A custom cabin in the Gulf Islands offers a great escape for a family searching for the perfect summer retreat.
It’s a remote spot, this island off the West Coast of British Columbia. Every summer, it’s home to a family of five. Its modern, open spaces drink in the views just beyond the windows. Inside and out blend seamlessly, and not just because of the walls of windows that line the asymmetrical cabin. Interior designers Kerri Watson and Alex Coleman filled the Osburn/Clarke-built cabin with soft, natural hues and textures to complement the lush greenery outside. Creamy neutrals, cotton linens, slabs of marble and raw concrete dominate the living space, though hits of colour—like an armchair finished in orange Belgian linen—brighten up any dreary West Coast day. A sea urchin-like Flos Zeppelin light hangs above the custom cedar and iron table—a table so large it had to be installed via forklift. Use an area rug to create an intimate conversation zone. Here, a vintage rug defines a cozy area for visiting or reading. Celebrate soaring ceilings with big, sculptural light fixtures like the Flos Zeppelin light above the dinner table. Bifold glass doors create a seamless connection between indoors and out. Bigger is better here: the two-storey fireplace—custom designed by “cabin kings” Osburn/Clarke, who specialize in remote locations like the Gulf Islands—reaches to the peak of the slanted roof. It’s a work of art (and, of course, a place to warm up after a day by the water), constructed from poured concrete and rustic metal cladding. A fire screen runs on an industrial track beneath a BobCat-installed beam mantle, surrounded by custom millwork built to hold plenty of extra firewood. Custom black-walnut cabinetry creates a stark contrast against the polished concrete floors. These dark materials bask in the natural light that pours in from floor-to-ceiling wood-framed windows (imported from Germany); each window opens with a pivot or accordion fold, letting fresh air stream in on warm days. Minimalist blinds roll up tightly, rendered almost invisible but ready to go when the family wishes to shut out the world. Combine open and closed storage in the kitchen. Even second homes are bound to gather collectibles, so be sure to integrate a few glass-fronted cabinets to show off favourite glassware, silver service or tea cups. Keep the cook connected to the party. This propane range required a custom hood vent, but now the homeowners can take in the view while stirring risotto. Dad is an avid cook, and the girls, voracious readers. The cozy banquet seating—covered in fire-engine-red indoor-outdoor fabric, a colour scheme inspired by the Wolf range’s bright knobs—gives the girls space to curl up among the cheery throw pillows while dinner is being prepped. For those more inclined to chat with the chef as he works at the six-burner propane range, leather stools pull up to the Calacatta gold marble-top island. The mirrored backsplash above the wine cooler reflects the incredible ocean view—these may be the best seats in the house. Mix materials to make a creative statement. Poured concrete, iron and a solid maple beam create a fireplace, designed by “cabin kings” Osburn/Clarke, loaded with visual interest. Create privacy with pocket doors. The children share one large room. Get playful with the cabin aesthetic. A faux deer head adds some levity to the master suite. The three girls share one long bedroom, oriented toward the view, which can easily be converted into three private rooms via sliding pocket doors when anyone needs a break from sisterly love. “We chose white to give everything unity,” says Watson. “But the details reflect their distinct personalities.” Each bed is a different style—an antique iron frame, a cane bed and an upholstered frame with tufted headboard—with a signature colour for the matching accent pillows on the beds and the trio of window seats. In the master suite, the view again takes centre stage—a full wall of windows stands opposite a warm grey feature wall, opening the intimate space to the world outside. Custom floating bedside tables and soft natural linens bathed in daylight give the whole room an ethereal feel. Make the bath the star. A Philippe Starck-designed tub floats above milk glass tile. The bathroom, too, is a mix of privacy and extroversion: oversize glass wall tiles surround a grand free-standing tub on display at the end of the room, highlighted by a dramatic Venezia Sultano lamp and sunlight pouring in through a wood-framed window. Even the laundry room takes advantage of the great outdoors—how many homes feature a sweeping ocean view to accompany a load of whites? More custom millwork, quartz and subway tiles surround a wall sink, complete with built-in washboard. The open-concept space, shrouded in privacy, offers a serene escape, but with the guesthouse out back, the homeowners are free to exercise their social side, too. This remote patch of island may just be a little piece of heaven.