic plastic or clay pots stuffed with petunias and begonias. These days the variety of containers and plant combinations is limited only by the...

Shades of Grey Water

SINCE THE industrial revolution, and possibly going even farther back along the winding road to modernity, the children of every generation have been scolded for their wasteful habits.