Every home and room we feature in the magazine is special and beautiful of course — why would we share them with you otherwise? But we can't help but play favourites. As the year comes to a close, our editorial team shares the spaces that offered particular inspiration and delight, at a time where sparking joy was more important than ever.

adasdasPhoto by Jon Adrian.

A Cookbook Collector's Dream Home

I had the pleasure of visiting designer France Lefebvre's home in person (in the before-times, of course), and the photos in this story transport me right back to that spectacular space. Yes, it's stunning, with its waterfall edge Ceaserstone island and herringbone backsplash, but what really strikes me about the kitchen is that the avid cook really designed it for her specific uses — this is a room that puts every inch to work. There's the extra-wide range and a full-sized freezer to match the fridge on the other side, plus a prep kitchen where her Kitchenaid Mixer and baking equipment live. Lefebvre built shelves within easy reach of the stove, where spices are stored in ceramic jars that match the colours of the Okanagan Lake right outside the window, and even installed a special hot-water faucet in the sink to aid her culinary needs. And then of course, there's the cookbook library built right into the island, so every one of her 200 tomes are at her fingertips. All good design should put function over form, but this kitchen is a reminder of just how good that can look. — Stacey McLachlan, editor at large

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RUFproject's Salt Spring Home

Like seemingly everyone else, the pandemic has me dreaming of island life: slow pace, my own organic vegetable garden, maybe starting pottery. But if I'm realistic, what I really want is solitude, views and a kick-ass house. And when I look at this Salt Spring house by architect Sean Pearson of RUFproject I think check, check, check (and it doesn't hurt that RUF won our Arthur Erickson award this year). The design brief called for a modern log cabin, and while the result is a fair bit swanky that where Abe Lincoln grew up, it does have a cozy vibe notwithstanding it's seriously contemporary design (more pics can be seen here). This is in part to the extensive use of wood, but also there's a nice low slung ethos that hugs the 3.1 acres of oceanfront land. And it has a nice little low-key tennis court too. Let others have the pottery—I need to work on my backhand.—Neal McLennan, Food & Travel Editor

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Measured Architecture’s Shift House

Where to begin. There’s the cool, “confetti-like” exterior, the rough rotary-cut plywood throughout, the felt-lined opening connecting the kid’s rooms that reminds me of when my sister and I tried to convince my dad to cut out a secret passage between our bedrooms (which, for some reason, he never did). Every time I look at this house I notice something new—it’s a study of texture and contrast and pattern put together in such a practical way. I love that it’s unrefined and playful, and very specific to the client; it’s uniquely designed for this one family to live in, not to be sold to some imaginary buyer. That said, if the family is looking to adopt an adult child, I’ll happily move in. —Alyssa Hirose, assistant editor

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Falken Reynolds' Van Dusen House

I first saw photos of this home when the duo behind Falken Reynolds—Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds—were presenting at one of our WL Design Talks in the beforetimes when we did such things. And as soon as their talk was finished, I leaned over and whispered, "Please tell me we can run that in WL!" There's a lovely story behind it too: it's an old family home from the 1960s that a young couple decided to renovate for their growing brood. Falken Reynolds celebrated some of the midcentury elements—they kept the gorgeous travertine fireplace, and updated the ironwork on the staircase to something far more modern (on a new staircase, to boot)—but brought in the open, indoor-outdoor vibe that we all crave in 2020. It's so lovely I struggled to choose just one photo—so I encourage you to peruse the rest of them here.—Anicka Quin, editorial director