Family-Friendly Modern was built to embody the modern lifestyle of this busy family of seven with five young children. The materials and design elements considered the home’s day-to-day livability as much as the modern aesthetic. With the exception of the play room, the house doesn’t suggest that five children live there, yet it’s perfectly suited to a large family.
Designed by Pamela Ubeda, principal and founder of Coast and Beam Architecture and built by Tim Agar of Horizon Pacific Contracting, the home is situated to suit the land’s topography. The owners wanted a contemporary home with clean lines, elegant finishes and durable, low maintenance materials that mixed manufactured and natural elements.
Large windows offer unobstructed views of the property and the picturesque countryside beyond. Many of the corner windows come together to visually suggest a ship’s prow. This attractive architectural detail combined with no interior or exterior trim gives the home a very modern aesthetic. With nothing to hide the transition between build materials, everything must be perfectly straight and square which complements the modern design and required exceptionally precise building techniques.
The main floor exterior wall is exposed board formed concrete. This modern design feature required exceptional building science to mitigate thermal bridging within the wall system. Given the porous nature of the concrete and the damp west coast climate, it required a technique to build a “house within a house” which treated the interior of the concrete wall as if it was the house exterior. This ensured the exterior maintained the look and feel the family wanted while still performing to high energy efficiency and structural standards.
All of the windows and many of the doors stretch from floor to ceiling with no lintels. This was combined with large, unsupported soffits extending up to 12 feet beyond the windows. The soffits were designed to shield the house from the sun in the heat of summer but let light in when the sun is low in the winter. To achieve this, a cantilevered roof formed the basis of the design. The two structural beams through the centre corridor form the backbone of the home. Hanging steel trusses are attached to that backbone to support the large overhangs. This successfully accommodates large sections of windows within each of the walls while preserving the building’s structural integrity.
The exposed beams running the length of the house had a patina added to warm up the industrial element. Book-matched walnut walls and locally-sourced ledge stone soften the angular modern elements of the house. Board-formed concrete lends texture to the home’s exterior. Virtually all of the materials selected for the house were sourced within 800 km of the building site to help mitigate the carbon footprint of the building.
On the main floor, polished concrete, featuring in-floor hydronic heat, extends from the West entrance all the way to the East patio, pulling the eye through the home’s shared spaces. Skylights run the length of the hall, and the south and north walls boast many windows, bathing the main floor with natural light and giving a sense of airy openness. The main floor is designed to draw people from the front door through the house to the large entertaining space outside. The large overhangs on the 1500 square foot wrap-around patio expand the home space and blend the indoors with the outdoors.
A house with five children has to stand up to a high level of activity and a variety of features encourage active children. Bedrooms were located on the second floor to achieve acoustic separation between the children and the rest of the house, giving them their space while the adults enjoy the open spaces on the main floor. Four bathrooms are located on the upper floor and two on the main. A slide and climbing wall connect the upper level where the children’s rooms are to the play area on the main floor. The intention was to introduce a fun element for the children while mitigating wear and tear on the main stairs. A playroom was built at the back corner of the house to offer direct access to the back yard.
The quartz countertops and fixtures for children’s rooms and bathrooms were selected to be low maintenance and to perform well under high usage. Durable white oak floors came distressed from the mill. Cooking is fundamental to family life. With a large family and frequent family visits, the kitchen and pantry needed to accommodate multiple appliances while still feeling open and uncluttered. With no attic or crawl space, storage is subtly built-in throughout the house.
- Millwork: CSD Design
- Countertops: Colonial Countertops
- Kitchen and Bath Fixtures: Rapid Plumbing and Heating
- Flooring: The Finishing Store
- Tiles: Supplied by Nygaard Interior Design
- Fireplace: Heat Savers Fireplace and Patio
- Light Fixtures: Patriot Electric
- Paint: Empress Painting
- Artwork: The Avenue Gallery
- Skylight: Redline Glass Ltd