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Sarah Gallop


First Impressions – West Coast Homes + Design

Just a few changes to the exterior can add character and interest to a house.


Curb Appeal. It’s a term that is used often in the real estate world – that first impression that passersby make, often affecting the sale of a home. Good curb appeal is desirable not only for people selling a home, but also for those planning to stay for a long time.

Small changes to the roofline improved the curb appeal of the house

These homeowners wanted to add some character and interest to the front of their home, while simplifying the yard maintenance.

The home is a Cape Cod style with a high pitched roof and dormers. The current yard is heavily landscaped and blocks most of the first floor of the house from view. The only part of the first floor clearly visible from the street is the garage door, which in its current state is quite ordinary and not much of a feature. Removing some of the plantings will allow a better view of the house from the street. It will also create an easier yard to maintain.

A front porch offers a shady place to sit and adds interest to the façade

It’s quite easy to make substantial impact with a colour change to the exterior of a home. In this case, the baby blue needed to go, but another bright colour did not make sense given the style of the home. A soft grey was chosen to update the look but stay within the architectural style.

This style of home also suits additional detailing. Decorative elements are added to the home to enhance its overall appearance. As the homeowners mentioned their roof was reaching the end of its life, the opportunity to make some small changes to the roofline to improve the curb appeal is possible.

The homeowners also wanted to simplify maintenance of the garden

A front porch could be added to bring interest to the front façade, as well as give some protection to the front window and a shady place to sit on a sunny day. Porches add character almost instantly as they are reminiscent of a time where parents would sit and enjoy refreshing lemonade on a hot summer day while their children played in the yard.

It’s easy to make a substantial impact with a colour change to the exterior

The gable over the garage is quite large and overbearing given the scale of the smaller two, so it would be nice to extend the overhang and create a window seat on the upper floor. This allows the face to be broken up, and interest to be added with some decorative brackets. With the overhang extension there is room for architectural lighting to be added in the soffit. This will allow certain elements of the home to be highlighted at night, as well as during the day.

Shutters are added to all of the windows, which visually change the scale of proportion. They bring some detail to the front and fill up the otherwise plain face. The shutters are painted in a contrasting colour to draw the eye. The garage doors have been changed to a style with more detail and character. A decorative trellis is added above the garage and front door. Some non-invasive trailing greenery could be added to this trellis as well, to soften the hard lines.

Curb appeal can be achieved in many ways, from a colour change to adding detailing for more interest and character. The changes do not have to be significant or costly to have big impact, so get creative!

Green With Envy

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Nominated for 5 2013 CHBABC Georgie Awards and 5 2014 GVHBA Ovations Awards.  The beauty and elegance of this home was not overlooked by the building and renovating community.

Want to see more, check out our Houzz page for more of this home:


Built by the team at Spire Development.

2013 Ovation Awards

The finalists for the 2013 GVHBA Ovation Awards were announced recently – and we are thrilled to have 9 finalists in 8 categories!

Our finalists are:

Best Renovation: $500,000 – $799,999 ‘Green with Envy’


Best Outdoor Living Space ‘Green with Envy’

Best Exterior Reno ‘Green with Envy’


Best Kitchen Renovation: $50,000 – $99,999 ‘Green with Envy’



Best Renovated Room ‘Green with Envy’


Interior Design Custom Residence ‘Reviving the 70′s’


Best Renovation: $300,000 – $499,999 ‘Reviving the 70′s’


Best Outdoor Living Space ‘Reviving the 70′s’


Best Kitchen/Great Room ‘Reviving the 70′s’



The winners will be announced at the gala on April 26th!

Outdoor Living

Check out the latest ‘Design Dilemma’ column






The ‘Before”….






The concept….








As the days become longer and signs of spring start appearing, many homeowners look into their dismal backyards and long for a time when they will be lush and enjoyable again. Now is the perfect time to start planning your outdoor space so it will be ready to enjoy this summer.

Many homeowners are looking for connected indoor/outdoor living spaces, and these Ladner homeowners are no exception. They have a large uncovered brick patio and a portable BBQ, but are looking for a covered area that will allow them to enjoy their yard in the spring and fall – not just in the summer months.

Creating a covered built in BBQ area that is attached to the house and easily accessible from their main indoor living area will allow them to use the BBQ year round.

