Vancouver Special Facelift


We love Vancouver Specials. The exterior renovation of this East Vancouver Special celebrates and modernizes the iconic Special ‘look’. We created a quick and dramatic transformation with very few alterations to the home beyond the facade … a house ‘facelift’ if you will.

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The house was textbook Vancouver Special: two storeys with the lower level at grade, simple rectangular footprint with a low sloped gabled roof, white stucco siding on the upper level, brick along the front at the lower level, and of course a balcony with a metal picket guardrail which spanned the full length of the front facade. Our design applied simple changes to the exterior elements of the house, supported by strong colour blocking with an industrial-inspired material palette. The finished home stands out in a sea of Specials, while at the same time celebrates the geometry and simplicity of the Vancouver Special.

To battle the overpowering horizontality of the typical Special, we broke up the balcony and swapped out the horizontal picture window above the entrance with a narrow vertical window, which ties in with the new vertical siding design. By removing the decking from half of the balcony, and maintaining its structure, we were able to convert it into a smaller balcony with a feature guardrail in wood and steel that provides more privacy for the living room. In addition, the entry was defined by cantilevering a new roof canopy off of the remaining deck structure above the door. The existing deck structure can still be seen, spanning the gap between balcony and canopy.

This late model Special (1980) had a second false gabled roof over a small bump-out on the second level, which was more Craftsman than authentic Vancouver Special. As such, we cleaned up the lines of the house by removing it and extending the eave above. We maintained the stucco and brick on the majority of the house, painting them both a slate colour to accentuate the textural difference between materials, while removing the contrast. To create a sense of verticality, we replaced the siding on both storeys at the front door’s corner of the house, as well as over the attached garage at the back of the house.

Although we only changed the siding on a small percentage of the house, the impact was substantial. The bold material palette includes corrugated steel siding in a charcoal colour, bright merlot-red powder coated steel plate panels, white washed horizontal cedar siding spaced to create dark reveals between boards, and guardrails made from industrial metal grate panels.

The owners let us know that they are loving the finished product and “getting endless compliments from passers-by on your design!”

Builder: Headland Construction

Photography: Headland Construction and One SEED

Sustainable • Evocative • Efficient • Distinct

Vancouver* Studio 604.566.9808
Victoria* Studio 778.265.2008
Bold and Award-Winning Designs – Based in Vancouver* and Victoria*
* Based in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, as well as the Lkwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees), Malahat, Pacheedaht, Scia’new, T’Sou-ke and W̱SÁNEĆ (Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum) peoples.
©2024 One SEED TM Architecture + Interiors Inc.

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