– Story by Sean McIntyre Photography by Don Denton
Andi Hook grabs a sparkling water from the fridge ahead of our interview. The kitchen’s white cupboards and shimmering appliances surround a sprawling central island, lending the space an air of elegant spaciousness.
There’s even room for young River to play on the floor while Andi’s mother, Jude, takes a phone call across the room.
It’s unsurprising that Andi and her spouse Larry have created such a great kitchen for themselves. What is shocking is that we aren’t anywhere near the couple’s home. We’re at their office.
Granted, the warehouse setting along Sidney’s Mills Road and the sound of power tools from Larry’s workshop in the adjacent room betray the room’s true location, but business at Hook & Hook Renovations and Design has been hopping since the husband-and-wife team set up shop three years ago, making the office somewhat of a second home.
“We’ve lived in seven or eight places since leaving California in 2008, and we’ve felt totally accepted since we arrived here,” says Larry.
Displaying her eye for detail and knack for precision, Andi notes it hasn’t been quite that many places, but she concedes the young family definitely has a healthy wandering streak.
Andi moved to California, where her mother began a home-design business, soon after graduating from high school in the Lower Mainland. She fell into the business naturally and soon found herself studying interior design in New York. Soon after she returned to the West Coast to work in the family business, she ran into Larry on one of her projects.
“We’d hired him to do the cabinetry, and he never went away,” she says.
The connection was instant, and the pair artfully combined Andi’s penchant for design with Larry’s skills in carpentry and cabinetry to start a business that has since seen them renovate homes across the continent.
“We’re kind of like a one-stop shop,” he says.
Larry, clad in work clothes and obscured by several layers of sawdust, stands in stark contrast to Andi, who is elegant, gracious and impeccably dressed. The advantage of covering the extremes is that clients instinctively know who to turn to when they have questions to ask.
“They seek her out for design, and they automatically know I’m the contractor,” Larry says. “It makes people feel comfortable because they realize they’ve got all these tools and knowledge at their disposal.”
The couple opened Hook & Hook Renovations more than a decade ago on Prince Edward Island, where they began to specialize in the remodelling of historic homes as well as kitchen and bathroom renovations. With a newborn son in tow, the couple eventually decided to relocate closer to Andi’s mom, who had since moved north to the Saanich Peninsula. If that wasn’t enough of a reason, there was the alluring prospect of less snow, milder winters and fewer mosquitoes. The deciding factor, at least in Larry’s mind, was living a ferry ride from Seattle, home to his beloved Seattle Seahawks, a team his family has supported with religious-like zeal for generations.
“We’d decided early on that we weren’t going to settle easily, but I think we both now agree that Sidney is the spot for us,” Larry says.
“We’d like our son to grow up in the same spot and have some roots here,” Andi adds.
The couple has started renovating their own home in Sidney and a welcomed surge in business means the Hook family spends a lot of time at the office. Larry has crafted a ping-pong table and dart board in the workshop and young River already has his own little workbench set up near his dad.
“He’s got his own set of tools, and he can probably use a drill better than some of the guys I’ve hired,” Larry jokes. “I feel fortunate that he likes that kind of stuff, because I work a lot.”
In spite of the long workweeks, Andi and Larry appreciate the importance of setting aside time for the family. The Hooks enjoy hiking at Goldstream Park, Mt. Doug or nearby Horth Hill. If time is tight, they’ll pop out of the office to spend some time climbing on the rocks down at the seashore or a nearby park. Swimming lessons are every Wednesday, and the family tries to head out camping whenever the opportunity arises.
“I always find a way to incorporate myself into family life so they’re not left wondering where Larry is all the time,” he says.
Carving out that family time has been essential to maintaining a healthy and productive work life. As any spouses can imagine, working alongside one another in a stressful and emotion-filled sector like home renovations offers valuable lessons for married life.
“Communication is huge,” Andi says.
Talking things through with one another or with clients is also a large part of the business. Clients have varying levels of anxiety surrounding the building process and it’s crucial that elements on the design side correlate with the building phase. Having an idea of what’s ahead, talking things through and offering reassurances are important whether you’re talking to apprehensive homeowners or a tired partner.
“We’re able to blow things off super fast,” Larry says. “We are both stubborn and strong minded, but we’re both flexible. There hasn’t been an issue that we haven’t been able to iron out together.
“When I’m wrong, I’m wrong. She’s never wrong, so that’s all good.”
You can find Hook & Hook here.