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Sophie Burke Design creates a home that celebrates both family togetherness and the need for quiet moments of solitude.
Nothing puts a new home to the test quite like moving in on the eve of a global pandemic. Perched on a bluff in West Vancouver, this stunning new home was completed in January 2020—just in time for the homeowners and their twin teenagers to settle in before lockdown. Not surprisingly, the well-planned space was up for the 24/7 challenge. “Our twins were busy with their extracurricular activities, so it was the first time in years that we were all together,” says one of the homeowners. “We ended up having regular dinners in the kitchen nook and watching TV as a family.”
And when all that togetherness became overwhelming, there were pockets of solitude throughout the home for everyone. “The kids lounged in their downstairs space, in their new bedrooms and also studied at their desks, which they didn’t have before,” she says. “It was a nice way to cocoon.”
The couple had worked with Sophie Burke Design and Hlynsky and Davis Architects on their Whistler retreat in 2016, so entrusting this new project with those same design teams was an easy decision. “The three of us had already established a really good, collaborative relationship,” says the homeowner.
The low-profile, wide footprint architectural design unfolds over two floors with a striking glass, wood and board-formed concrete exterior. Connection to the outdoors is paramount here, with the main floor extending to a covered patio, and a lower level that opens directly to the pool deck. The couple’s teenagers were on the cusp of leaving for university, so that was part of the design plan, too: by putting the twins’ rooms downstairs and keeping the husband and wife’s most-frequented spaces—kitchen, primary bedroom, office and den—on the main floor, the lower level could transition to host guests and bigger gatherings after the kids flew the coop.
When it came to the interior design, the homeowner and lead designers on the project—principal Sophie Burke and senior designer Jennifer Millar—pored over many Pinterest boards. “I knew that the more pictures I could show them, the more likely we would get exactly the house that we wanted,” explains the homeowner. In addition to taking trips down Pinterest rabbit holes, the homeowner had recently visited Northern California and was influenced by its landscapes and architecture.
The property itself offers incredible views of the North Shore Mountains and the Pacific Ocean—with the architecture designed to capture those views throughout. Inside, Burke’s layered approach complements the views without competing with them. “You have this huge wow-factor view, but you don’t want it to feel overwhelming. [Inside] you want it to feel layered, welcoming and comfortable,” says Burke. Robust features like the custom floor-to-ceiling fireplace ground the space, while the colour palette throughout draws on the ambient tones of the environment: warm greys and greens, cool blues and neutrals. The resulting vibe is an effortless confluence of Northern California cool and West Coast modern—a clean yet totally relaxed aesthetic. The materials palette focuses on natural, textural elements: warm wood tones like the custom-stained hemlock cladding on the ceiling, and ebonized oak wall slats that create depth and add visual texture. Neutral, tactile fabrics in mohair, wool and linen bring in layers of warmth, while the subtle addition of black and oil-rubbed bronze finishings throughout the home provide punchy counterpoints to the subdued palette.
The welcoming kitchen design was practically prescient, giving the family a central hub during those early lockdown days. “The open kitchen ultimately was a decision about staying connected,” says Millar. The green velvet dining-height sofa at the breakfast nook table was chosen to fit the contemporary, refined aesthetic while inviting guests to get cozy and linger. “That’s become such an important space in their house,” says Burke. “Having that area right in the kitchen to hang out comfortably.”
Across from the dining nook, Calacatta marble countertops extend upward as a slab backsplash and are paired with custom white oak cabinetry to create a warm space that feels “layered rather than slick,” says Burke. The rich veining in the marble complements the black frame of the glass-front cabinets and oversized island pendant lights without overpowering either feature.
The lower level of the house was designated as the “teenagers’ zone,” with the twins’ bedrooms, a guest room and family room, where expansive glass doors create a natural flow to the pool deck. Burke’s team worked with landscape architecture firm Paul Sangha Creative to select the grey limestone flooring in the lower level, which creates cohesion between indoors and out by continuing onto the pool deck and throughout the exterior spaces. Back on the main floor, the covered deck off the kitchen offers an all-season invitation to gather and enjoy the view, leading you down the stairs to the built-in fire table overlooking the pool.
In 2020, a time when families were finding new ways to connect as they sheltered inside together—but also craved periods of alone time—this house delivered on all fronts. Today, with the kids now off at school, the home still functions as well as it did on day one. “It’s very easy for us to live here, because this is exactly the way we envisioned it,” says the homeowner. “It’s just my husband and I for much of the time, but I still feel like we use every room in our house, just for the two of us.”
This story was originally published in the July/August 2023 print issue of Western Living—find the digital issue here.
Designer: Sophie Burke Design
Interior photos: Ema Peter
Exterior photos: Brett Hitchins
Landscape design: Paul Sangha Creative
Architects: Hlynsky and Davis Architects
Builder: Bradner Homes
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