Postwar Construction Meets Prewar Charm in Victoria

by Maxwell Tielman

I have a moderately unproven and probably not-all-that-accurate theory that shopkeepers and restauranteurs are preternaturally adept when it comes to the task of homemaking. If you think about it, the skill set and networking needs of both vocations are strangely similar—you need to know how to entertain, how make people comfortable, how to arrange a beautiful centerpiece, and who to call when you need something fixed or built. This is why, when it came time to purchase a home for their growing family, Carey and Erv Salvador seemed enviably cut out for the job. Carey is the owner of a charming vintage homewares shop called Pigeonhole and Erv is the restauranteur behind two Vancouver-area restaurants—The Whip and Lucy’s East Side Diner. Like a pair of decor-inclined Planeteers, the couple’s biz-savvy powers were able to combine to transform a 1952 Victoria, BC house into a show-stopping, timeless home with aesthetics and references that span centuries.

With a little help from their contractor friend Mack Kurtz, the couple was able to swiftly expedite the renovation process, making the home move-in ready over the course of just one summer. Afterwards, it was all about adding a little charm! Beautiful hardware, vintage pieces, and objects culled from Carey’s store add old world character to the home, and spaces have been creatively reinvented to maximize comfort and entertaining possibilities—an unused room was transformed into a miniature espresso bar; the kitchen and dining room combined for a warm space ideal for small parties. Overall, with four bedrooms and beauty to spare, the home is the perfect abode for a growing, creative family. —Max

Photographs by Kelly Brown

The dining room.
"We are always tweeking and changing things in our space as we find things we love," Erv says. "The latest addition was the floating shelf I made from a two-inch-thick live edge slab I dug out of a pile of various scraps at the back of a salvage yard in Parksville, BC."
"This little display at the end of our dining area is one of my favorite spots in the house to look at," Erv says. "The ram skull I got from Chris - who owns a great shop, Stepback - is one of my favorite finds. The skull itself is in such great shape and the horns have a couple curls, which is kind of rare. [We figured out that] the card file that it all sits on fits bottles of wine perfectly, so we use it as wine storage."
"Creating an open space between the kitchen, dining room, and living room was important and one of the main reasons we chose this house," Erv says. "It allows us as a family to be able to do multiple things and still be together. Often I am cooking, my wife is working at the dining room table, and our four-year-old daughter is playing in the living room. We needed this dining area to be comfortable cause we spend a lot of time with friends and family around the table, usually with lots of food!"
The room off the side of the kitchen was formerly a windowless laundry room. Erv and Carey converted it into a cozy butler's pantry with an espresso bar.
Big Chill refrigerators aren't available at Canadian retailers, so the couple contacted the company directly to order. The fridge came along with a dishwasher cover that ended up being placed over a Sears dishwasher (right).
Big Chill's retro-style dishwasher cover hides a standard dishwasher from Sears.
"This kitchen is my absolute dream kitchen," Erv says. "When we were designing this, we wanted to have a functional and open layout with lots of counter space. Although we were working with less square feet than we would have liked, we found some pretty great solutions. After running the gas lines to the house, we were able to purchase a vintage-inspired range from the Heritage line of Aga featuring a convection oven, broiler, and side oven that fits four baking sheets. We made all the windows bigger which opened the room up even more by letting in more light. The island is so unique but so useable. It was an old oak and glass display a local picker rescued from an old bank in the prairies somewhere. It has big drawers in the back that fit all of our kitchen gadgets and after reinforcing the glass display and adding a quartz top, it now serves for a perfect area for gathering around or cooking."
Erv and Carey wanted their master bathroom to be clean and cozy, so they opted to use tiles for the floor and wainscoting. A 5-foot window was cut into the wall to brighten up the room and provide light in the hallway when the door is open. "The floor is heated for late night and early morning trips to the loo," Erv says.
Erv and Carey's bedroom. Out of view: The couple transformed a patio door into a wider set of French doors, something that allows them to extend their bedroom during warm-weather months.
The couple's daughter, Lucia's room. "Since we love all things old, [we've] been out on the hunt for all these found items since [Lucia] was a newborn. So now that she’s getting bigger, she has started to have an appreciation for small, found items and collections. All the furniture in this room is from one of our favorite shops, The Milkman’s Daughter. They take these vintage pieces and give them new life with color and prints that are unique to them."
A wall of firewood sits outside the front door. "I wanted to make sure we always had enough wood on hand, because we love to start our day and end our day in front of the fire with the whole family," Erv says.

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  • I have driven by the Pigeonhole in Victoria and have never been. I’m off to check them out. I’m so pleased to see a home in Victoria featured today.

  • visited Pigeonhole yesterday for the first time–beautiful towels, linens, and manly soaps! Merchant and Mills patterns too!

  • i am loving this house! (and it’s local for us:)) so many details that draw you in and made me look twice! please could you tell us where the light fixture over the dining room table is from?

  • This is such a beautiful space, but I have to say my favorite part of the post is really the Captain Planet reference, Max…haha.

  • Having troubles with the slideshow. One page isn’t fully loading so I can’t get past the page to get to the next picture. :(

  • Hi, your bathroom vanities are very handsome! Would you mind sharing the source for them? Thanks.

  • It looks great. I’ve seen so many vintage furniture pieces going to waste. It’s so nice that there are still people who can save this treasures and turn them into something beautiful.

  • i really love all the brown in this home! and, I’ve always dreamed of having a store counter in a kitchen, so needless to say I am in love with the kitchen. great house tour!

