At night when the light glows from this nautically-inspired home in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood, passersby can’t help being drawn to it. Perhaps it’s because the many transom windows make it resemble a lantern, while during the day sunshine pours inside creating a bright, happy setting for its owners.
“We’ve gotten used to people standing on the driveway or sidewalk and looking at our house,” says Mom in this family of three young boys. “Recently there was someone taking pictures of our chimney.” Her husband, a high-tech exec, adds “it’s so well appointed and designed; extremely sophisticated, yet an understated type of architecture. We aren’t showy. This place has high-end design and construction but feels welcoming.”
This 6,500 sq.-ft. new build was carefully executed over a five-year period by noted West Coast architect Peter Rose, who explained that his clients didn’t give him magazine tears or photos of their dream home. “Instead they said they wanted something modern on the interior, but very traditional on the exterior,” notes Rose. “Although this property doesn’t have an ocean view, it definitely makes the most of the forested area and overlooks a spectacular garden.”
That is one of the triumphs of Rose’s design. The hearty stone and shingle exterior, with its swooping “eyebrow” rooflines over the entrance and windows, is a classic facade that you would easily find in the northeastern U.S., particularly around Nantucket. It references the low-slung Prairie Style as well. But instead of cramped, boxy bungalow rooms, there are high barrel-vaulted ceilings which stretch up to the second storey. Transom windows above every door are a gateway to the sun, and open-concept spaces perfectly mirror how contemporary families gather and interact.
“Every sightline was carefully calibrated,” Rose remarks. The rooms not only flow easily from one to another, they tend to frame a special view.” Rose kept the use of natural materials consistent throughout to maximize a sense of warmth. Walnut flooring finished in tung oil has a soft lustre, while limestone tiles in the kitchen and family area and granite counters are a nod to the rugged coastal character of B.C.. One of the most striking elements is the use of millwork throughout the home. “The owners were very well read and well travelled, there are lots of bookshelves and display areas for art,” Rose observes.
Rose’s favourite room by far is the family room wrapped in glass NanaWalls that accordion open and closed. Being inside this room is like sitting out in the garden, effectively blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors. Another effective use of glazing is on the second floor balcony, where frameless glass railings don’t obscure the view to the garden below for a completely modern touch.
“There is an outdoor area at the front of the house that’s covered by a canopy so I can sit under it with my sons and watch the moon, catch the early morning sun, or a warm rain. It’s very special,” says the homeowner.
Rose agrees. “There is just something about this house that people find so appealing. It’s architecturally impressive, without being intimidating.”