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We take you inside a modern Japanese-style house in West Vancouver.
In the Creek Residence, every room comes with a view.Aptly named for its location, it sits perched over Cypress Creek in West Vancouver with nothing but lush forest for more than 100 feet in any given direction.Built in 1962 as a starter home for the Van Damm family by Gardiner Thornton Gathe & Associates, current owner Jennifer Marshall says it’s the home’s transparency that she loves most. “It’s quite unique in the sense that it’s really, really integrated with its site in a way that generally houses are not,” says Marshall. “We can really see the forest or the creek from every room.”Marshall’s family bought the 2,800-square-foot, split-level house in 2000, and prior to this there had only been one other owner after the Van Damms, a significant interior designer and Robert Ledingham’s right-hand man, Jack Burnett.“He did some beautiful things to the house, basically polishing up and making it more contemporary,” says Marshall. This included installing floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall in the living room. “So what happens is you’re sitting in that room and you really feel like you’re on all faces connected to the outside.”The post-and-beam home was originally painted mustard yellow and black, which Burnett brought to a green before the Marshalls adjusted it to its current more muted and blended version. The railings were also replaced and painted red to emulate Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Pennsylvania that sits atop a waterfall in the middle of the forest. “I think the aspiration is that, in the sense that the house really overhangs the creek and is one with nature in that way,” she says.
The house began as a two-bedroom, but the Marshall family converted the giant guest room into two rooms for their kids, making it more of a family home.
There isn’t much wall space for art and decoration on account of the ample floor-to-ceiling glass, and Marshall explains there isn’t a lot of circulation space either. “You come into the foyer and then you’re into the dining room, and then you can either go up, or into the kitchen, or down— you kind of move through rooms to get to other rooms.” Something Marshall appreciates because it doesn’t waste any space and can still comfortably accommodate the family’s frequent parties of 100-plus guests. “It’s very Japanese in its kind of structure in the sense that you enter by coming onto a bridge and then kind of come into the house,” she says. “There are always these kinds of thresholds and transitions.”Marshall, an architect herself (principal at Urban Arts Architecture), says the home has been updated over the years, but its well-planned, straightforward and timeless design meant owners were only “polishing up the gem.”“I think the house is even more itself now,” says Marshall.Opening up the KitchenOriginal cabinetry still sits in the kitchen (lightly augmented over time), but Marshall renovated the kitchen to take out the overhead cabinets and open up the space to the eating area for a more “egalitarian” layout. “Before it was really only good for one person, like a command central, traditional kitchen,” says Marshall.The floating shelves hold the everyday dishes and don’t block off the windows, that way people can see out to the garden and everyone can come into the kitchen and see where everything is.Marshall says she also put in an 11-foot kitchen island, and white quartzite counters that make the black walnut-coloured ash cabinets look spectacular while bringing light into the room.Modern MonochromaticIn the original colour palette, the house had all black beams and windows, with the body of the house a mustard yellow. Not only has the outside been updated, but Marshall and her family painted most rooms one colour. They have a white bathroom, a charcoal bathroom, a white bedroom and a grey living room. “What it does is it creates a real serenity,” she says.The ceilings are the original natural wood, but have been “pickled a little bit” to take the yellow off the wood. “So you can still feel the warmth of the wood, but it’s not glaring.”Updating the GroundsIn 2011 the home underwent extensive landscaping, adding retaining walls to create a larger garden and pulled the parking area away from the house. The Marshalls also added a fish pond in the backyard and a Japanese-style stream to the outdoor mix of maples, ferns, hellebores, irises and mosses that blend the house into the landscape.All photos courtesy of 360hometours.ca.
The Creek Residence is one of five stops on the West Coast Modern Home Tour, which is celebrating its tenth year of opening West Vancouver’s midcentury and modern homes to the public.Details: 10th Annual West Coast Modern Home Tour – West Vancouver MuseumWhen: July 11, 2015 – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Reception at Eagle Harbour Yacht Club – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.Tickets: Range from $100 to $140 depending on transportationPhone registration: 604.925.7270Web registration: westvancouverrec.ca
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