When I am searching for homes to discuss on this blog, I have some basic requirements that I look for. First, I am looking for designs styles or elements in the home where some or all of them could be applied in this area. The Okanagan valley has a diverse topography with three major cities and a number of smaller ones. It has flat land close to the lakeshore, usually where the cities are located and also has varied topography as the land rises up from the water. The hillsides provide the opportunity for views, which is the designer’s responsibility to take advantage of.
Because of the fabulous weather we enjoy in the Okanagan and the opportunity for outdoor living, I like to promote transparency to the outdoors from the home with lots of glazing and ease of access to decks and patios through large glazed doors. I have chosen this home, designed by Reid Smith Architects, the project located in Bigfork, Montana and perched above a lake, as a great example of what can be done on a treed and sloping lot. All images from 1Kindesign and the architect.
The siting of the home was well done. I really like how the house is nestled back into the bank. They arranged the grade so that there were no stairs to navigate in order to enter. The use of rough, large boulders to retain the bank and the slab stone stairs enhance the rustic look and feel of the property. Exterior portions of the home were clad in stone, echoing stone on the land. It gives the house a real feeling of permanence and stability.
The patio off the back of the home is spacious and stretches across the whole of the building and wraps around the corner. It would need to. The entry door is the patio slider and from what I can see there is no other way in. A set of stairs can be used to reach the lower grade. There is room here for a reasonable number of guests and the expansive view draws the eye out over the lake. I also like that they left some trees out in the view. I disagree with the notion that all the trees in the field of view need to be removed.
Easy for me to say, I was not in on the design meetings, but I would have added a couple of things. I always try to include a cover over some part of the deck. In the Okanagan we can get many summer days where the temperature reaches 40 degrees C which is above 100 degrees F. Even temperatures below that can be uncomfortable and who wants to be out in the sun all the time. Also, it can rain, even on a summer day. Sitting outside, under cover, when it is raining can be very enjoyable. I also would have added an entry door closer to where the parking is and had a roof over it. The first trip of the season to the cabin with all the food, clothing and stuff means dragging it all around on the deck and then opening the slider with a handful. Even worse if it was raining.
The architect did so many things well with the design of this cabin. The size is just around 1100 sq. ft. but feels much more spacious with the clear span vaulted ceilings. The design is very functional with no wasted space and takes full advantage of the view. All the glazing keeps the space light and airy and definitely achieves the goal of having the interior transparent to the outdoors. With glazing technology where it is today, using these large windows does not result in significant heat gain. The heat just bounces back out. Also, when it is cold, the windows are very energy efficient and retain the heat in the home.
The interior finishes are very organic, with the ledge stone walls on each end of the home echoing the exterior stone. The wood ceilings and concrete flooring match the outdoor materials of wood and stone. I have never used the rod and cable support system for the glulam beams but after seeing this, I am going to look for the opportunity to. It also adds a bit of industrial look and feel to the home.
The kitchen is not large, but then again this is a vacation home. From what I can see, there is only one bedroom which would translate into not having that many guests show up for dinner. You can see the reflectance of light off the polished concrete floor and the use of bright colours gives the space some pop.
This is a bedroom I could spend some time in. Imagine waking up in the morning and looking out at the lake. With the stone used on the end wall here as well, it makes the room feel very comfortable and relaxing.
The bathroom has kind of a Zen feel to it. The cabinetry is bamboo with a granite counter top and vessel sink. 10 mil glass shower enclosure is bright and open, especially with the transom window over it.
The view up to the cabin from the lake shows how it is nestled into the landscape and is more a part of it than taking away from it. If you look hard, there is a trail from the deck stairs down to the lakeshore.
This image is of the dock with Adirondack chairs and the requisite kayak.
When I first saw the pictures of the home and the property it was located on, it immediately reminded me of the land above Okanagan Lake along Westside Road heading up to Fintry and beyond. Our brother-in-law Ron and his wife Carrie bought a house there last Fall. Many of the properties there have fantastic views of the lake, including theirs. This image shows the view from their lot looking out on to Lake Okanagan, chairs wrapped around the fire pit. We have driven up there for a couple of visits where we spent time around the fire, cooking hot dogs and drinking wine. Of course we were drinking wine, this is Okanagan Wine Country.
An example of a home, also located in Fintry and currently under construction just down the street from Carrie and Ron, shows a very similar style to the Montana home. Notice how the grading leads to the deck access at grade and they have a covered entry over a street side access door. The beams that were used were gorgeous. Being a carpenter for the many years that I have, I carry a real appreciation for great wood and this house has a lot of that going into it.
The view side of the home shows a basement level, the main floor with very large deck and a back wall with lots of windows. You can also see the garage under construction up behind the house. I was in this house when it was just being framed (roof was going on) and I can tell you there was no sparing expense on the interior wood finishes. I saw large bundles of clear, edge grain fir panelling being used for the ceiling finish. If this home is completed with the same level of finish it has started out with, it will be a “stunner”!