Everything about this project was exciting. It was the first time one of her clients had built their own home, the lot was incredibly challenging and everyone involved seemed to share the same vision. The house sits at the top of a rock bluff that practically juts out into the woods and an adjacent creek. Because of the surrounding rocks and steep cliff down to the water and foliage from the trees, you feel like you’re in a tree house. Just not the kind of tree house you remember as a kid.
The other thing most of us recall from our early treehouse days was that it wasn’t particularly roomy. By no means is the Fir Tree Glen home small, but by many of today’s standards, it’s not huge either. Each room had to be carefully thought out since there really wasn’t any room to spare and function was a top priority. As well, most of the house along one side, is quite literally all windows. Floor to ceiling glass overlooks the woods and creek. With all this in mind, it was important to make sure the interiors didn’t interfere or distract from the architecture of the house, and there was careful consideration for the views and sight lines.
The intention was to make the house feel like an extension of the outside; it all had to be continuous. For that reason, Tonia selected mostly natural materials, light tones, and although modern in style, she still wanted the house to feel relatively timeless, era-less. She played with colour in key areas like backsplashes, bathrooms and decor, but kept a neutral tone throughout the house. Lighting was very important since most of the spaces are lit naturally during the day, but the windows would appear dark at night. Her clients were so encouraging and creative, they brought out the best in her abilities and allowed Tonia to experiment and discover new perspectives.
The house is quite narrow and designing rooms like a walk-though office had to be functional yet welcoming. This was achieved by designing a built-in desk and shelving along one wall and allowing for a wide enough walk-though space. As well, the stairs, which are a main focal point in the house, had to be carefully executed. It was extremely important to Tonia that the treads and railings were in sync with the rest of the house’s design because they are so open and visible. And due to the length of the main kitchen, dining and living room area, she wanted to create separation without blocking views. Tonia designed a long built-in wall/buffet that had some open shelving, lit, along with simple closed storage. The space feels useful and has room for the owner’s decorative items.
The majority of the house was designed in this way. Larger tiles were used in the bathroom because they are easier to clean, but also because the aesthetic was right too. Most of Tonia’s work has to have this symbiosis of function and design, and sometimes leaning more towards function, she concedes. Fir Tree Glen feels modern but warm, with personal touches and areas designed for family and play. It was designed to be enjoyed in each season, and is truly a home for living. And although this project was designed with her client in mind, it’s livability factor is high making it a perfect home for almost anyone.