The Japanese inspired aesthetic of this renovation incorporates the homeowners’ heritage while also celebrating what makes Vancouver Specials wonderful.

Project Name: Multigenerational Vancouver Special
Architect: One SEED Architecture + Interiors
Status: Built
Principal: Allison Holden-Pope
Interior Design: One SEED Architecture + Interiors
Builder: Vertical Grain Projects
Photography: Martin Knowles Photo/Media
Styling: One SEED Architecture + Interiors
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.  Vancouver: Renfrew-Collingwood Area, RS-1 zoning

Multigenerational Vancouver Special by One SEED Architecture + InteriorsProject Description:

The Multigenerational Vancouver Special was a renovation of the iconic Vancouver Special, a housing model very common in Vancouver, BC.  This particular house was a sub-type of the classic Vancouver Special, but almost as ubiquitous throughout Vancouver. The renovation converted this Vancouver Special into a contemporary multigenerational home. It incorporates three generations within one house, with two independent, yet interconnected suites.  The design is flexible enough to accommodate the changing needs of each generation throughout their lives and takes special care to ensure that each suite has access to lots of light, high ceilings, and dramatic spaces.

Multigenerational Vancouver Special by One SEED Architecture + InteriorsThe 2 bedroom and 2 bath lower level suite feels like a first class space, and nothing at all like a basement suite.  One SEED Architecture accomplished this by re-purposing one bedroom on the main floor, and giving its volume to the garden level suite.  This created a new massing element on the front elevation that gives the suite a street presence.  It also provides the garden suite with 12 foot high ceilings in their living room, with large view windows looking out toward the mountains, a 3 foot diameter string feature light, and a ton of natural light.   A spacious chef’s kitchen overlooks the back garden, as well as a desk dedicated to creating artistic works of calligraphy in the natural light.

Multigenerational Vancouver Special by One SEED Architecture + InteriorsThe split-level entrance with iconic double height glazing at the entrance is a favorite feature of this variation of Vancouver Special. The renovated design maintains and accentuates the entry element with a new solid fir door and windows.  A smoked glass multi-pendant light fixture occupies the entry, as a nod to the mid-century heritage of the Special.

The main floor of the house is grounded by a Japanese inspired feature wood screen element which serves as structural support for the salvaged lumber floating stair, as well as a canopy and bench for the dining room.   The open concept main floor with a large kitchen, living room, and dining room has a calming material palette of whites, greys, concrete, light oak flooring, and warm Douglas Fir accents throughout.

Multigenerational Vancouver Special by One SEED Architecture + InteriorsAs lovers of all things ‘Vancouver Special’, a key factor driving the design was to respect and continue the original clean lines of the Vancouver Special while modernizing its shape and form. The new half-storey that was added is set it back from the front of the house so as not to increase the perceived size of the front elevation.  This was especially pertinent on this sloped lot where the street front is significantly lower than the house entrance.

Manufacturers / Products:

  • James Hardie / HardiePanel Fiber Cement Vertical Siding
  • Architectural Numbers (
  • Door Bell: Atlas Homeswares / Avalon Lighted Door Button DB643-BRN
  • Mailbox: Umbra / Postino, Stainless Steel Mailbox
  • Fireplace: Montigo / H Series H34DF Fireplace
  • Fridge: Samsung / RH22H9010 Fridge
  • Range: KitchenAid / YSKDB00ESS Range
  • Dishwasher: Blomberg / Dishwasher
  • Shower kit: Aquabrass / Trevi N1056 Square Shower kit
  • Bathtub: Valley / Acrylic AVOS Free Standing Bathtub
  • Tub filler: Aquabrass / Volare Straight 61084
  • Kitchen Faucet: Valley / Single Side Lever Kitchen Faucet VF-S0912
  • Kitchen cabinets: IKEA / SEKTION with custom fronts and accessories
  • Pendant Light at kitchen island: Live Wire Pendant Large
  • Pendant Light at entry: Nuevo / Mildred 5 Light Pendant HGK157 smoked grey
  • Vanity light at master: Modern Forms / Vogue 20” WS-3120-CH
  • Paint: Benjamin Moore / OC-57 White Heron throughout
  • Tile: Kitchen and ensuite backsplash: Olympia Tile / Colour and Dimension Glazed Wall Tile 4”x16” in Warm White Bright
  • Wallcovering: wall paper at master study / desk: ferm LIVING / Remix Geometric Wallpaper in ‘Blue #146’
  • Tile: Ensuite at bathtub: Ames Tile & Stone / Barrique BRQA1030, 10”x30” textured Ecotile in ‘ash’
  • Tile: Ensuite at shower: Ames Tile & Stone / Kronos KRPG1224, 12”x24” Ecotile, Semi-Polished in ‘grey’
  • Tile: Fireplace at suite: Ames Tile & Stone / Verse VERG1224, 12”x48” Ecotile, textured matte, in ‘grey’.

Project Overview:

  • Interior and exterior renovation, including addition of upper storey Master Suite
  • 2 780 SF house, completion 2017
  • Renovation of the iconic Vancouver Special. This particular house was a sub-type of the classic Vancouver Special, but almost as ubiquitous throughout Vancouver. It has a split-level entry with a double-height entrance, as well as a low-slope gabled roof.
  • Renovation of a single-family home to incorporate three generations within one house, with two independent, yet interconnected suites.
  • Japanese inspired design, as the homeowners are of Japanese descent. Design informed by a desire to modernize the outdated Vancouver Special, while celebrating what makes Vancouver Special’s wonderful.



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