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House Beautiful: An artist eye for decor to the max

An eclectic home, clothed in vibrant colours and deep textures, sets a dramatic stage as one of the stars of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s online-only house tour

Forget minimalism.

The owner of this home is an uncompromising and unabashed maximalist.

She doesn’t bow to the modern trend of decorating with beige, taupe or pallid pastels, and has no use for subtle patterns and vast, empty surfaces.

Bev Kallstrom is a woman of exuberant eclecticism who revels in mixing vivid colours with deep textures, flamboyant design and a dash of drama.

She speaks the language of theatre and several aspects of her house are like stage sets, from the miniature knight who guards a staircase beside the painting of an archer with bow fully drawn, to a parade of crow flags flying in her upstairs yoga studio.

She likes to take visitors to unexpected places, like a tiny Juliette balcony off the kitchen nook that overlooks a trellis-framed courtyard, or up a steep and narrow staircase that used to lead to maids’ attic quarters.

Kallstrom’s taste suits her Arts & Crafts style home that was built in 1913 and is currently being featured on the Art Gallery house tour.

It was constructed by Thomas Catterall & Company, the man who also built Hatley Park Castle, and for the past 30 years she has been gradually improving and updating, with the help of Castle Building Supplies.

She notes that none of the changes were major, except moving one wall, and her previous career in project management and teamwork was an asset.

“Bespoke Design helped me pick colours for re-painting, although I’m not quite finished implementation. Sawmill Sales Direct provided the wood for the fencing and trellises and my friend and artist Maryan Meek sewed drapes in the dining room and also did some painting for me.”

Most of her furniture was found at Applewood Antiques, Surroundings, Good Things Consignments and Chintz & Company, and much of her art has been enhanced by Prestige Framing. She also sewed many of the drapes herself.

Every inch of the house reflects her personality and joi de vivre.

She has collected the works of more than 65 B.C. artists and brought scores of objets home from travels to favourite sites in Egypt, Cyprus, Italy, France, Majorca and Portugal.

“I like to play around with pieces and I spend a lot of time fluffing stuff, creating vignettes.… After a while, if everything stays the same, you stop noticing things — which is why I move things around and rearrange a lot.

“I like ceramics and I’m a cushion person,” said the cheerful homeowner, as she pointed to a bright velvet Alexander McQueen one she recently brought home from Australia.

“I love layers, lots of rugs, mixing styles, finding old furniture and reupholstering it, and I’m very fond of carving, inlay, all kinds of old style workmanship.”

Originally from Ontario, she grew up in a very traditional home with a mother who was very original, classy and a great decorator.

“On the second floor of our house, my mother had a big planter and one day she put a fountain in it,” which used to bemuse visitors who never failed to wonder why they could hear the sound of water running.

Kallstrom, who is former chair of the Gallery Associates, worked as a project manager for Michael Williams and then for B.C. Building Corp. during in her career.

She believes, “What you nurture, nurtures you” and cites gardening as the perfect example of this truth.

“You think you are taking care of it, but it is actually looking after you,” and so it is with her century old house which gives her so much pleasure as she cares for it.

“I love so many things about it…. the mouldings, the size of the rooms, the traditional central hallway, the history… and the fact is has always had so much potential.”


WHAT: Greater Victoria house tour (online)

WHEN: October 1 to January 31, 2024

WHERE: Five owner-hosted homes, gardens and personal art collections

TICKETS: $35. More information at or call 250-384-4171.

NOTE: This is an online tour via professionally-filmed videos, titled Art Meets Architecture

This year’s tour features five homes and instead of seeing them in person — and having to drive, park and lineup — guests are invited to explore them online, with the owners giving guided tours.

Tour goers can return to the houses as often as they like, from now until January 31, and they are an eclectic mix of contemporary and historic design, and inspiring fine art.

“For lovers of architecture, art, collectibles, as well as home and garden design, the distinctive homes on this 2023 tour are a treat,” said house committee chair Carol Anne Harper.

“Each is as unique as their charming owners who have refurbished and styled their homes as well as collected remarkable art with incredible attention, creativity and love.”

She added it’s increasingly important these days to support AGGV exhibitions and educational programs.

One of the homes was originally an historic church that was moved from its previous location, and the others include a strata home on a bluff, offering stunning views; a contemporary home set in the countryside; and an art filled home overlooking a garden of both native and cultivated plantings fully integrated with the natural landscape.

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