  • Hi, Grace.
    I’m having the same problem Yoda mentions, using Safari on my iPhone. Not sure which version of safari, but I have an iPhone 4s. I had this problem with one of the sneak peak slide shows last week as well. Thanks! :) Love the new site!!!

    • hi carly!

      can you tell me (or send a screenshot) about the problems you’re having on safari? i’m using safari on my iphone now to test, but i might have different operating software. your phone should detect the mobile version of the site- can you tell if it is? or is it trying to load the full desktop version?


  • Each room seems to be more beautiful than the last. This is a completely stunning house tour — not in that hyper-designed, artificial way, but in a really loving and thoughtful way. Probably one of the only tours where I wouldn’t change anything. Just lovely.

  • Hey, FYI I’m still having problems loading the 4th page of the slideshow on my iPhone using Safari. It’s the mobile version. I will try to load a screenshot–the rest of the page loads (I think), except for bottom half the slideshow picture plus the next buttons. I wanted to make sure it just wasn’t the end of the slideshow so I checked this post on my laptop and see there are 21 slides in the slideshow. (Perhaps it would be nice to give a slide count?) In any case, I love the new site.

    • Hi Yoda

      Is this will all slideshows or just this one? I’m testing this on safari on my phone (iPhone 5S) and can’t replicate this error :(


  • This house is one of my favorites so far. The dining room, bathroom, and master are absolutely amazing. My favorite thing about the kitchen is that wonderful reclaimed island. I’ve walked all over that neighborhood in Victoria but I don’t recall seeing their store. It’s on my list for the next time I visit which will hopefully be soon! My husband has never been to Canada but I love Vancouver and Victoria! I just have to twist his arm!

  • I absolutely love, love, love this beautiful home! I recently downsized to a tiny war-time home and have already incorporated many similar decorating ideas. My next project has got to be the kitchen (Christmas baking has made that need very clear) and I had tentative plans/ideas of opening up my living room/dining room to the kitchen, using of all things, gray base cabinets with white upper ones. Black and white tiles? Oh yes, that too.

    On a side note, Big Chill appliances are available in Canada from Elmira Stoveworks located here in Southern Ontario. I’ve had Big Chill on my radar for some time and luckily for me, I’m located very near the manufacturer. Elmira Stoveworks doesn’t make Big Chill but you can order from them. They actually manufacture stoves that are truly ‘antique’ style.

    Thank-you for sharing this lovely home with us. I’m not a designer in any way, shape or form so it helps me feel comfortable to know that my ideas could turn out as gorgeous as this!

  • Hello,

    Lovely home! In picture #8 of the espresso area, what is the item that appears to be holding a piece of text? It’s so interesting-looking…

  • Erv & Carey, you guys have really outdone yourselves! It looks fantastic! It was always a pleasure working with you guys! Congrats on a job well done!

  • I really love your master bath vanities. Can I ask where you found them? Really lovely home!

  • I love everything about your house! But I can’t stop think about your kitchen floor tile. Can you share the tile pattern or maker?

  • i am in love with the light fixture above the dining room table and would be so thankful to know the source!

  • Thank you all for the lovely and kind words.
    To answer some of your questions:
    Kitchen floors: Neisha Crosland
    Bathroom vanity: Restoration Hardware
    Dining Fixture:Crate and Barrel
    Kitchen Counter: Quartz
    Contractor: True North Carpentry in Victoria BC
    Design Spinge also has a full source list.

    Xoxox Carey

  • Stunning home!!!
    I’m wondering if you would kindly share your paint color on the dining room walls?

  • I love this apartment! Completely my style, old & quirky. Lots of interesting details & great use of colours. LOVE the kitchen & that vintage map.

  • Your home is gorgeous! What color paint is throughout? In your dining room? Thank you!

  • I love this! I can’t find the resource list- can anyone tell me where it is located? Those kitchen tiles are so pretty, and I’d love to find Neisha Crosland tile in the United States. Thank you for sharing your lovely home!

  • So charming! I am swooning over the terrarium in the bathroom, it is lovely. Would you mind sharing where it came from? I need this in my life:)

  • Would you mind sharing the link to Designsponge’s resource list? Loving the dining room paint…..many thanks!

  • Grace,

    I think the request for the list comes from Carey’s comment, above: “Thank you all for the lovely and kind words.
    To answer some of your questions:
    Kitchen floors: Neisha Crosland
    Bathroom vanity: Restoration Hardware
    Dining Fixture:Crate and Barrel
    Kitchen Counter: Quartz
    Contractor: True North Carpentry in Victoria BC
    Design Spinge also has a full source list.

    Xoxox Carey”

  • Hi there,

    I’ve searched desperately for the source list on DS, to no avail. I am specifically interested in paint colors. Bedroom, dining room and living room.


  • Love you kitchen cabinets!! Would love to know where you purchased your lover cabinets, it if you painted them, who’s color is it? Been searching for a color like that and cant find it anywhere.

  • Love this. What are the paint colors used for the cabinets? I love the two toned grey and white look!

  • Love this look. Wonderful arrangement and use of old furniture, would like to have these kind of chairs at home. these days many people go for modern stuff, but these classic things have special place.
    Thanks for sharing .

  • Do you happen to know the style of the kitchen floor tiles? I went to Neisha Crosland site, but no luck finding. Thanks!

  • Was wondering who the manufacturer and style i
    s of the bullnose tile used in the bathroom. Having trouble finding something similar online and I’m really digging it.

    Thanks, Allison

  • Love love love the color on the lower kitchen cabinet … please share the paint color!!!

  • Hi, would you mind sharing what finish you chose on the RH vanity? It looks like Antiqued Coffee. Can you confirm – I am ordering for our powder room – I love it!