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BattersbyHowat brings a long-planned dream home to these homeowners on the Sunshine Coast.
Some things are just worth waiting for—and a dream home ranks pretty high on that list. For these homeowners, that wait was a 20-year stretch of clipping out gorgeous homes from issue after issue of Western Living, and filing those pages away until they could finally build a dream home of their own on this remarkable lot on the Sunshine Coast.
As it turns out, when they reviewed those files of clippings, it was obvious they were being drawn to the work of one team in particular: BattersbyHowat, the Vancouver architectural firm that’s been much lauded and admired for its thoughtful and beautiful approach to West Coast modernism. It was clear: that firm was their dream choice. And dreamy is just what BattersbyHowat delivered.
The team’s design gives you just what you’d want from a home sited on a location as stunning as this one. On approach, as you drive in from the woods, the exterior appears modest and understated, clad in a vertically bevelled black siding of varying widths that creates an almost random-seeming texture and pattern. “The house doesn’t give anything up as you approach it,” says architect David Battersby. “It’s almost a non-eve nt. Whenever you do anything black, especially in the woods, you don’t really see it—it disappears.”
At the entry of the home on the inland side of the house, the first invitation in is a wall clad in white. “We wanted the spaces where you enter the house, or look out from when you’ve in the house, to be really bright,” says architect Heather Howat. The entryway is not just distinctive, it’s practical, too: “It’s all in the recesses and protected,” she notes.
As you might expect from a waterfront home, views are paramount—but how the team at BattersbyHowat positioned the home to take in those views is anything but standard. The structure was designed with a slight boomerang shape, which not only mirrors the rocky bay below but also has the effect of directing the views from inside to various moments along the shore. The main room, for example, looks out to the big view—Texada Island, the Strait of Georgia—but the master bedroom is angled toward a point and the particularly beautiful shore pine that grows there. “It looks out at this quintessential kind of Canadiana,” says Battersby. “It’s bedrock, pine, water.”
Inside, the varying ceiling heights are a result of pairing a straightforward roofline with an unusual room layout. “It’s really just a simple gable roof on an irregular form,” says Battersby. “So that’s why you get all of the tapering lines. It’s this graduated spatial experience, as you walk through these room s and the ceilings are getting lower and lower.”
The design allows for 15-foot ceilings in the main living spaces, and more intimate rooms on either end—the principal suite on one side, and a home office on the opposite, where ceilings come down to seven feet in the corners. Sliders open the main room out onto a deck—which feels spacious thanks to that boomerang design, but is kept intentionally modest so as not to block any views from inside the home.
While a neutral palette of warm woods, easy-to-maintain concrete floors, and oatmeal and charcoal tones on the furnishings provides a beach-home vibe and lets the view take centre stage, there are moments of colour that reflect the natural surroundings. An orange throw pillow on the sofa is inspired by the bark of the arbutus trees on the land, and the back-painted, sunshine yellow glass backsplash in the kitchen reflects the view from beyond the windows behind it.
It’s a home that has ease of movement, through open rooms meant for friends, family and gathering, into the cozier, private spaces, like a den designed for a quieter night by the television. All in all, It’s a dream-home space that was worth the wait. “They want to have a special house on this really amazing property,” says Howat. “And they waited 20 years to do it.”
Originally published July 2021.
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