A House Stands Sentinel Over Vancouver’s Panorama

On a quiet Vancouver street, atop a hill that rises above the city, is a home inspired by nature and artfully built.

Vancouver’s Sentinel House is surrounded by some of the city’s most coveted views. It is practically a glass house — light and open, with clear views to the horizon — anchored in the strength of its douglas fir framing.

Sometimes a home’s luxury isn’t confined to what’s inside. The luxury of Sentinel House is as much about the beauty that surrounds it as it is about the interior design. Built overlooking Vancouver’s English Bay and Burrard Inlet, Sentinel House’s 20-foot-tall glass walls and open floor plan provide 180-degree, uninterrupted cityscape and mountain views from every room in the house.

The house itself seems to gaze serenely like a sentinel across the city and the bay.

Its 4,300-square-foot interior is overflowing with luxury elements as well — features crafted with expertise, made from clear douglas fir, laminated cedar, quartz, and natural stone. These elements complement each other in an understated way rather than competing for attention, thus creating an overall refined ambience.

The owner started with an oddly shaped corner lot on a quiet street atop Sentinel Hill. He wanted to create a home perfect for himself, his wife, and his young child, including a quiet office with privacy and distance from the main activity of the household, a living room with a full panorama for stargazing, and rooms for his family’s hobbies.

One day as he was driving, a house grabbed his attention. Its design was outstanding. He pulled over and knocked on the door to ask the owner who had designed it. That’s how he first heard of Todd Best of Best Builders, whom he hired to create Sentinel House.

Best says his work on Sentinel House gave him a good opportunity to problem-solve and customize, two aspects of his job that he loves. “This property was topographically challenging and pie-shaped,” Best says. “A lot of people tell us, ‘This can’t be done, this can’t be built.’ Those are the [kinds of projects] we love.”

When you pull up to Sentinel House, the narrative of its nature-loving inhabitants begins. The entranceway features an exaggerated soffit, rain chains, and a garden of hypo-allergenic plants.

“You want [the entrance] to be warm, very inviting, well protected by the overhang,” Best says. “The driveway and hedgework, even the landscaping, everything focuses on the front door. It builds anticipation.”

Once inside, the floor-to-ceiling glass and open concept has a powerful impact. The dining room, kitchen, and living room flow into each other and arc along an expansive outdoor veranda. Fir lines the coffered ceilings, which are backlit with LED track-lighting that allows for the illumination of “rooms” individually; this provides a soft separation between the spaces even though there are no walls dividing them.

The 20-foot-tall windows that encase most of the house are shaded by 3-foot exterior soffits of clear douglas fir. Because the soffits provide shading, there’s no need to draw the blinds even when it’s very sunny, allowing for the uninterrupted enjoyment of the landscape. But with all the windows, the interior also has plenty of natural light, making artificial lights unnecessary until sunset.

Rain chains anchor the overhangs and function elegantly in place of gutters, while protecting against Vancouver’s frequent rains.

Aside from the open main floor, Best built three bedrooms (one used as an office), two bathrooms, a fitness room, and a sauna. The master bedroom blends different natural woods, with cherry flooring alongside the fir millwork that ties into the rest of the house.

The details of the master bath epitomize the artisanal craftsmanship throughout the home. The shower is made of large quartz slabs for seamless walls. Small windows near the ceiling and an open space above the frosted glass doors allow natural light into the shower.

“[I want to build] something unique, special, something that will last. I will drive by homes I built 20 years ago and still be proud,” Best says. “I want to build art.”

Photography by Ema Peter Photography