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Customs House Marries Historic Architecture with Luxury Modern Finishes

Take a tour of this amazing new home opportunity in Victoria
By Michelle Hopkins Sep 18, 2020

Imagine being tasked with reimagining the interior of a landmark building (circa 1898) - one which has a rich history in Victoria harbour?

For Allisa Karvonen, interior designer/associate Insight Design Group Inc., transforming the interiors of Customs House was a unique and exciting project to be part of.

“It was definitely a one of a kind project…  almost all of the homes have a different floor plan, so we knew we’d have to develop a single design approach that would work for each unique home,” says Karvonen. “We loved this aspect of the project - that it wasn’t going to be a cookie cutter tower with a standard floor plate.” 

Customs House features a collection of 51 luxury contemporary condos, ranging from 519 to 4400 square feet, and features approximately 16,000 square feet of retail space at ground level, which will be home to high-end restaurants and boutique retail stores.

Customs House Victoria door

Drawing inspiration from historical research, the design team juxtaposed a modern aesthetic to add interest and a unique point of view, while keeping true to Customs House’s past. The results are stunning.

The heavy and elaborate interiors were given a facelift, resulting in lobbies and corridors that feel modern with a “nod” to period details, such as stone mosaics to create a classic, bold patterned floor for the lobbies.

“We also added traditional paneling details and an elaborate ceiling with moulding details,” Karvonen adds. “In the 1900’s these mouldings and ceilings would have likely been constructed in wood veneer however in our modern interpretation, we kept these white.” 

There are so many standouts, it’s hard to pinpoint just one. As kitchens are the heart of the home, a lot of thought went into creating elevated gourmet kitchens, boasting imported Italian cabinetry, simple back painted glass backsplash, flat panel doors free of hardware and Sub-Zero, and Wolf appliances.

“Both schemes feature islands finished in beautiful natural quartzite slab,” says Karvonen.

Customs House Victoria Kitchen image

In the master ensuites, the team selected a marble and glass mosaic tile for the feature finish for the wall behind the vanity. “While not as minimal as the other details or finishes, we liked that they give a bit of heritage feel to the ensuite,” she adds. However, the exposed brick walls and brick archways over the window openings, visible in the interior living spaces, provide the nod to the past.  

The way award-winning Insight Design Group balanced contemporary style with a period building has resulted in one of the most unique offerings of waterfront homes in the Inner Harbour that Victoria hasn’t seen, says Craig Anderson, marketing and sales director, Magnum Projects. 

“For me…it’s finding an interior level of finish and material that elevates both the homes in the Heritage wing and the new wing of the building,” says Anderson. “Insight Design Group was able to source Italian kitchen and bathroom cabinetry as well as Italian closet millwork that works seamlessly throughout the entire building.”

Act fast. There are only 10 residences left. For more information, visit, email [email protected], or call 250–590–9881. The Discovery Centre, located at 955 Wharf Street, is open by appointment only. 

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