“Home is where the heart is.” “There’s no place like home.” “Home Sweet Home.” When it comes to where we choose to hang our hats at the end of the day, we are never at a loss for poetic idioms that conjure warm feelings of love, laughter and family. Why, the very word “home” can suddenly transport us to the Christmas that we finally got that puppy, our sixteenth birthday party or that stolen first kiss on the front porch. Home is both where we come from and where we find our own rocking chairs as we wait patiently for the kids to visit. It is much more than just a place, it is a feeling.
So when we were invited to share an afternoon with a really great family at their very special lake house, we knew that the story went far deeper than that. What we really got to share that day was a chapter in the life of a grand old house, and the wonderful people who have made it a home.
As you slowly meander up the long driveway flanked by dainty trees swaying in the wind and vast fields humming with the soft sounds of nature, you are eventually greeted by this stunning house. All at once stately and elegant yet comfortable and welcoming, our arrival was made even warmer by the friendly smiles of the owners, Lia and Murray Woods, part of a select group of interesting owners who have thrown fabulous parties and entertained the likes of Bette Davis.
Feeling more as if we were visiting old friends than meeting for the first time, we quickly started to make our way around the house to take in the beautifully landscaped yard and breathtaking scenery and to hear some of the stories that make this place so very special.
When they first moved in it took twelve bonfires and labour of love to clear the overgrowth and discover the view. The picturesque gardens are lovingly maintained by Lia who has since become a master gardener. Just a few steps down the stone stairs reveal the tiny paw prints of Winnie the cat, a former resident of such importance that renovations had to revolve around preserving them.
Architected by R. Douglas James from Victoria, well-known for his residential and marine architecture, and built by Mr. J. Lee in 1929, the entire house features built-in cabinetry and bookcases that capitalize on storage space and reflect the design commonly found on ships.
A welcome break from a busy and hectic day, a quiescent moment looking out over Quamichan Lake twinkling in the sunlight is one that is well spent. Comfortably seated in the cool shade of this superb Dogwood tree, it would prove an impossible task to find anything better to do.
Tasteful and period-correct renovations have been done through the years by various owners, resulting in a traditional home with a contemporary feel and wide open spaces filled with light. Furniture had to be carefully considered, and no detail was spared to maintain the character of the original home. Replete with original features such as the finials over the bookcases and doorways, the luxurious wooden ceiling beams and an old-fashioned telephone box built right in to the wall, old and new blend perfectly together to create a truly unique family space.
A stroll up the antique wooden staircase takes you to the second floor where it’s surprisingly cooler than it is downstairs on this hot summer day. Murray and Lia, in the true pioneering spirit of wishing to leave their own indelible mark on the home and wanting to maintain a system that allowed them to make use of the beautiful original iron radiators, they installed a geo-thermal system that perfectly integrated with the original home. A complex series of pipes placed throughout the yard at a depth of 5 1/2 feet and run by an impressive set-up in the basement keeps the house perfectly comfortable in any weather.
As we took one more stroll around the gardens before bidding farewell to our new friends, we visited a studio that belonged to a former owner and gifted artist and discovered other storied buildings with quirky names such as the “meat locker” that left it purely to one’s imagination to speculate why.
As we walked together we revelled in the tales that really give personality to the house. Little things like how the chandeliers were impulsively bought on a trip to Italy and an entire adventure ensued as the Woods’ had to work out how to get them home, mostly relying on the honesty of complete strangers. Or how every year new baby birds hatch just outside their daughter’s window, where she gets a “birds-eye view” of them growing. Or how a raptor showed up in their tree one day and became an adopted member of the family, waiting for them to come home each day and even being so bold as to peer in the windows and land on their arms.
A home really isn’t just about décor or style or elegance or grandeur. It is about love, safety and belonging. A welcome haven from an often stressful world that feels more like a hug than a place. If home truly is a feeling, it is one that has been lovingly captured in this exquisite house by the special family whose hats can be found hanging here.
Thank you so much for joining us today on our visit to the Lakehouse. Please feel free to leave any comments or stories you might want to share, we always love to hear from you!
Until next time!
* In case you might be interested in writing the next part of this story, the Lakehouse is currently listed for sale through Kim Johannsen of RE/MAX Of Duncan. The MLS listing is here, and you can see more details on the website here and more photos of the house at our gallery here.