Designed as a series of pavilions, lounging along the sunny waterfront and facing a magnificent view, this Lantzville home was a prizewinner even while it was on the drawing board. Two years ago, it won a gold Construction Achievements and Renovations of Excellence award for best home-design concept, and now that it has been built, it may win in multiple categories, perhaps even project of the year.
The unusual home has also been nominated for best single family detached home over $1 million, best contemporary kitchen over 250 square feet, best master suite over 500 square feet, best interior residential and best millwork for a home over 4,000 square feet, as well as project of the year.
“There was originally a mobile home on the property, and a couple of funky buildings,” said designer Keith Baker. But it is one of the most beautiful spots in Lantzville, just outside Nanaimo, and deserved something really special.
“It’s a gorgeous low-bank waterfront property facing the mainland and mountains,” said Baker. “The views are amazing and the orientation is such that it actually gets sunsets too.” The owners (who did not want to be interviewed) asked their builder, Taran Williams of TS Williams construction, and designer Baker to create something unique.
“They were downsizing from a much bigger house in Parksville,” said Baker. Although the new house is large, about 5,000 square feet, it doesn’t seem huge because of the clever pavilion design, which keeps the spaces defined and related to each other, but stops them appearing cavernous.
“It’s an open plan, but not one great room,” said Baker who explained the kitchen, dining and living room pavilions are all joined by hallways. The undulating rooflines roll from room to room and are repeated along the breezeway and porte-cochere, up to a two-car and one-boat garage.
“The idea is that the spaces should read as very open and create a flow without being too grand. Scale was important. The owners wanted to keep each aspect within a reasonable size and proportion,” said Baker. The result is a house that feels like three little cottages joined together. The designer explained sloping rooflines were also intended to merge with the property “so we could really tuck it into the landscape” and the rippling rooflines seem to echo the curling waves of the ocean. It also allowed him to deal with height limitations. The roof is made of highly durable Galvalum metal with a raised seam and built-in gutters. Supporting the roofs are curved, laminated beams that were built in Kelowna.
“One of the extra-special things about the beams is, they were grain matched, so you can barely tell they are laminated. They look solid.” The breezeway outside offers a graceful transition to the garage which has different openings for cars and a boat. “The owner needed lots of room to manoeuvre his boat, so we created the circular drive and oriented the garages sideways. ”Barker chose dark colours for the garage doors, so they recede. “A lot of people get caught up in the schmaltz of the garage door but I’m the opposite. There is no need to feature a garage door. I think the ones with panels of wood and glass are hideous.” He also designed a widening in the breezeway, to break up the distance.
“It allows people to come in from either side, but it also visually shortens the length and comforts the eye.”He said the gently bowed glass above many of the windows also plays on the wavy theme. Such elements are not for the financially faint-hearted however, or for a builder. Williams said the windows were probably the most challenging part of the construction. Lining up and matching all the glass, with the rooflines, the soffits, fascias and flashing radius kept him busy.
“The home has so many interesting elements,” he said. One of his favourites is in the living room, where they installed a whole wall of black glass to reflect the ocean and camouflage the television. He also likes the look of the timber breezeway at night. It has a Japanese feel, featuring 30 posts in clusters of four, each with its own light embedded into the concrete. The huge patio is another gem. It is a unique entertaining area with wood-fired pizza oven, masonry fireplace, infrared heaters, a gas barbecue and speakers, all ringed by a frameless, solid glass railing that’s embedded in concrete.
“The effect is 100 per cent transparency as you look down over a three-metre drop.” The home also has a very high-tech heating system that produces hot water, radiant in-floor heat and air conditioning, he said. It is “extremely efficient” and that is something you need in a house with about 130 windows. “All the fixtures are LED and it has the best heating system on the market as far as sustainability goes.” Even the staircase is spectacular. It leads to the lower exercise room and appears to be floating because of the stainless steel stringer, but it is also held up by some very special glass.
“Each of these sheets measures about 14 by five feet and weighs 1,000 pounds,” he said. “We brought an internal crane into the house to put it in place.