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."
"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.
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.
"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."
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 main design tool became natural light.
Although BLDG Workshop worked with the building’s existing massing, the architects 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 modern approach continues to the interiors that emphasize the home’s connection with daylight and the outdoors through white walls and ample glazing.
"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."
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Architect 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