In 2001, an entrepreneurial couple from the quaint Qualicum Beach area moved to a 6000-square-foot, Samuel Maclure heritage house in Oak Bay where they would eventually host their childrens’ weddings in the lush garden. As much as they loved the style and craftsmanship of their heritage home, remaining in the manse on an expansive property was unrealistic for this creative couple.
A lower maintenance modern dwelling seemed like an alluring alternative to transition the couple into their next chapter. Locating the perfect lot one day while out for a walk, the rest is history. Designed by Rus Collins of Zebra Group and built by Christopher Walker of Christopher Developments, the result is 4200-square-feet of contemporary architecture where a modern interior meets the comforts of a relaxed west coast dwelling.
Tasked with the challenge of designing a modern home that would preserve the existing streetscape in the established neighbourhood, Collins fashioned a relatively traditional facade with a surprisingly modern interior. The design intent was to create an open concept with an abundance of windows and transitions to create a dialogue with the outdoors. Accentuating the home’s vaulted ceilings and ensuring the main floor would be drenched in natural light, Collins designed a pyramid articulation of square windows on the rear elevation.
After living in their previous home for over a decade, the couple knew exactly what they wanted for their new dwelling and credit Lorin Turner of Zebra Group with material selections, millwork and cabinetry designs. Their complete wishlist included a large open concept kitchen/dining/living area, master bedroom and office on the main floor, a separate guest area with two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs, a mud room, an art studio, meditation room, wine room and a media room.
Creating a fresh take on a west coast contemporary aesthetic, Turner’s goal was to devise a modern backdrop for the homeowner’s vibrant art collection. To keep the open plan with gallery-white walls from feeling too vast, Turner worked her magic with wood and natural materials to bring a warmth and comfort to the airy space. The jumping off point for the overall design was the tile flooring and the sleek three-sided DaVinci fireplace.
Adding asymmetrical interest to the main living area, the DaVinci fireplace was sourced from Washington by the homeowners. “The fireplace proved to be a design challenge in the open concept with the guidelines stating that it had to be visually appealing from all angles, yet not overly imposing to detract from the beautiful window detail,” states Turner. Turner chose a clean, lightly textured Neolith product in Timber Ice for the fireplace surround and a complementary paint colour for the panels above. “The wood boxed beams add detail to the vaulted ceiling but the clean lines keep the effect modern, not rustic.”
“In order to create an inviting and accessible feel, I sourced textural materials with a matte finish that would inject depth and warmth into the modern aesthetic.” For a sense of rhythm and flow, Turner limited the colour palette and repeated materials and millwork details (such as the ½ inch reveal on the fireplace and columns in the kitchen) throughout the home.
A built-in niche above the fireplace keeps the tv accessible, yet unobtrusive.
The hardworking eat-in island with quartz countertop comfortably seats five, offers plenty of storage and a functional work triangle with prep sink. Over the island, Aplomb suspension pendant lights by Foscarini are made from a concrete amalgam and echo the grey tones of the backsplash and tile flooring.
Flat slab douglas fir on the lower cabinets anchors the open kitchen while the white uppers keep the look fresh and modern. Open shelving offers convenience with a dash of west coast casual.
A naturally lit corner juice bar with open shelving completes this chef’s kitchen. A warm grey mosaic tile backsplash in a driftwood series complements the grey quartz countertop bringing a timeless element to the kitchen.
The homeowners knew they didn’t want hardwood floors on the main level and were seeking a more durable surface to complement indoor/outdoor living. Because of the open concept, Turner sourced a large format (to minimize grout lines) matte finish porcelain tile from the concrete series.
Tempering the angular architecture and maintaining sight lines, a stunning circular suspension light hangs elegantly over the dining table.
Floor to ceiling windows allow natural light to permeate the principal bedroom while double doors, bordered in douglas fir, create a seamless transition to the patio.
Continuing the open concept, an unconventional glass door to the ensuite keeps the feeling light while the bathroom’s functional layout maintains privacy.
A showstopping floating staircase amplifies the home’s breezy feel and creates a sense of weightlessness with glass panels and beautiful wood treads. Repetition of the stacked square windows with reveals becomes a beautiful focal point and speaks to the home’s harmonious flow.
The pièce de résistance is the light-filled art studio Collins designed on the lower level with a private patio. “For my studio, Chris custom designed a glass-topped work table with wheels so that I can move the table easily if I need to. I have a storage area in a separate room for canvases which adjoins my husband’s workshop.”
A master at designing facades that retain a neighbourhood’s vernacular, Collins has honed his architectural approach of creating unassuming facades so that the main living area can interact freely with the landscape while still prioritizing privacy. Creating livable homes with unique features, Collins’ designs are a response to the homeowner’s lifestyle and always capture the essence of the location. “Our home is spacious, bright and comfortable,” says the homeowner, “we couldn’t be happier.”