Over the course of his 16-season NHL career, Dan Hamhuis lived in more houses, in more cities, than most people do in a lifetime—and brought his family along for the ride. So, in 2020, when it came time for Dan to retire from hockey and finally put down some roots, the easygoing Hamhuises likely could’ve comfortably settled anywhere in North America. But for Dan and wife Sarah, there was no place like home.

Both had grown up in Northern B.C.; returning to Smithers just felt right. They’d bought the plot of land years ago, in fact, and had enjoyed many an off-season in a modest holiday cabin on the property. So when the time came to settle down in a “forever home” for their next phase of life, the couple couldn’t think of anywhere else they’d rather be. 

The kitchen ceiling is technically lower than the ceiling in the living room, but thin slats of clear yellow cedar panelling elongate and lift: the result is a room that feels lofty and higher than its nine-and-a-half feet. Here, the design team at Falken Reynolds used a mix of Caesarstone and Corian for the countertops and white granite for the backsplash. Muuto Loft stools line the island. (Photo: Ema Peter)
The dining table from Scott Landon Antiques—lined with a mix of vintage bentwood chairs and Bensen Torii dining chairs—is made from the boards of a former ballroom floor. The draped light fixture is Rich Brilliant Willing’s Vitis 5 pendant lamp. (Photo: Ema Peter)
In the living room, a Bensen Endless sofa and Zanotta Kent 892 swivel chairs are arranged around Christian Woo walnut nesting tables. Side tables are from Barter and the area rug is from Kinnasand. A Gubi floor lamp and Roll and Hill desk lamp illuminate the scene. (Photo: Ema Peter)

The unique site features incredible mountain views along with waterfront vistas, so Dan approached Vancouver-based design firm Falken Reynolds with what he humbly describes as “simple thoughts of how we wanted the house to be”: a home that was part mountain cabin, part lakefront house. Principals Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds took the mash-up concept and happily ran with it; the result is a 4,100-square-foot modern home, warm and bright, that celebrates the landscape and the active family’s outdoor lifestyle. 

“Seldom do our kids have shoes on,” admits Sarah, laughing. Her three daughters—Anna (14), Morgan (12) and Brooke (10)—are usually found either traipsing barefoot in and out of the house and down to the beach in the summer, or clomping in with ski boots after a bluebird day on nearby Hudson Bay Mountain. 

The team at Falken Reynolds worked closely with Hotson Architecture on the architectural design, and tapped Telkwa-based Vandergaag Construction to do general contracting for the project. Starting their involvement at the earliest stages gave Falkenberg and Reynolds an intimate level of control over the space planning. The extra-roomy entryway, for instance, is designed specifically to accommodate the family of five as they all shed their big puffy coats and gear after a day on the slopes. The bedrooms, on the other hand, were designed with minimal square footage to encourage the family to spend time together in the common spaces instead. 

Every room has an incredible view, whether upstairs or downstairs. It’s no accident: Falkenberg and Reynolds took the time to do sun studies, watching where the light hits the site so they could place windows to capture it in the most optimal way. “Because we were able to design the whole home, we could decide on exactly which views to frame,” says Falkenberg. Snow-proof skylights even illuminate the staircase.

At the heart of the Hamhuis home is the kitchen. The family is almost always there, cooking up a big breakfast or getting ready to entertain after a day of hiking or skiing. So the design team made sure that it was truly at the centre of the flow, considering not just its role within the home, but also within the property itself. As a result, the kitchen layout allows you to view both the driveway and the dock to see when neighbours are arriving on boat for a barbecue, or when the girls are piling out of the car, hungry after a day on the hill. 

Sarah describes the flow of the space as “natural.” Though they’re just ramping up hosting again post pandemic restrictions, the family’s dinner parties consistently move from kitchen to dining room to living room. “It’s not like, ‘oh, we should move to the living room’—it just happens,” she says. “The flow of the house works exactly the way we wanted it to.”

(Photo: Ema Peter)
Dan loves mixing cocktails for guests, so Falken Reynolds installed a little home bar on the side of the kitchen. “The kitchen is located in the middle of the action,” as Dan describes it. (Photo: Ema Peter)
The stairway is lit by a vintage pendant lamp (sourced from Scott Landon Antiques). A landscape painting from Rod Charlesworth hangs on the wall. (Photo: Ema Peter)

The Hamhuises are in a good position to truly appreciate this functionality. “We’ve lived in a lot of houses—big ones and small ones and old ones and new ones—and they all had dead space,” says Dan. “There would be formal dining rooms or guest areas which just collected dust. In this house, we use every single inch of the square footage.” That’s not to say the family is pushing at the seams; rather, Falken Reynolds has designed the layout with true intention. “Every space, every storage cabinet, the way everything works together, it has purpose,” Dan says.

It also has plenty of style. Though this modern home feels light and airy, very few of the walls on the main floor are white. Instead, the milieu is one of wood grains and finishes, with oak flooring, ash millwork and a yellow cedar ceiling. Stone elements, like the beautiful stone-and-steel fireplace, are another natural touch.

The girls each had their own consultation with the designers to make requests for their bedrooms. (Photo: Ema Peter)

“Dan and Sarah wanted to teach the girls about sharing and being together,” says Falkenberg. Case in point: the three teenagers share a bathroom (though each has the humble luxury of her own sink). The girls also share a study and lounge area above the entry (pictured above). (Photo: Ema Peter)
A large mudroom was designed to accommodate all the mitts and hats and ski equipment the active family of five is always taking on and off. (Photo: Ema Peter)

Warmth also comes from the furniture picks, selected from outside the usual modernist toolbox. Instead, the Hamhuises sourced many of the pieces—such as the dining table—from Scott Landon Antiques. Black fittings and black accents like handrails and faucets are modern finishing touches that aren’t too precious and give the whole space a casual, sit-down-and-stay-awhile vibe. 

Boosting that shoulder-drop feeling is the positively languid light fixture from Rich Brilliant Willing that is sprawled above the kitchen table—though, of course, it took a deft design hand to achieve that just-so level of perfect imperfection. “We used a 3D model to work out the exact placements of the cables and blown glass orbs to make it easier for the contractor to install it and achieve a casual look,” explains Falkenberg. The glass diffusers evoke fishing floats bobbing at sea.

Though the unusual pairing of lake house and mountain chalet might have been a confounding assignment for some, when Falkenberg and Reynolds came up to the home for the multi-day photo shoot, they got a chance to see just how right they got it. “It was really gratifying to watch how the family uses the house,” says Falkenberg. “Those photos of the family in the kitchen? That’s them making us dinner.”

There’s a covered dining deck, specifically sited to catch the evening sun. A firepit on the lake side of the house is a favourite place to hang in the winter; a second pit, down the steps at the beach, is the preferred gathering spot for summer nights. “To make the house feel welcoming, the outdoor living spaces—dining, firepit, tennis court and dock—all face the front yard,” explains Falkenberg. “When guests arrive at the property by boat or car, Dan and Sarah wanted them to be able to see if people were gathering outside and to feel welcome. (Photo: Ema Peter)

Originally published July 2022.