Image: Janis Nicolay
Tasked with devising a dream house teeming with white and glass elements, two designers set out to make a traditionally stark aesthetic feel cozy, comfy and full of personality.
"I joked that I wanted to live in a glass and white box," says one of the homeowners of this bright new build in Vancouver’s coveted Kitsilano neighbourhood. “I envisioned something super bright, with lots of windows, lots of light and lots of white,” she says. “But I didn’t want the space to feel austere or cold. I wanted warmth, comfort and softness.”
Though she and her husband loved their community, they had lived in their dark and narrow townhouse for 10 years and were ready for a change. So when their real estate agent found a place just a few blocks south in a more quiet family-friendly nook near their seven-year-old daughter’s school, the couple pounced.
Though the house was small and dilapidated (it had been a rental property for 15 years), the couple loved its location so much – including its tree-canopied street – they decided to tear the place down and build their dream home from scratch.
With a binder full of ideas ripped from magazines, the homeowners turned to designers Tanya Schoenroth and Angela Robinson. “I said: ‘Here you go!’” notes one of the homeowners of handing over her stack of inspiration. “‘Here are all my hopes and dreams. Let’s see what we can do!’”
So the design team (who have separate firms but often work on projects together) took the owners’ vision of a “bright white glass box with a soul” and created what Tanya dubs a “modern coastal” aesthetic.
Completed last year, the resulting 2,900-square-foot three-storey house features large windows and skylights, uncluttered open-concept rooms and clean architectural lines.
Fresh white-on-white dominates the abode, as requested, but the scheme is tempered by driftwood-like bleached-wood elements, such as the light-stained wide-plank oak floors. Meanwhile, marble details, from the kitchen’s herringbone-tiled backsplash to the family room’s dramatic fireplace surround, add richness.
While the house is decidedly modern – especially with all the sleek white and glass features – it’s not all hard and square. The clean backdrop serves as a fresh beautiful canvas for injecting character and coziness. Light fixtures are playful and sculptural, textural fabrics like the linen drapes and velvet sofa add softness, furnishings inject pops of colour and the unique shapes of the kitchen’s pendant lights and family room’s swivel chair give personality.
It’s exactly what the homeowners hoped – and exactly what the designers hoped to give them. “This home really reflects its owners,” says Angela. “Fresh, vibrant, casual and sophisticated.”
Open to the kitchen, the family room is designed for a busy family’s lifestyle. The coffee table is made from reclaimed wood, “so the more wear and tear it receives, the better it looks,” says Angela Robinson, one of the designers. The wool carpet is reversible and washable, and the sofa is also super durable (it has a white denim slipcover for spring and summer).
The kitchen exemplifies the comfortable contemporary look carried throughout the house. The wide Shaker-style cabinetry and crown moulding are clean transitional elements that offer subtle character.
In the kitchen, a herringbone-tiled Carrara marble backsplash lends interest to the mostly white space. The pendant lights, each sculpted from a long strip of wood veneer, offer organic warmth and a touch of whimsy.
Instead of creating a hard-to-reach cupboard in the corner, designer Tanya Schoenroth left some shelving open for displaying cookbooks.
With a sumptuous midnight-blue velvet sofa, a luxurious shag rug, linen drapery, a marble fireplace and sleek leather-and-chrome side-chairs, the living room boasts a lavish sophisticated look.
“We wanted this room to be a little more glamorous and elegant because it’s the first thing you see when you enter the house,” says one of the homeowners.
“We wanted the effect to be, ‘Kapow!’”
The wife’s office is filled with Mid-Century-style furnishings. “The armchair was my grandfather’s, and I had it reupholstered,” she says. “It’s a special piece that came along with us from our former house.” A metallic cowhide rug lends a hint of cozy glamour, while an offset bookcase displays favourite curiosities and family photographs.
Awash in light grey and white, the master bedroom presents a serene airy look, while the upholstered bed offers softness and texture. The artwork above it is a custom piece; look closely and you’ll see the lyrics from the homeowners’ wedding song. “It’s one of my favourite pieces in the home,” says Angela. “It’s so subtle yet meaningful.”