Before & After: An Expanded Wedge-Shaped Abode Flaunts its Midcentury Roots

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Lanefab Design/Build gives the angular Mitchell House, originally built in 1965, a faithful makeover that honors its heritage.

Designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson in 1965, the Mitchell House is a midcentury modern property located in Vancouver, Canada. The home is remarkable for its unique "wedge" design, which is actually half of an A-frame. The current owners purchased the 1,500-square-foot home (1,300 square feet were added to the home with the renovation) after falling in love with the West Coast, midcentury modern design. Inspired to preserve the home despite the fact that a larger house could be built on the spacious site, they called upon Vancouver–based Lanefab Design/Build to help them realize their vision. 

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The house was originally designed for a different site, with the entry door in the middle of the ground floor; however, the site was changed and the house was built in its current location without altering the design. As a result, the home's relationship to its site "is a bit more ad-hoc than other Erickson projects."

The house was originally designed for a different site, with the entry door in the middle of the ground floor; however, the site was changed and the house was built in its current location without altering the design. As a result, the home's relationship to its site "is a bit more ad-hoc than other Erickson projects."

Along with constructing a 1000-square-foot addition and a 300-square-foot garage, the primary intent was to create a new kitchen and dining area with a family room, and to give the home a proper entry sequence. The secondary goal was to improve the comfort and energy efficiency of the home by replacing the existing single-pane and Jalousie windows and updating the heating system with a more energy-efficient one. 

"The redesign aims to preserve the original massing of the home and to maintain views of the existing iconic timber frame structure," explains Bryn Davidson, co-owner of Lanefab. So successful was the project that it received a heritage award from the district of North Vancouver—an acknowledgment which is also significant in that it is "emblematic of the need to consider midcentury architecture as part of our built heritage," says Davidson. Scroll ahead to see the home's spectacular transformation. 

Before: Exterior (With Carport)

Before: the "wedge-shaped" house had only a flat-roofed carport. 

Before: the "wedge-shaped" house had only a flat-roofed carport. 

Before: the carport from above. 

Before: the carport from above. 

After

Lanefab Design/Build demolished the existing carport and replaced it with a new addition that included the new entry, dining room, family room, mud room, and garage. 

Lanefab Design/Build demolished the existing carport and replaced it with a new addition that included the new entry, dining room, family room, mud room, and garage. 

The owners wanted to make sure that the home had comfortable and usable space for their soon-to-be teenaged children. 

The owners wanted to make sure that the home had comfortable and usable space for their soon-to-be teenaged children. 

The owners were looking to add a functional mudroom which would include lots of storage. 

The owners were looking to add a functional mudroom which would include lots of storage. 

The addition is connected to the existing home by a glass "bridge" that serves as the entry and maintains visual continuity through to the backyard.

The addition is connected to the existing home by a glass "bridge" that serves as the entry and maintains visual continuity through to the backyard.

Before: Kitchen and Dining Room

Before: the kitchen was dark and cramped. The owners knew that eventually, it would be a deal breaker when they were ready to sell the home—all the more reason to renovate and enjoy a new kitchen that would meet all their needs. 

Before: the kitchen was dark and cramped. The owners knew that eventually, it would be a deal breaker when they were ready to sell the home—all the more reason to renovate and enjoy a new kitchen that would meet all their needs. 

Before: the original dining room.

Before: the original dining room.

After

Bright and airy, thanks to extensive glazing, the new space embraces the home's original timber framing. 

Bright and airy, thanks to extensive glazing, the new space embraces the home's original timber framing. 

A skylight was added over the dining table to further increase the amount of natural lighting. A bridge between new and old was created by using the timber from a beam that was removed where the kitchen opens to the dining area. 

A skylight was added over the dining table to further increase the amount of natural lighting. A bridge between new and old was created by using the timber from a beam that was removed where the kitchen opens to the dining area. 

The larger kitchen/dining area also allows for easy and convenient entertaining. 

The larger kitchen/dining area also allows for easy and convenient entertaining. 

Shop the Look
Hans J. Wegner Wishbone Chair
Hans J. Wegner Wishbone Chair
Designed specifically for Carl Hansen & Søn in 1949, Hans J. Wegner's Wishbone Chair (CH24) was the last part of his series that combined a chair's arms and top rails into one piece. The series was inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Chinese Ming Dynasty chairs.
Hawkins New York Louise Bowls (Copper)
Hawkins New York Louise Bowls (Copper)
Hawkins New York’s Louise Bowls are constructed of spun steel having a copper plated finish, and lined in a variety of enameled colors. Perfect for prepping and serving, these lightweight, food safe bowls add a little metallic shine, and some jewel toned color to any surface.
Roll & Hill Agnes Chandelier – 10 Light
Roll & Hill Agnes Chandelier – 10 Light
Agnes is an elegant design, featuring a modular anodized aluminum structure with articulated joints. The articulated joints allow Agnes to change appearance. When completely vertical Agnes looks formal and church-like, once the angles change Agnes becomes more whimsical.
A full view of the new dining area. The concrete floors are heated. 

A full view of the new dining area. The concrete floors are heated. 

A view from the outside highlights the home's timber frame. 

A view from the outside highlights the home's timber frame. 

Before: Living Room

Before: a look down at the living room from the second floor. 

Before: a look down at the living room from the second floor. 

After

The soaring vaulted ceiling and the spirit of the living room were preserved, and the entire lower level was enhanced by opening up the space, creating a smooth flow from the living room into the kitchen and dining areas. 

The soaring vaulted ceiling and the spirit of the living room were preserved, and the entire lower level was enhanced by opening up the space, creating a smooth flow from the living room into the kitchen and dining areas. 

Before: Side Yard

Before: the side yard was completely open to the elements. 

Before: the side yard was completely open to the elements. 

Before: the side yard was spacious, but the space was not well-utilized.

Before: the side yard was spacious, but the space was not well-utilized.

After

The renovation has a contemporary feel that is fully respectful of the original design and seamlessly integrates with it in a completely natural way. 

The renovation has a contemporary feel that is fully respectful of the original design and seamlessly integrates with it in a completely natural way. 

The new outdoor space is perfect for entertaining. 

The new outdoor space is perfect for entertaining. 

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Lanefab Design/Build (@lanefab)
Builder/General Contractor: Lanefab Design/Build
Structural Engineer: Yeming Li, Deerlake Design
Landscape Design: Take Root Gardens
Lighting Design: Lanefab Design/Build
Interior Design: Lanefab Design/Build
Cabinetry Design/Installation: Brillian Cabinets
Doors and Windows: Builders Door and Window
Prefab SIP panels: Insulspan

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