If you grew up in Vancouver, you would be very familiar with the old-school Vancouver Special. Love it or hate it, this classic house design and build is salt and peppered throughout town. Good, bad, or ugly; they are back in vogue. If you are at all familiar with the original layouts of these houses, they were speculative two-storey single family residences without basements situated on a standard Vancouver lot. If you were lucky enough to afford a larger lot, your expanded Vancouver Special layout was a little less cookie cutter. Exteriors were usually finished with brick or rock on the bottom half of the facade and white stucco on the top. Most were furnished with a narrow top floor balcony the entire width of the house, accessed by double sliding glass doors off the living room. A peaked roof topped off these beauties. The main floor was usually comprised of a full suite with a single bedroom and bathroom, its own kitchen and living room. The left-hand side carpeted corner stairwell led you up a narrow hallway of three bedrooms with a single bathroom. Bathrooms were often gayly adorned with colourful porcelains ranging from dusty pink to harvest gold. Kitchens saw equally colourful treatments with avocado green and chocolate brown matching appliances. The kitchens were separate and tucked into a dim back corner of the top floor. The living room always had a wood-burning fireplace with brick or rock face to complement the exterior building face. Through a narrow doorway, you would find a slim carpeted dining room connected back to the living room. This was the 1980s, so all floor coverings were either carpet or linoleum and the ceilings were all sprayed with popcorn texture. There were no finishing touches like crown moulding, tall baseboards, nor wainscoting. They were meant to be modern and basic. They were your parents’ starter home as a kid growing up in the 80s who listened to bands ranging from AC/DC to ZZ Top.
Nowadays, they are sought after by the nostalgic or by those who want a practical yet fulfilling renovation project. They can be transformed via renovation into some real gems. Here at VictorEric, we have redesigned and renovated a few. We are in the midst of one in East Vancouver, currently in the design concept phase. Instead of chopped up rooms, the living space will have an open concept kitchen and family room. The colour palette will be light and neutral. No more pastel purple toilet and sink for this ugly duckling. She is deservedly and ready to be transformed into the elegant swan laying beneath.
Join us on this particular Vancouver Special’s renovation journey.