A Designer’s Take on Victoria Design Styles and Homes

Sherry Willing

By Sherry Willing

Lead interior designer and owner of Make It Real Design talks about what makes Victoria’s home design unique.

Victoria is home to a variety of distinct architectural styles and design sensibilities. As a local interior designer, I’ve worked on homes in many different styles – from heritage homes (Victorian, Tudor, Craftsman, and Colonial) to contemporary West Coast.

Each style has unique challenges and rewards, but some common themes resonate and typify Victoria’s design style.

Victoria, BC design is:

  • A connection to nature and the outdoors  

  • A focus on comfort and livability   

  • Attention to detail and craftsmanship

  • Understated, classic style

These elements come together to create warm and inviting homes that reflect our island’s unique character.

small kitchen in Oak Bay with grey cabinets and open shelving

We Love Nature & the Outdoors

Where we live impacts how we want to live in our homes. Bringing natural light into our houses is a huge priority because so many days are grey. Also, since the weather is cold for much of the year, people want to make their inside space a comfortable place to enjoy their natural surroundings.

Kitchen space as an office
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Cozy place to enjoy the View

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Natural Lighting


Borrowing that secondary view from our windows is an important element in design here on the island. Even if people don’t have a waterfront view, many live in an area where they can see trees or a natural landscape. (We are The Garden City, after all!) Seeing natural vegetation and greenery is important.

We Want Comfort & Craftsmanship

We expect kickback comfort, even if we’ve designed something high-end. 

People who have the funds to design their home want it done well. They want great quality. They want to see beauty in all the finishes. It’s not to impress anyone, but for their own satisfaction. Achieving something beautiful and well-made is rewarding . It’s not wasteful or pretentious but down-to-earth and practical. 

Part of being laid back is having furniture that’s dog friendly and kid friendly. It’s about the feeling you get when everybody is in the kitchen cooking a farm-to-table dinner.

traditional BC kitchen with mix of modern, minimal design

We Are Classic & Understated

In Victoria, everything is tied to an appreciation of the natural environment because we’re so close to it. Design in our location is about trying not to be wasteful in the way that you live in the world, trying to be aware of people and things around us and not ostentatious.

People here prefer to do things quietly and not call too much attention to themselves even when creating something breathtakingly beautiful. Classic or understated doesn’t mean boring or dull.  It means care and attention to decisions, creating rooms and spaces that will sit in harmony with the environment and be beautiful and functional for years to come.

Design with the environment

Harmony

With a Side of Environmental Consciousness

People here want to be good stewards of their resources. We use things over and over again. Victorians are caring and like to donate things that somebody else could use. We’re careful not to destroy things that can be taken to local charities like Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

A lot of people prefer to source their materials locally and use British Columbia products. We do this when possible. That’s where our relationships with local suppliers come into play. We are able to introduce clients to the incredible materials and artisans here on the island. For example, we purchase from the local mill and marble quarry.

Nature designed bathroom in Victoria

Designing for Victoria

On the interior design side, there’s a big interest in letting natural beauty show through. Using live-edge wood slabs is one way to do this. The original characteristics of a tree; its shape, and bark can be beautiful on a vanity or table. You’ll also see pebbles, stones and natural colour pallets used often in West Coast design. Light wood tones and deep greens bring our outside beauty indoors.

What ends up being important for people is a balance of styles. For example, someone might want a contemporary dining room and living room. But they might want to keep an old dining room set with sentimental value. So it’s important to find harmony between old and new. 

Many people are renovating older homes, often built between 1930 and 1970. So, a marriage of old and new becomes a must. In older homes, rooms tend to be smaller, and people want to open up their space. Cove ceilings, interesting fireplaces, gables or funky features need to be incorporated.

Designing for Victoria is all about considering the unique sensibilities of our environment and those who live here. We appreciate natural beauty and want to be good stewards of our resources. And, because we love the nature that we’re close to, many of us prefer using locally-sourced materials. All these factors come together to create the unique Victoria home style.

We’re ready to help you transform your home in Greater Victora!

Sherry Willing

Lead Designer & Co-Owner, Make It Real Design

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