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Thanks to HB Design, an extensive renovation brings life back into this rustic-yet-sunny home owned by a pair of Earls Restaurant co-founders.
When Stan Fuller and his wife, Julie, approached designer Jennifer Heffel to update their home on Eagle Island in West Vancouver, the house had seen better days. “We went to Jennifer and said, ‘We want to keep this house forever,’” says Fuller, who co-founded Earls Restaurants with his father, Bus. “We’ve raised four kids here, we intend to have this place used on the weekends by our children, and when they get married and they have children, we want it to be that kind of place. But the house had been beaten up pretty thoroughly by four boys growing up there.”
And so the direction to Heffel’s team at HB Design was pretty straightforward: “The qualifier was to make it beautiful and bulletproof at the same time,” says the designer.
Heffel also knew she wanted to stay true to the character of the home—this wasn’t about trying to start from scratch. “The original home was stone clad, heavy with dark woods, strong mouldings and reclaimed floors,” she says. “It was a bit rustic, as an Eagle Island home would be. And we wanted to retain that.”
There had been a few unfortunate renovations over the years—“Like somebody was trying to make it into a beach farmhouse,” with a hodgepodge of too many styles, she says. “We wanted to strip it back to the original intent, and start layering on complementary design elements.”
That meant embracing the beautiful chocolate wood tones, and adding in layers of detail: ceiling treatments, linen wallcoverings, rustic notes like lamps with marine-inspired cording on them. Heavy beams were retained but stripped and stained a richer, darker colour from the orangey shade they’d faded to over time.
The living room, rarely used pre-renovation, is now the heart of the home, thanks to a re-think of the smaller windows and French doors that once lined the wall. Heffel and her team mapped out which doors were actually used and replaced—and the rest became fixed picture windows, which now flood the room with natural light and open up the home to the views outside.
The wall above the fireplace in the same room was reconstructed using stone from an exterior wall on the back side of the house—stone that was originally blasted from the property when it was built 25 years ago. And that gorgeous coffered ceiling is new, too. “I feel in a large room like this one, the ‘fifth wall’ is very, very important,” says Heffel. The detail adds visual interest, and also has the added benefit of disguising roller-blinds that were installed along the perimeter of the room, intended to filter the afternoon sun on warm days.
The “bulletproof” component of the directive was handled in clever ways. The cream-coloured linen sofa and chair in the casual family room off the kitchen—and, in fact, the majority of the furnishings—are actually covered in Perennials indoor-outdoor fabric. “They didn’t want to be worrying about someone spilling something
on the sofa—they wanted this house to be indestructible,” says Heffel. “Even 90 percent of the rugs are indoor-outdoor area rugs, with the newer, softer feel to them.”
In the dining room, the original table was stained to better match the now-richer colour palette of the home, and paired with comfortable chairs with wicker backs and leather seats. The dining room also connects with a wine room, the latter now lined with barrel staves from a Napa vineyard—once part of a private seating area in an Earls location in North Vancouver. A chandelier from the Chicago World’s Fair, acquired from Scott Landon Antiques, sets the mood for the space, and when the family needs more seating, they set up a table in here, too. “The intent of the house is to have quite a flow of different areas for different groups of people to sit down,” says Heffel. “They entertain a lot, and they entertain quite casually.”
The Fullers couldn’t be happier with the new space—and Heffel couldn’t be happier with that. “My definition of success is how thrilled they are, and how this house has been given a new life,” she says. “I love the emotional side of homes for people, when people are emotionally attached to the memories. And I feel like now we’ve given this home, which sat there lonely and not used, this renewed love.”