As their detached shed was in the plans to be removed, extending the roofline of their family room allows the covered area to blend seamlessly with the existing house. This also gives more coverage over the back patio door and creates enough width for the new built in BBQ to be fully covered.

Creating the new covered dining area off to the side of the yard allows for the existing patio area to be used as a lounge type entertaining space. It also allows for the patio to take advantage of the sun. A natural gas fire pit coffee table would be added to this lounge space for warmth on cooler nights.

Gas patio heaters would be added under the new covered dining area, as well, a 2 sided gas fireplace could be added between the existing family room and the new outdoor dining room.

Lighting would also be added in the soffit of the dining area in the form of potlights and a pendant over the table. Skylights would be installed for natural light during the day.

Low level landscape lighting would be added around the existing patio to provide soft lighting in the evening and to define the patio and garden areas.

Creating different outdoor ‘rooms’ allows for great outdoor entertaining in many seasons. A combination of covered and uncovered areas with heating and lighting allow for comfortable enjoyment and lots of flexibility. To make the most of your backyard this summer, be sure to plan early for maximum enjoyment.


Original article can be seen here


Open Concept Living

The latest West Coast Homes + Design Magazine is out and you can catch Sarah’s latest ‘House Call’ article by picking one up or reading it here :)

West Coast Homes + Design Magazine


A fresh design connects the kitchen to the dining room and opens up both to the new great room

This typical side split needed a new outlook. The homeowner has dreamed of an open concept home that would connect the heavily used kitchen to a great room but felt it was impossible with her house layout. Chances are you’ve been in a home just like this one – come in the front door, up a few steps and the living room, dining room, kitchen and nook occupy the middle level. Off the kitchen/nook there are a few steps down to the family room.

The challenge that is faced by many homeowners with this layout is that it seems impossible to get the desired open-concept great room with the three or four stairs acting as such a barrier between the kitchen and family room. In many homes the living room and dining room are large spaces that are rarely used – perhaps a few times a year for holiday dinners. The rest of the year, families squish around the kitchen table for daily meals. Why not create a floor plan that allows these underutilized spaces to be used year round?

Taking down the two walls that separate the kitchen and nook from the living and dining room allows a great room to be created on the middle level of this home. The family room on the lower floor could be used as a kids’ play area or a games room, while the main family living and entertaining could be connected on the main level.

With the dining room open to the kitchen there is adequate space for this table to be used on a daily basis, which allows for the kitchen to extend into the previous nook space, creating a large, open kitchen. The range and hood are relocated to the exterior wall, flanked by two large windows allowing lots of natural light into the cooking space. Locating the hood fan on the exterior wall makes the new venting easy.

The sink is located on the adjacent wall to allow the dishwasher to be beside it, with ample storage for dishes right above. The fridge has cabinet panels on the doors and drawers to fully integrate it with the perimeter cabinets. This allows for seamless flow and allows the fridge to disappear into the cabinetry, which is more important now that the kitchen is open to the rest of the floor.

Locating the appliances on the perimeter of the kitchen leaves the large island surface clear of any appliances or fixture – perfect for preparation of food and entertaining. Including a space for stools at the island allows guests to be part of the action but out of the cook’s way. The island is anchored by a decorative column hiding a structural post. The column is integrated with the overall room design by the decorative trim covering the beams, and a second column beside the stairs to the upper floor.

A large patio door connects the kitchen to a barbecue deck off the dining room and a buffet can be built into the hutch recess for table linens and serving dishes. The new great room accommodates a large seating group around the fireplace and TV hidden in millwork flanking the fireplace. Removing the two walls and reorienting the kitchen to create a great room allows this family to stay in their home longer, as it now functions for the way a modern-day family uses it.

BC Home + Garden Show 2014

Well, it was a whirlwind week at the BC Home + Garden show last week. Our first time as an exhibitor and it was a lot of fun.

Here is the booth as it progressed….

photo 1

Working late into the night to get the walls built!

photo 2










All ready for opening day – Wednesday @ 4pm


On the HGTV Main Stage at the BC Home + Garden Show 2014

On the HGTV Main Stage at the BC Home + Garden Show 2014













Thursday, Saturday and Sunday Sarah presented on the HGTV Main Stage “Design Tips for Renovations + New Construction’


We have some amazing followers – including one that brought this newspaper clipping into the booth…

and one who emailed us a photo of Sarah during her interview on CTV!


