A Beautiful Vision
Replete with international influences, the stark beauty of this home brings focus to its stunning surroundings
By Kris Nyhout
Four years ago, when Dale and Anne Ward* first stepped into their home perched on ten acres overlooking Prospect Lake and the Cascade Mountains north of Victoria, B.C., they knew they loved the property but wanted the home to blend more seamlessly with its surroundings.
“We wanted a home that was at one with nature,” Anne explains, but in order to allow the scenery to drive the design, it meant the home had to be completely gutted. Only the footprint of the 4,500 square foot home remained and from there, the Wards constructed a unique, minimalist sanctuary.
Their starting point was the view. The Wards wanted to ensure they could see the magnificent scenery at the back of their home from as many rooms as possible. That meant an open design and over 70 feet of glass spanning just one side of the home. With the clever use of open concept levels, they achieved their goal and can now stand almost anywhere in their home, including the master bath, and take in the stunning scenery.
Reflecting the couple’s roots in other lands, many of the interior finishes were sourced from other parts of the world. The artistic front entrance gate was created and shipped from Germany, as were the elevator doors (the elevator runs from the garage level to the living level of the home) and the interior section of the front door. All three feature the same design. The exterior of the front door is Corten steel – a steel that is weathered and retains that look. It too was shipped from Germany, complete with an unusual triangular doorknob. Corten steel was also used on the fireplace and on the cabana by the pool.
The kitchen also saw international influences. “It was mostly German and Italian,” Anne says. “It’s an Italian Varenna kitchen with German Miele appliances.” The kitchen has a stark beauty with gloss-finished panels covering the two ovens, one steam, one traditional, and then sliding over the cupboards when oven access is required. The counters are stainless steel.
The only window in the kitchen overlooks the garden at the front of the home. “When it came time to put that window in,” Anne explains, “it looked boring on the drawing. We decided we wanted to have something that would look funky and cool so we tilted it.” They loved the look so much that rows of tilted windows also make an appearance in the living room and over the front door. “I call them my dancing windows,” Anne says.
The living and dining rooms are one long space, flanked on one side by the kitchen and the other by the massive windows. A Zettel’z lamp by German designer Ingo Maurer commands attention over the dining table. “Rice paper notes hang from the lamp,” Anne explains. “It began with some notes and then we added some of our own to personalize it.” In keeping with the couple’s style, the space is sparsely furnished, allowing the outdoor scenery to be the focal point.
Another floor-to-ceiling window in the master bedroom dictates the placement of furniture. The bed is positioned to catch the sun rise over the mountains. The design of a Charles Rennie MackIntosh chair in the master bedroom is mimicked in the master bath vanity. The bath is open to the bedroom and in turn, no doors separate the bedroom from the rest of the home.
Heated Brazilian slate runs throughout the interior and spills into the exterior of the home as well. It surrounds the 18×30-foot infinity pool. The pool is solar heated by the German Solar-Ripp system of tubing, which is mounted on the roof of the home.
Beyond the pool, a carport area became a multi-functional space with a storage area and raised gardening beds. “This summer we grew potatoes, radishes and herbs,” Anne says and with an outdoor sink in the space, “it was perfect for washing the vegetables before bringing them in to the house.”
Closer to the house, the hot tub is easily accessed from the exercise room, which is directly below the living room, and has the same amazing views as the main floor. Here, Brazilian walnut decking creeps in and around the rocks. “This was so hard to do,” Anne says. “We first cut a template with another type of wood, just to make sure it would work and then we cut it from the walnut.” The effect is stunning, allowing the decking to blend almost seamlessly into the natural landscape.
When guests arrive, they are able to stay in a separate two-bedroom suite. The unit is in the west wing of the home but is not accessible from inside the main portion of the home. “They have their own separate entrance,” Anne says, “as well as their own kitchenette.” Oak floors give the space a warm, classic look.
Sadly, the couple’s ties to other countries mean they won’t be able to stay in their Vancouver Island home forever. “Our home is a beautiful vision come to life,” Anne says, but before long, she believes, it will be someone else’s dream.