Todd Talbot’s refurbished Lions Bay home provides a light-filled sanctuary for the TV star and his family, with glorious views to boot. —Fiona Forbes
A forty-minute cruise up the Sea to Sky highway, just past West Vancouver, brings us to the exclusive community of Lions Bay where the winding roads take us past a row of homes perched high up on the cliff in this quiet neighbourhood that overlooks Howe Sound. A short walk down a steep driveway and we’re at Todd Talbot’s front door where he greets us, looking attractively mussed and boyish in jeans, a t-shirt and socks, and invites us into his bright West Coast contemporary home.
Many know Todd from his wildly successful gig on Love It or List It—and his gregarious TV persona is even more charming and vivacious in real life. As he gives us the grand tour, he tells me that he and his wife, Rebecca, an actress whom he met while rehearsing for West Side Story at Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre in 2002, chose this property for its inspiring architecture. Built in 1973, the arched A frame Pan-Abode had been on the market for a while before the couple, who say it was love at first viewing, purchased it in 2010.
Along with the unique architecture, it was the spectacular views that sold them on the property. With floor-to-ceiling windows and west-facing wraparound patios on both floors, the sparkling waters of Howe Sound as well as Gambier, Bowyer and Bowen Islands are visible from every room in the house. “At night, I love sitting in bed watching the ferries pass by all lit up,” says the 43-year-old actor and real estate agent, who sells homes with Blu Realty.
When asked why he chose to rebuild rather than tear down the home where he and his wife are raising their two children, seven-year-old Ashlyn, and five-year-old Kesler, he says it was “naiveté,” with a laugh. A successful real estate investor for years before the family’s Lions Bay purchase, Todd says his first instinct is generally to maximize the potential of a property (ironically a view very different from that in his role on Love It or List It).
With this home, he and Rebecca wanted to retain the beauty of the architecturally rare, and difficult-to-replicate, barrel detail of the ceiling. Throughout the renovation, they aimed to salvage as much material as possible, cutting open windows in the cedar structure and keeping that cedar to mill down into other things around the home. “I sanded every piece of wood and laid every inch of it in this house. My knees will never be the same,” he smiles.
Along with a passion for creating a unique and comfortable sanctuary for his family, Todd’s commitment to sustainability is also what inspired his decision to renovate instead of start anew. His years in real estate have opened his eyes to the impact of the housing industry on the environment. There’s technology that allows us to build homes that are much more sustainable, he notes, but most people are just unaware of the resources available to them. "Being a father of two young kids, looking down the line at what we're leaving them with, I think it’s important to be very aware of what we’re doing around the home," he says. “Sustainability isn’t just about environmental impact, it’s about the space we live in … There’s no good reason for a lot of tear-downs.” Todd gets excited when he tells us about his next project: to design and build an urban family home that is less than 2,000 square-feet and uses the best sustainable technology available.
As we set up our camera shot in the living room, which separates Todd's open concept kitchen from the French doors that open out onto the terrace overlooking Howe Sound, before we know it Todd is drawing on his years of training in theatre school, hanging with one hand off of the cedar beam in the arched ceiling (“I sanded them myself!”, he tells us, midair). A quick change into a tuxedo, and the next thing we know Todd is leaping onto the kitchen island’s Caesarstone countertop in Misty Carrera, mugging for the lens and juggling a few apples in his dapper, elegant way. Knowing it’s Living’s Green issue, he eagerly offers to climb one of the giant evergreen trees adorning his property … an idea we have to kibosh (it’s not the day to lose one of Canada’s most loved TV stars!).
We wander up to the office, (“it’s where I go for Todd time,” he says) where the shelves are lined with books on real estate investing, some children’s hardcovers, and a handful of nostalgic family pieces. Sitting on the cedar desk he made himself, he proudly points out the tiny ski boots and skis he wore as a child and a stereo originally owned by his grandfather, which he’s converted into a bar. Once again, we’re all in awe of the stunning view—this is the reason people live in West Vancouver.
When asked what his biggest splurge was on the home, Todd says there’s no question it is his master bedroom ensuite. To honour the room, with its Waterworks stone door fronts and custom Chinese Elm counter tops, he offers to take a quick shower—all while donning one of his Strellson suits. Rebecca gladly volunteers to turn on the shower to douse her husband as the cameras click away.
As we wrap up, the sun is setting and the children are happily sitting at the kitchen island counter, gluing beads onto headbands for an arts and crafts project, while Rebecca is chopping tomatoes and grating cheese for homemade pizzas. They will enjoy the meal with Todd at the reclaimed wood table under the bespoke wooden light fixture, handmade by the East Vancouver couple behind Propellor.
It’s time for Todd to get back to doing what he looked most forward to when renovating his family's home—creating beautiful memories with his wife and children.