When two units were combined into one in a new Vancouver condo, it provided interesting challenges for the design team at mcfarlaneGreen Architecture + Design.
“We started work when the building was still being built,” says design team leader Michelle Biggar. “Originally the space had been two separate suites, and the owner had them made into one 1,525-square-foot unit. We had to work around the planned systems, like plumbing, and that required a lot of coordination with the trades. On the other hand, it would have been very difficult to achieve this level of result if the building had already been finished.”
The angular design of the waterfront tower also presented a few challenges for the team. The final result would have been quite different if the structure was a standard rectangle with right angles throughout. A lot of things – such as the kitchen units, wardrobe cabinets, desk and credenza – had to be custom-designed just to fit the space.
Biggar and her team opted to use a limited number of materials in an equally limited range of colours and finishes. “The clients love bright colours,” says Biggar, “so we kept the base building neutral so they can change decorative accents like pillows over time, as their colour preferences change.” Keeping the base consistent also maintains a flow between the spaces. Repetition of pattern, as seen in the hardware, recessed door and cupboard handles, and niches serves a similar purpose.
Full-height glazing throughout makes for a very bright suite, which enabled the design team to use dark wood to help anchor the space. Dimmable down lighting in every room helps create a range of moods.
The most striking feature upon entering the suite is the full-height wood panels extending along the entry wall and around the corner to the powder room at the end of that hallway. Recessed handles for doors and closets give the large walls a seamless appearance.
The dark wood contrasts nicely with the kitchen area, located opposite the wall that leads to the powder room. Although the kitchen cabinetry is in the same dark wood, elongated stainless handles pick up the finish from the appliances and mimic the recessed handles of the wall panels. The 14-foot kitchen island boasts the same wood but is topped with a unique fossilized limestone (the same one used on the back wall and counter near the stove).
“The owners entertain a lot, so we gave them low benches at the island,” says Biggar. These provide more seating space than traditional stools and ensure views both inside and out are maintained. “The kitchen is all custom-designed and built,” she adds.
The kitchen backs onto the media room wall, and the grey lacquered finish at the end of the wall in one room wraps around to pick up the theme in the adjacent room. In the media room, this wall houses multi-media racks. The desk and credenza are affixed to the opposite wall so they appear to float, similar the sideboard in the dining room. This furniture thus echoes the elongated niche that appears above the bed in the second bedroom.
The wood wall theme was picked up again in the master bedroom, where the treatment was used for built-in wardrobe space. The ensuite boasts full-height glass walls that enable the master suite – and exterior views beyond – to be seen when in the tub or shower. The bathroom is elevated to accommodate plumbing. “Elevating the floor also enabled us to install a flush teak-slat shower floor,” says Biggar. The flooring in the rest of the suite is wenge, except for limestone in the ensuite and powder rooms, and carpeting in the guest room.
Overall, Biggar says she is pleased with the outcome of the design. “I’m especially happy with the kitchen,” she says. “It’s functional, has tons of storage, and is a great space to entertain in.”