Brian Cunningham and Sara McCracken might be modernists, but they€™re not minimalists. €œWe do have a life-sized stormtrooper in our media room,€ laughs McCracken.

The couple had lived in their 1940s West Vancouver bungalow for about 12 years, but as their two children started to grow, the pair began talking about a need for more elbow room€”and space for Cunningham's film memorabilia. (He's a concept illustrator for the industry, she's in the collectibles-free field of tax law.) It was either find a new place or renovate€”and they opted for plan B, with the help of their old high-school acquaintance, Nigel Parish of Splyce Design.

€œI told Nigel we need a media room where we can put movie collectibles and not have them in my living room anymore,€ says McCracken. Cunningham nods along. €œNigel asked me, €˜I can€™t tell if you've serious or if you've kidding about this stuff,€™ and I said, €˜It just has to have a place somewhere!€™€

The couple had long tracked Parish's career and admired his work. €œIt was exactly our style€”clean lines, very purposeful design,€ says McCracken. The designer showed the pair how they could keep the original footprint of the home, but go up a half-storey to create room for a master suite and a home office.

Nigel Parish of Splyce Design converted the space into the lofted design it is now, complete with a cantilevered living room and new upper level, with open-tread stairs.

On the main floor, they€™d open up the warren of rooms that was so common to €™40s design to create better flow between the living room and kitchen, and cantilever the living room out a couple of feet over the front yard to gain a little more square footage. And they€™d create better access to the surrounding landscape with multi-slide doors that open the kitchen to the backyard. (In another high-school throwback for this home, the couple hired a second former classmate to help out as their builder: Dave Adair from Blackfish Homes.)

The addition of the half-storey results in a dramatic new roofline for the home, and a vaulted ceiling for the entry and main floor. €œThat subtle tip of the roof creates so much volume,€ notes Parish.

€œThat sloped ceiling creates a huge vaulted space now,€ says Parish of the living room and kitchen. €œThat subtle tip of the roof creates so much volume.€

A new stairway up to the master suite is free of risers, allowing more light to penetrate down through the stairs to the lower level. A simple materials palette throughout€”white oak millwork and flooring, white lacquer cabinetry€”keeps the rest of the space light and bright, too. Nothing is overly fussy, yet It's perfectly designed for this family of four. €œThe improvement, you can really see it looking from the living room to the kitchen,€ says Parish. €œIt's that natural flow between the spaces, the connection to the outdoors.€

The original 1940s bungalow featured a traditional, closed-off interior with no real connection to the landscape.

€œOne of the great things about designing with Nigel,€ says Cunningham, €œis that our kids are now at the age where It's great for them to have their own space, and he worked with that.€

Dylan and Kelly, now 13 and 11 respectively, have their bedrooms on the lower level with that much-needed media room for their toys (and for dad's). And the parents have their own spaces, too. The top-floor office is Cunningham's favourite room in the house. €œIt's a little purpose-built office for my work, when I need to be in kind of a dark area,€ he explains. €œIt's a little oasis up there when everything is chaotic and the kids have friends in.€

The couple's daughter, Kelly, sits in the newly renovated kitchen.
In any modern design, good storage is essential. €œIt goes all the way up to the ceiling,€ says homeowner Sara McCracken, €œand It's not even full yet. We actually look like we're organized.€

For McCracken, her personal retreat is the command central that Parish set up for her in the kitchen€”a little nook where she can sit with her laptop as the kids cruise in and out or study at the nearby island. €œIn the summer, you can open the doors out to the backyard€”I love it.€

€œI think that's what has worked so well with the design we settled on,€ continues Cunningham. €œWe do have that big, open entertaining space, yet designed into the house is everyone's retreat area. It just works.€  

Parish opted for a simple palette of black porcelain flooring paired with white lacquer cabinets in the master bath. €œIt's really hearty and functional,€ he says. €œNothing is overly trendy or overly fussy.€ there'sa bit of a glow on the floor€”that's from a skylight that was added in the reno.
Millwork throughout the home is lightly stained, rift-cut white oak: a consistent palette that's a trademark of modern design. The couple had chosen Parish after tracking his body of work over several years. €œIt was exactly our style€”clean lines, very purposeful design,€ says McCracken.