The unpopulated portions of the west coast in BC, Canada are filled with beautiful coast Douglas-fir trees, which are not a true fir (hence the hyphen) and only grow from west-central BC down to central California. It’s a beautiful, tall growing tree that is used often in west coast cabinetry and it defines west coast architecture. Custom homes throughout BC, Canada tend to feature Douglas-fir and this waterside home is no exception. BattersbyHowat Architects integrated custom Douglas-fir millwork throughout the home giving it a beautiful localized aesthetic.
Located on a steep, wooded site overlooking a private beach in Centre Bay on Gambier Island near Vancouver, BC, the home cantilevers out from a rocky perch. The exterior is clad in red cedar, which blends harmoniously with the arbutus or menziesii tree growing next to it; the arbutus is another west coast tree.
While some of the red cedar cladding is clear finished, other portions of the home’s facade are dark stained board and batten.
Access to the home is via a meandering path that follows the lay of the land. As the path wanders it links each of the various zones both inside and outside.
The overhanging section of the volume and its canted wall define the main entrance. The overhang offers shelter for off loading packages.
1/3 of the home is designed for guest rooms, an office and the main entrance all of which are located on the main level, next to the steep slope. The upper volume can be accessed via two external staircases and one inside stairwell.
The inside stairwell follows the line of a central concrete wall designed to aesthetically continue the grey shades of the rock embankment throughout the interior of the home.
Upstairs a large terrace and its wall of sliding glass panels create a seamless connection to the outdoors and its amazing southwest ocean views.
The exposed ceiling rafters of Douglas-fir continue the connection to the natural landscape just a few feet away. The living room is large and in order to expose the ceiling rafters with minimal vertical support, BattersbyHowat Architects installed double slim profile steel posts. The posts, although not wood, continue the imagery of the grey weathered tree trunk bark outside. Did you notice the sofa legs pick up on the post detail?
The kitchen is filled with Douglas-fir details from the exposed ceiling rafters to the custom edge grain vertically book-matched millwork on the cabinets. Even the Subzero integrated fridge is covered in a Douglas-fir panel.
Even the dining table is a custom Douglas-fir design. The warmth of the wood is a perfect foil for the rough concrete wall behind the millwork.
The concrete wall behind the millwork separates the kitchen from the hallway and stairwell.
The hallway features custom Douglas-fir flooring and cupboards.
While the children’s and guest bedrooms are downstairs, the master suite is upstairs with its own private terrace and a view through the arbutus tree.
The walk in closet and ensuite continue the flat panel, book-matched millwork that is used in the kitchen.
Although the bedroom overhangs the steep site, the ensuite is at ground level and a large soaking tub is positioned to enjoy a private up close view of the rocky site.
It’s hard to believe the hustle and bustle of Vancouver is just one hour away.
BattersbyHowat Architects Inc.
Photography by Sama Jim Canzian.
Due to its rugged landscape, Gambier Island homes are more often than not cantilevered contemporary weekend escapes, featuring Douglas-fir either in custom millwork, ceiling and / or flooring finishes.