BLDG Workshop Breathes New Life Into a Lakeside Home and Outdoor Hut

On the shores of Canada’s Kalamalka Lake, a dated home gets a second chance with a redesign that embraces the outdoors and captures light.
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When Nathan Buhler, founder of Toronto–based design firm BLDG Workshop, was asked to design a lakeside home for a young family in British Colombia’s Okanagan Valley, he was presented with two choices: tear down the existing dated home on the clients’ property or pursue renovation.

Working together with his sister, Adrianne Bailie, interior design and principal of Adrianne Bailie Design, Buhler chose the sustainably minded and cost-effective option—in fact, the "labor of love" renovation that followed became his firm’s "most intricate and sensitive work to date."

Nicknamed the "lake of a thousand colors" for its brilliant coloration, Kalamalka Lake was a driving inspiration behind the home’s redesign. In a playful nod to the lengthy renovation process, the remodeled house, which now embraces views of the lake, has also been dubbed the "house of a thousand alterations."

"The existing home was considered a teardown by most that considered the project, but BLDG Workshop wanted to work somewhat more thoughtfully with relation to the site and sustainability," explains Buhler of the dark and clunky "disaster" of a house that was built in the 1970s with little regard for natural light or the outdoors.

Previously, the home had been "a dim, dark, clunky disaster that had been built apparently in direct opposition to light patterns and to views of the lake," says Buhler. Now, the renovated home takes proper advantage of its lakeside setting.

Despite its coveted location on the shores of the stunning Kalamalka Lake, one of Canada’s most beautiful lakes, the old, introverted house was closed off from views of the water, largely because of its split-level layout that divided the three-story home into seven distinct and dimly lit levels.

An abundance of glazing pours light into the house. Hardwood floors are used throughout the home.

The kitchen features Corian countertops and walnut cabinetry. The backsplashes are chevron-patterned, Carrera marble tile.

"The main design tool became natural light," Buhler says. "The design became an exercise in chopping, slicing, dicing and carving light into the home from every single direction. From skylights and clerestory windows to a 20-foot, lift-slide door, the family can now live fully immersed in the beauty of the landscape and bathed in natural light."

The upper floor houses the main entrance as well as five bedrooms.

Opening the home up to the landscape not only filled the home with light and views of the lake, but also helped ground the 3,500-square-foot dwelling into the site. The reimagined residence emphasizes indoor/outdoor living, particularly with the addition of a tilt-slide window that opens the entire lower level of the home to the lakeshore. Careful attention was also given to preserving the site’s mature vegetation.

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The lake-level Beach Hut, built by Nathan and Adrianne’s father, further enhances the home’s indoor/outdoor living experience.

The main design tool became natural light.

—Nathan Buhler 

The angular Beach Hut is the perfect place to enjoy views of the lake.

A new, custom hot tub was added beneath a retractable Ipe wood deck.

Although BLDG Workshop worked with the building’s existing massing, the designers gave the house a distinctly contemporary makeover marked by clean lines and a textural contrast between the exterior’s new materials that include charred, shou sugi ban cedar and a "texture-less" white cladding.

The roof is sheathed in asphalt shingles and is complemented by charred timber siding.

"By using a shou sugi ban facade. we softened the materiality somewhat but pushed the intent further by creating a highly-faceted detail (almost like a latticework) that contrasts with the multi-colored and varied landscape and lakeside setting," Buhler explains.

The modern approach continues to the interiors that emphasize the home’s connection with daylight and the outdoors through white walls and ample glazing.

Board-formed concrete punctuates the home, including in the living room, where it frames the fireplace. The sofa is by Montauk.

"The resulting home is a modern transformation that pays homage to its midcentury roots while remaining grounded in its mature native setting," BLDG Workshop notes. 

"The homeowners can now truly experience lakeside living, through the transformation of the home. The house has been sculpted to welcome the surrounding nature into every crevice while maintaining a modern boldness and beauty that complements the landscape."

Chevron-patterned Carrera marble lines a wall in the bathroom that also features Carrera marble floors and Delta taps.

Etch Light by Tom Dixon provides an elegant, sculptural contrast against a board-formed concrete wall.

Home on Lake of a Thousand Colors upper floor plan

Home on Lake of a Thousand Colors lower floor plan

Related Reading: A Lakeside Retreat in Quebec Looks Sharp With a Blade-Like Roof

Project Credits:

Designer of Record: BLDG Workshop

Builder/ General Contractor: Heartwood Homes

Structural Engineer: Sawyer Duncan Engineering                    

Landscape Design Company: Chinook Landscaping in collab w/ BLDG Workshop & Adrianne Bailie Design 

Lighting Design/Interior Design/Cabinetry Design: Adrianne Bailie Design 

Cabinetry Installation: Greystokes Millwork 


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