A historic Uplands family home is the backdrop for a Hanukkah celebration filled with music, food, family and the menorah
"It is a place for family, food and fun," says homeowner Catherine Lupin with a laugh as she describes her newly renovated, three-storey Edwardian home located in Victoria’s Uplands neighbourhood.
When it comes to the holidays, most of the family’s traditions revolve around cooking and keeping alive the traditions central to Judaism.
"We love to entertain and feed a crowd. Most of our waking hours are spent in the kitchen," says Catherine, a cardiology nurse who moved to Victoria from Vancouver in 1998 along with her dermatologist and neurologist husband, Mark, to co-found Cosmedica Laser Centre.
The menorah is a focal point of Hanukkah decor. (Image: Jo-Ann Richards)
In the kitchen, Carrara marble countertops grace clean, crisp-white cabinetry. Picturesque wood-casement windows overlook the English boxwood and perennial garden, which keeps much of its beauty even through the winter months. A large, six-burner, stainless-steel Viking stove is located across from an oversized island outfitted with white-wood stools.
During the holidays, both Catherine and her daughter, Olivia, age 12, can often be found buzzing around the island in their vintage aprons preparing meals and snacks for family and friends.
A walnut dining room table located in the kitchen serves both formal and informal dinners and keeps the family close at hand.
“Because it isn’t tucked away in some separate room, I really get the feel of being part of dinner even if I am slaving away in the kitchen,” says Catherine.
The house is tastefully decorated in turquoise blue and white with a large hydrangea floral arrangement in the foyer. Silver vases, a menorah and selection of miniature dreidels are artfully displayed on the formal dining table.
A pop of fushia adds bright details to this open-concept living room. (Image: Jo-Ann Richards)
Catherine and Mark bought the historical home 10 years ago and immediately began to envision their future renovation. The tiny cramped kitchen didn’t suit their lifestyle and they needed more space. Although the footprint of the house didn’t change, the home underwent a massive transformation. The entire structure was lifted to add a garden-level floor, which serves as a central hub for their three children, ages 10, 12 and 15, complete with a theatre, games room, three extra bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The main floor of the home was completely opened up and refreshed with a new open-concept kitchen, dining and living room plus conservatory.
The couple preserved the heritage of the original home by retaining major architectural and decorative features such as the original staircase and leaded stained-glass window that serves as a focal point of the home.
(Left) Formal dinner settings with turquoise accents and crystal goblets makes a sophisticated statement. (Right) Cocktail hour is served in high style. (Images: Jo-Ann Richards)
The dark and dingy attic space was completely redone to include a spacious master suite. And although the homeowners kept the original patio over the port-cochère, or covered pass through for cars and carriages, it now serves as a peaceful place to enjoy a late night glass of wine.
"The house was built by a bachelor and he had his large billiards room with balcony for smoking cigars where our master bedroom now is," says Mark.
Two of the kids’ bedrooms are also located on the third floor. In the winter months, a peek-a-boo ocean view is at its most stunning when the garden’s Garry oak trees have lost their leaves.
One of the couple’s favourite rooms is the conservatory, located on the east side of the house off the dining room.
Mark, who is also an international concert violinist and current concertmaster of the World Doctors Orchestra, is happiest when relaxing with his violin.
The sound of music can be heard in the conservatory, a family-favourite room. (Image: Jo-Ann Richards)
"The kids, Mark and my mother-in-law can often be found holding impromptu wine and cheese concerts there for neighbours on rainy winter nights," says Catherine. "I wanted one big open main floor so I could be cooking and hear the kids practising their instruments."
The conservatory, bright and airy even on the darkest winter days, is large enough to house a concert grand piano, cello, an assortment of violins and a harp. As the sun goes down and the menorah is lit in preparation for a family celebration, the couple shares a silent smile. It is nice to be home for Hanukkah.