Armed with decades worth of Architectural Digest magazines, the homeowners had been gathering design inspiration for years when they hired architect, Brian Morris of Brian T.W. Morris Architect to design their custom, Cape-Cod style home. Considering the state of the rundown bungalow on the property, the owners knew they had to build new and even visited the East Coast to nail down some of the design’s finer details. Built by Griffin Properties, the home is a fresh take on a timeless style that bridges modern elements with traditional charm.
“We didn’t want a design that stood out from the existing neighbourhood and had a vision of a home that looked like it belonged at the beach,” says the homeowner, who adds that they interviewed several architects and after viewing their projects, felt Morris would be the best fit. After an in-depth communication design consult process, Morris drew up plans and the homeowners made one minor change to the first draft.
“The home is on an archeological site so we wanted to minimize the impact on the area,” says Morris, who adds that the new home was built in the same footprint as the original except for a 15×20 foot space that helped capture the views and more natural light. “I do a lot of drawings, not only architectural plans but also interior drawings. I plan all of the home’s features, right down to the electrical. Detailed plans allow the build to proceed smoothly and avoid delays along the way. My aim is to make it easy for the contractor to stay on budget and within timelines.”
The inspiration for the home’s facade was an east coast shingle-style look which evolved naturally from the neighbourhood. Cedar shingles washed in driftwood grey adorn traditional gables and dormers while overhanging eaves allow the couple to enjoy the outdoors year-round. Rustic wood beams and a nautical oval window add a touch of the west coast to complete the home’s polished curb appeal.
A salient aspect of the design brief was to create a home where the owners could age-in-place. Primary living spaces are conveniently situated on the main floor while the upper level enjoys an office space and rooms for guests or a future caregiver. An elevator shaft was pre-built for future needs. The wall of built-ins in the hallway creates an insulated barrier between the livelier main living areas and the serene master bedroom.
The main floor layout enjoys a smooth flow with some division between rooms for a more cozy, traditional feel. Centred around a hardworking island where guests tend to gather, the transitional style kitchen boasts modern features like the flat-panel cabinets in Beechwood and an efficient work triangle in the spacious room. A built-in wall of cabinetry provides ample storage to keep the space organized and clutter-free.
“The owner wanted the kitchen to be separate from the dining area while also creating a sense of connection,” says Morris, who designed a unique pass-through window that can be concealed with doors that fold back when not in use. Below the window, a built-in hutch keeps a place for everything and everything in its place.
An open, airy feeling was fostered in the living area with wood beams and contrasting white shiplap ceiling. A natural stone fireplace serves as an impactful focal point while clean-lined reveals and the absence of crown mouldings reflect the home’s modern appeal. Built-in cabinets reduce visual clutter and add functionality to the room. Made by a local artisan, the stained glass windows were inspired by a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Chicago, offering added light with privacy. A smooth sense of flow between indoor and outdoor living spaces is enhanced via folding glass doors.
Solid fir emerged as a unifying theme in many details including multiple built-ins right down to all the windows and even the sashes. White oak flooring throughout the home, as well as the same type of knob on all cabinets, expresses the homeowner’s design sensibility to integrate design cohesion and a synthesized sense of serenity.
“There are so many things vying for our attention in our world, I wanted to create a design that is symmetrical to create an underlying sense of calm. Architecture can accomplish this — your home should be a place where your mind can relax.”
The beachfront dwelling makes a contemporary statement without overpowering the surrounding homes. “Our home ticks all the boxes for livability — there is a balanced sense of flow that creates a calming environment. Everything is as it was intended to be. Brian is so thorough; it was worth doing all the front end planning to get it right with no delays or unexpected costs.”