Western Living Magazine
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Designer David Nicolay reimagined a cramped vintage space as an open-concept dream home that lets the sun shine in.
He wanted a home shot through with daylight. And what the owner had was a space full of unnecessary divisions and dark rooms. But there were great bones—this 2,300-square-foot residence is a 1965 vintage Erickson Massey Architects design in Vancouver’s posh Point Grey neighbourhood. When David Nicolay of Evoke International Design came on the scene, he saw how severely limited the original floor plan was—the worst culprits being a walled-in kitchen and a staircase that chopped the space in half, blocking arriving guests from the tremendous ocean views. “So we opened the place up, front to back,” says Nicolay, a 2008 winner of WL’s Designers of the Year. “This guy was just starved for light.”Today, stepping past the privacy hedge, we walk across a California-style entrance courtyard, complete with wading pool, toward a wall of glass that folds back, accordion-style, to reveal an entirely open interior.
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On the home’s opposite wall, a second system of glass slides away so that the whole floor becomes a kind of funnel for light and air, designed to capitalize on the enormous and unobstructed view of English Bay beyond. For good measure, a pair of 16-foot skylights have been installed above, and, eschewing the need for pot lights, they are outlined with continuous strips of LED to provide a singular glow at night.
A cocktail at the new kitchen might draw visitors out of the courtyard’s pool. Indeed, the entire front half of the main floor is designed to entertain, with a five-stool bar made of impressive black marble and vintage Brno chairs lining the front-and-centre dining table. Appliances by Gaggenau and Miele are tucked discreetly away in a floor-to-ceiling bank of black walnut cabinetry that anchors the galley-style kitchen.
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That millwork, done in book-matched veneers so that the grain creates a repeating cathedral effect, extends all the way into the living area, where a plush Flexform sectional of smoke grey seems to insist that guests stay a while and enjoy the view. Just as the kitchen cabinets flow into living-room walls, the concrete work that edges the kitchen floor’s basalt tiles turns a corner and becomes the hearth of the living room’s fireplace.
Subtle tricks of design draw us forward and through to the show-stopping view. “We were lucky with this home,” says designer David Nicolay. “We got to do all the fine details we wanted.”
The staircase that once divided this house—and cut most of it off from the view—has been smartly shifted to the far corner and set behind a screen of walnut beams. Down those stairs, the master suite partly echoes the main floor: it’s a single open space, though the bath area is occasionally closed off by a sliding wall with more walnut veneer. When extended, that wall cleverly fits into a thin opening in a cantilevered cabinet that runs across both bathroom and bedroom, tying the two spaces together as surely as the millwork does upstairs.The bathroom itself matches most spas for luxury, thanks to a steam bath enclosure that’s equipped with two rainfall showers, body sprays and a bench. (More trims of specially designed LED lighting turn the shower into a kind of aquatic lantern in the evening.)Finally, much was made of a petite backyard patio, an extension of the bedroom through one more sliding wall of window. Around the perimeter, concrete planters were conceived and stocked by Considered Design (in good company with Nicolay—they’re also past winners of WL’s Designers of the Year). And a thoughtful sequence of millwork includes a two-step rise toward a Jacuzzi with an infinity edge and a horseshoe-shaped bench surrounding a firepit. An ideal spot to end the night while downtown twinkles across the bay.
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