At the end of a long winding drive in the countryside of Langley, British Columbia, a white Georgian-style farmhouse sits nestled into a forest of cedar and alder trees within sight of a nearby horse farm. The pastoral setting is a treasured oasis for owners Angela and Michael Kroeger; they relish spending family time at the house together after touring the world with Michael’s rock band, Nickelback. “This property has been in Angela’s family for years, and they wanted to create a home there that would be their family seat,” explains John James Toya, partner-in-charge at San Francisco-based Ike Kligerman Barkley, who designed the home’s architecture with the help of team members Stephanie Metz and Fatima Saqib.
Although the family is indeed often on the road, they return frequently and enjoy spending holidays and downtime with Angela’s parents, who live in the house year-round. “Everything the grandparents need or want is downstairs. When the family returns, they take over the whole second floor, and it becomes a bigger house,” Toya explains, noting that he created little getaways for each member of the family. Above the garage, there is a lofted music room where Michael enjoys jamming with his friends and bandmates. For Angela, an artist, there is a painting studio on the lower level and a solarium with a fireplace, lofted ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows. “She wanted a room where she could surround herself with plants and natural light,” Toya says. “She can go there to read and still see the kids playing.”
The solarium’s geometric basalt stone flooring has been carried in from the exterior, where Toya used it to ground the front entry as well as an outdoor dining area. “The solarium looks like it might have been an outdoor space at one point that had eventually been glazed in,” Toya explains. “They didn’t want something that just looked like a farmhouse. They really wanted it to feel like an old, storied home.”
To that end, the exterior was designed with traditional white siding, black shutters and a dark-colored roof. Cementitious board materials were used for the siding to achieve the wood clapboard look the owners desired while better withstanding the typical West Coast climate. “The owners wanted a house that wouldn’t keep needing to be repainted,” says builder Dick Reid, who helmed the construction with project manager Brad Johnson. “We had highly qualified finishing contractors to install the material, so the level of workmanship is spectacular.”
Above the front entrance, there is a balcony with a balustrade made of wrought iron, another material that Toya carried into the interior; iron details here and throughout speak to the owners’ admiration for Gothic ornamentation. “They wanted a melding of an American farmhouse with certain moments that felt like old New Orleans,” Toya explains, pointing to the iron sconces and ceiling fixtures that he incorporated throughout the home.
The Gothic sensibility plays a key role in the kitchen, where Toya bookmatched slabs of marble so that the veining resembles the wings of an angel—a fascination of Angela’s. “We found one configuration that created this sort of angelic form for the kitchen island countertop,” Toya notes. “It was a nice little surprise, and she loved it.”
Angela’s cherubic objets d’art find their way throughout the house, joining comfortable furnishings that the design team helped source or that were part of the owners’ collection. The overall feeling is light and romantic—ethereal even with a neutral palette that allows the architecture and countryside setting to steal the spotlight.
For the hard travelin’ owners, the home provides a peaceful escape from the throngs of screaming fans, a place to fish on the pond that the grandfather dug next to the house, or to ride their ATVs through the paths that he created in the nearby forests. Most of all, it’s a place for the entire family to reconnect and regroup. “The whole property is an extension of their interests and their family history,” Toya explains. “It’s a really happy place.”
— Tate Gunnerson