It was an amazing week between manning the booth, discussing projects, answering design questions, 3 stage presentations,  TV Radio + Magazine interviews, and signing a few autographs. We all had a great time and are looking forward to starting some amazing projects with some fabulous clients.


From all of us at SGDI – thanks for coming to visit us, we hope to see you at the next show!

Converting Cold to Cozy

There is nothing better than curling up beside a cozy fireplace as the weather turns cold outside. Here is the latest edition of ‘House Call’,  Sarah’s column that is featured in Westcoast Homes + Design Magazine.




As the weather turns colder there is nothing better than cosying up next to a warm fireplace. For this homeowner, however, the family room was feeling anything but cosy. With the cold tile floors and a bland monochromatic colour scheme, this room was screaming for colour and interest.

Removing the dark horizontal lines of the current mantel and ceiling beams helps to change the proportion of the room. With the ceiling colour spilling over on to the top portion of the wall, the room appears short and squat. Small elements like this can make a room feel uncomfortable, so removing them is important to create a cosy space.

This is a perfect space for the family to enjoy as the weather turns colder.

Taking the wall colour to the ceiling line makes the room feel taller. Adding crown moulding maintains some interest on the ceiling but removes the contrast that the wood beams had, which pulled the eye up.

The family room ‘Before’

Creating three equal size sections on the fireplace wall introduces vertical repetition and makes the room feel taller. To give the fireplace wall more focus and presence a floor-to-ceiling built-in could be added on each side, providing storage and display space. The fireplace is defined with a white mantel and marble surround with a large scale piece of artwork above.

The TV is moved to the opposite side of the fireplace and placed within the built-in – on an adjustable pullout arm. This allows the furniture to be rearranged, opening up the sightline into this space. The sofa is moved to the exterior wall, and a comfy chair and ottoman is added in the corner created by the adjacent room.

DVD and games storage is provided at the bottom of the built-in behind closed doors, while the middle portion is open to keep books, family photos and treasures.

Additional lighting in the form of pot lights and a central ceiling fixture help to brighten up the room and improve the functionality by providing both task and ambient lighting. The ceiling fixture also adds some sparkle and reflection in the family room. Medium tone hardwood flooring replaces the cold floor tile and an earthy area rug anchors the seating group.

A new neutral sofa with chaise end provides comfy seating for watching TV or visiting with friends, and colour is added through accent pillows and throws. This allows the accents to be changed seasonally if desired. The coffee table with a developed patina has an old world quality, and adds a weathered reflective aspect to the room.

Placing tall artwork on the large blank wall to the right helps add height to the room and balances the proportion of the built-ins. This is also a great opportunity to add more colour to the room.

With these changes, this room transforms into a space that is warm and inviting; a perfect space for the family to enjoy as the weather turns colder. All that’s needed now is a plate of shortbread, a mug of hot chocolate and a good holiday movie.



If you are interested in having your space featured in an upcoming issue of West Coast Homes + Design with a design solution provided by the team at SGDI please email your problem space with a description to housecall@sarahgallop.com


Time for Holiday decorating!

Well, its that time of year! the Christmas season is upon us. Its the time to spiffy up your home for guests and light up the yard for your neighbours enjoyment.

This year we had one of our favorite clients ask us to decorate his newly renovated home for the holidays. We were all very excited with this request and didn’t want to do the same old typical Christmas decor you see in lots of houses.

We wanted something subtle and classic and ended up with a Woodland Christmas theme. Have a peek at the progress shots below :)







And the SGDI elves warming back up by the fireplace after working on the outside!

We hope that you enjoy this time of year with family and friends and that you are able to find inspiration in the most unsuspecting things!

From all of us at SGDI – Happy Holidays!

Reno Me Winner announced!

The winners in the Reno ME with Fortis BC contest have been announced and our outdoor living space design has won the contestant $10,000!


Huge congratulations to Melissa Tolsma of Nanaimo – I hope you have many year of enjoyment in your new backyard. Next time I am in your area I will be stopping by for a drink!


Thanks to Fortis, Black Press and all of the participants. We had lots of fun!