Vancouver Special Renovated for Rental Income

Vancouver Special Renovated for Rental Income

Modernization of Vancouver Special home receives facelift and renewal

This segregated family home needed modernization. The client wished to renew their original “Vancouver Special” house to meet their lifestyle needs, retain the home’s existing footprint and avoid significant structural changes or additions. The large expanses of floor space found in these common Vancouver Special layouts are hard to resist as functional family homes, but the boxy layout leaves much to be desired.

Renfrew Heights, Vancouver

Reconfiguration of a Vancouver Special, Exterior Refacing, Basement Rental Suite


Modernist, Modern, Minimalist, Bauhaus


Convert traditional, segmented “Vancouver Special” into single level open-concept family-style kitchen and home for mom and daughter team who love entertaining, with new suite downstairs. Outwardly just another stucco and brick-faced home built in the early 70s. The homeowner’s intention wasn’t to impress people driving by, but rather to create an entertainment space inside that’s all about the wow factor.


U-shaped kitchen-counter (with abbreviated peninsula) and walls between kitchen/dining-room and dining/living-room replaced with L-shaped counter, center-island, and eating-bar (seating for four). Sink and new, energy-efficiency appliances re-positioned on west wall. Two sill-less windows frame the stove. Island and eating-bar purposefully minimalist to create expansive, uninterrupted work-surfaces that doubles as buffets when entertaining.

A much-loved, stone fireplace retained as focal point of reinvented, top-floor great-room. Second-bedroom converted to spacious master-suite with en-suite (client criteria) featuring dramatic grey-on-grey colour palette, no-threshold shower with floating corner-seat, matte-glass accent, and easy-care floor-tile replicating industrial-chic look of polished-concrete linear floor-drain nearly invisible. Basement (economically re positioned as two-bedroom rental suite with open kitchen/living room, laundry, and private entry) creates gentle densification.


Free-standing pantry-wall eliminated. Reclaimed space becomes built-in laundry-station (pre-wired for TV) with full-sized, stacked washer/dryer plus five-foot work-station. Innovation: two-panel, sliding glass barn-door lightweight, (with unusual, geometric vertical-string pattern and rear matte finish) conceals laundry when not in use. Fireplace’s earthy-green/pink undertones subtly recur in glass barn-door and new bathroom tiles.

Main-bath features playful, graffiti-inspired shower surround (with hint of gold shimmer). Both have wall-mount faucets, shower wand, soaker tub, plus space-effective, shallow make-up drawers.

Ground-level foyer expanded for seating and art-display area. Glass-and-metal stair-railing to upper-floor gives sense of “arrival”.

Kitchen storage options to meet client directive for “clutter-free counters” include pull-out canned-goods racks, peg-drawers for safely storing dishes, magic-corners in lower cabinets and flush-fit mounted plugs.

Small, solid door to rear deck replaced with contemporary-styled, double French doors, sliding windows, and vertical transom: indoor/outdoor spaces merge for year-round enjoyment.

Project Recognition

CHBA National SAM Award 2013 Finalist -Best Kitchen

Vancouver Heritage Foundation Annual Vancouver Special Tour
(September 2013) One of only five homes featured on the tour

  • U-Shape Kitchen allows space for 2 chefs.
  • High-tech gloss finish cabinets.
  • Roll-out drawers provide easy access to small appliances.
  • Modern sill-less windows.
  • Barn door conceals laundry and work station.
  • Bath features playful graffiti tile and soaker tub.

During the total renovation of our original Vancouver Special, TQ construction was able to bring the house into the modern day and beyond. They listened to all our needs and wants and have made our vision come true! From the planning phase to the design phase to construction right up to completion we were always aware of what was going with the project. A very professional and more importantly approachable team all around!!!

- Steven, Vancouver Homeowner