All that glitters is gold in this classical residence in West Vancouver’s British Properties
You’ve heard the expression that every cloud has a silver lining? When designing an outstanding home on a less-than-favourable lot in West Vancouver, one designer took it to the next level and designed a home with a golden aura.
David Christopher of FX40 Design Corporation calls the resplendent residence, with its grand Classical proportions, “the Gold House.” The seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom, 10,350-square-foot modern-day palace imparts grandeur at every turn with antique gold Versace light sconces, golden-hued mother-of-pearl ceilings, glass elevator and hand-forged golden staircase.
“Gold is synonymous with royalty, and culturally, that’s important to the Chinese market,” says Christopher, whose design budget exceeded $90,000 for gold faucets alone.
The home’s Classical-meets-modern design was the perfect setting, he says, to bring gold back to the mainstream and “give the home a soul,” right down to sophisticated Louis XIV-style armchairs in a gold-leaf finish.
Given full creative license from the developer, Brontes Homes, to design a house on spec that would demand top dollar, Christopher says he was able to create a home befitting a king.
“You can’t help but feel like an emperor,” says Christopher, as he describes what it’s like to stand at the edge of the swimming pool’s travertine deck, 40 feet above street level. “The view is majestic — looking east to Mount Baker, there’s not a rooftop in sight, just forest expanding in all directions, and the sense that everything you see belongs to you.”
Selling last year for a reported $8.8 million, it “set a new high for redeveloped properties on the British Properties,” says listing agent Clarence Debelle of Royal Pacific Realty. “It sold in spite of the location and minimal view. That says a lot for the design and the builder.”
“Chinese buyers are very specific as to what they want. They want a view of downtown, a view of Stanley Park and a view of Lions Gate Bridge,” Debelle said.
Christopher worked wonders with the available elevation, and by configuring the home in an L-shape, the innovative floor plan provided unexpected views from the kitchen and living room.
Guests are greeted with pomp and circumstance at the entrance — white Carrara marble flooring and an eight-foot crystal chandelier cascading like a waterfall from the 20-foot ceiling articulated in mother-of-pearl tile.
Christopher had originally envisioned a gold-leaf inlay, but after seeing the iridescent shimmer from circles of mother-of-pearl in a downtown penthouse, he was convinced the exotic shell-like ornamentation would be even more magnificent. The decorative treatment was an impressive feat, says Christopher, akin to “the artistry of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.” A 19-foot scaffolding was built for installer Lori Haliburton, who lay on her back mere inches from the ceiling until the golden-hued mosaic was realized.
A European castle inspired Christopher’s grand staircase design, its risers clad in exotic Marron imperial marble, its railings hand-forged gold, and its steps leading to four exquisite master bedrooms.
One can’t deny that the one-year-old home feels as though it’s long had its place on King Georges Way, an admirable feat achieved by sourcing established cherry trees, yews and mature perennials. A sense of history is further realized by the home’s architectural profile — a nod to Classicism with curved pediments above the garage and classical pillars at the entry. Like the grand temples designed by the Greeks, limestone was the desired building material, yet through modern advancements the blocks are actually polystyrene foam, a new product manufactured locally in Abbotsford.
While “more expensive than stone,” the cementitious product “provides more finishing possibilities,” and is “less porous than limestone, so ideal for the West Coast.”
As Christopher leads the way to the basement — an underground fortress with 10-foot ceilings and decked out with smoking room, dance studio, spa, gym, home theatre and wine cellar, it’s evident he has the golden touch to design what sells in this hot real estate market.
“Traditionally, a lot of Chinese families would entertain outside of their home, but there’s a change — more Chinese are adopting a Western philosophy and entertaining in their home. I’m no longer designing houses, I’m designing mini resorts.
Photography by Video OpenHouse