Dream Homes: Attainable Luxury

If the magazine on your coffee table isn't Robb Report but Dwell, and the crazy dreamer within thinks in terms of six figures, not seven or, sakes alive, eight, well, you too are in luck. Property values outside the big cities have been flat or even retreating for the past several years, even as builders and designers have begun to snap out of a decades-long infatuation with romanticism and countrification in favour of more practical and sustainable forms. Result: a tidy supply of houses like these five, all within walking distance of the ocean, if not right on it.

Until a couple of years ago, this Bowen Island home was a merely pleasant abode in a more than pleasant location. Then in 2009, a renovation by architect James Tuer (a recent finalist as WL eco-designer of the year) added a few hundred square feet and a whole lot of wow factor. The 2,700-square-foot home is listed at $795,000 by Penny C. Naldrett, Sutton Centre Realty.

Built during the 1960s in the manner of first-generation West Coast Style modernists like Fred Hollingsworth, this house extends to only 1,100 square feet—but it sits on an oceanfront property near Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast that covers more than an acre and is zoned for a second dwelling. Listed at $899,000 by Leslee A. Cooper, Re/Max Top 20 Realty.

This modernist classic on idyllic Denman Island was renovated and revitalized by owners who'd occupied prominent positions in art and design in London before moving back to Canada. Five industrious years later it's a finely polished gem and, with 2,400 square feet, not a tiny one either. Listed at $499,000 by James Warner, Re/Max the Islands.

Designed and built by Marcel Studer and Mike Dutson, whose work for the Econ Group has previously appeared in both Western Living and Western Living Condo, this 3,700-square-foot home is located in Cowichan Bay, North America's first Slow City as designated by the Italian-based Slow Food movement. Listed at $799,900 by Elizabeth Biberger, Royal Lepage Duncan Realty.

In the 1950s and '60s, hundreds of simple but elegant post-and-beam houses were built up and down the West Coast. This 2,200-square-foot example has benefitted from a tip-to-toe renovation, and occupies one of the best locations in Gibsons, the Sunshine Coast community that in 2009 was named the most livable town in the world by a United Nations-affiliated group. Listed at $650,000 by Joel O'Reilly, Royal Lepage Sunshine Coast. wl