Hockey great Trevor Linden builds himself a laid-back, (but tricked-out) Whistler retreat.
Things weren't supposed to get this good. When, years ago, Trevor Linden and wife Cristina bought themselves a Whistler getaway, it was meant to be a simple place to crash while skiing with buddies. Simple it was: a typical 1980s Whistler deal with rough cedar siding outside, lots of pine mouldings inside—definitely long in the tooth. "Great location," he said to designer David Nicolay, "but a crummy place." After his 20-year NHL career came to a close in 2008, Captain Canuck turned much of his attention to design and the local real estate game. Along with younger brother Jamie, he started working on residential and commercial projects. And Nicolay, principal at Evoke International Design, has become part of the team. "We started out thinking this would be a really modest reno," says Nicolay. "Just a new kitchen. But then…" The space was complicated and tight, with five split levels covering 2,400 square feet, so that simple kitchen reno quickly bloomed into a full rehash. "Every drop of drywall was taken off, stairs were ripped out, many walls were taken down, too. Nobody has done anything close to this level of reno in that neighbourhood." (Linden's ski retreat is part of the Snowy Creek community, just outside Whistler Village.) All Linden's friends are "mad skiers" so the place could not be too fragile, and it needed to be ready for serious socializing. Once they've come in off the mountain, guests move immediately into a proper wet room, with a steam shower, a cold shower and a luxe hot tub. The spa treatment does double-duty by serving as a mudroom, bridging outdoor mess and indoor tranquility. Upstairs in the living space Nicolay knew that group hangouts and big dinners were the goal, so he lined the walls with a custom built-in sofa to maximize the room's seating. Rough wooden coffee tables by Brent Comber are a smart fit for a chalet, while white oak panelling throughout keeps things both modern and warm. (The floors are white oak, too, but are wire-brushed for contrast and depth.) On the same floor, that kitchen redo saw an E-15 dining table ringed with 10 happy Eames chairs whose wood dowel legs play off those white oak walls. And a full suite of Gaggenau appliances, built into custom millwork by Evoke, help the hosts produce proper après-ski meals. Up the next flight of stairs (artfully cantilevered off a new steel structure so the landing can float outside the upper rooms), a loft is supplied with Patricia Urquiola's Tufty-Too sofa—a lounger's paradise. Here's where guests can lay about and take in films on the widescreen TV, or traipse up that steel staircase (welded by Linden's brother Jamie) to the master bedroom, where a custom bed by Bensen is an ideal landing pad after a full day on the slopes. (Friends bunk in two bedrooms on the lower floor.) The townhouse (or chalet, if you must) feels large enough to keep the party going and swish enough to befit a champion with a stake in Vancouver's most competitive sport—real estate.