Home Tour: Inside a New Kind of North Shore House
Are the Houses at 1340 the new face of modern high-density housing?
New condo towers and amalgamated packs of townhouses aren’t the only solutions for higher-density housing (and thank goodness for that).
On a lot that would traditionally fit one North Shore bungalow, now sit three West Coast modern homes—called the Houses at 1340—each detached, and each finely tailored to its site and the contemporary demands of everyday living.
“The North Shore is evolving to include a greater range of housing opportunities across the board—this includes more flexible housing and coach houses,”says Steve McFarlane of Office of McFarlane Biggar architects and designers, who created the identical homes for Harbourview Projects. “I think it is one of the first of this type of development offered with a modern aesthetic.”
3,800 square feet, five bedrooms, four baths and one such coach house out back—Omb’s principals McFarlane and Michelle Biggar take us through the $2-million homes’ carefully planned interiors and design:
Strategic views. Omb carefully positioned windows on the east and west to keep views facing everywhere but the neighbours. Recessed balconies are screened by wrap-around enclosures to keep spaces even more private. Each home’s landscaping focuses on mass plantings and includes a lot of indigenous plants and shrubs. “It’s designed to contribute to privacy within the courtyards and also blurs the boundary between the forest and the rear yard,” says Omb’s Michelle Biggar.
Second-floor sanctuary. The architects aligned the second floor—including the open kitchen, living and dining areas and master bedroom—so the main living areas could take advantage of the views, as opposed to the more common location on the main floor.
Heavenly kitchens. Omb went with a simple neutral kitchen to compliment the wood floors and lush forest backdrop. “The kitchen island was designed at counter height for a stronger connection for entertaining,” says Biggar, while the waterfall detail at the ends provides a clean detail to support the cantilever. An all-white kitchen is often bright all by itself, but she says the key to good natural light in any space is to bring light in from more than one side of the room. Unsurprisingly, Houses at 1340 boast wide floor-to-ceiling windows front and back.
West Coast inside and out. “We selected a material palette to provide a quiet, elegant neutral backdrop for living,” explained Biggar, something that allows each homeowner to put their own personal stamp on things through layers of furniture, art and accessories. “It is a timeless palette with the warmth of the West Coast sensibility added through the use of wood and light materials.”
Home is where the hearth is. All three detached homes come with two fireplaces, one in each of the main living and family rooms. “We like to design the fire placement and treatment so that it is integrated with the interiors, often built into surrounding millwork that can accommodate other function needs such as TVs and storage in the same area,” shared Biggar. A design detail that’s increasingly replacing the traditional hearth and mantle approach in modern homes.
Openly private. Steve McFarlane says the team positioned the more private and intimate rooms, like this second-floor master bedroom, adjacent the forest to the north. The sliding doors on the left conceal the master closet, which is 12 feet, 10 inches in length and fitted with custom closet millwork including shelves, drawers and ample hanging space.
Everything on the level. Visiting grandparents or anyone with mobility issues will appreciate the main floor, which has three bedrooms and two full bathrooms so there’s no need to take the stairs. The main floor’s north-facing family room also has its own access and could easily be turned into an office.
More space in coach. A 340-square-foot coach house (with a kitchen and sleeping area) also flanks the home, which McFarlane says is positioned to help frame the private, landscaped courtyard for each house and shelter houses from the lane. Inside there’s even a clothes washer and dryer, with its own south-facing patio space. “It’s completely flexible how they can be used,” says McFarlane. “We could imagine people using them as a studio apartment, a home office, a workshop, an artist studio and more.”
Floating a more modern look. Biggar explains floating cabinets are a favourite detail for Omb because it’s a more contemporary and clean aesthetic than the traditional floor-mounted units (with little compromise on storage). The master bath ensuite is also pre-wired for multi-media with speakers mounted in the ceiling.
The best patio in town. A definite advantage to the flat-top, modern-style, each house enjoys a full rooftop patio with an epic view.