A native Vancouver Island couple were not necessarily looking to build, until they discovered the sloping Saanich Peninsula site on which their picture-perfect home now stands. “We’d been searching for a larger home for years,” explains the wife, who with her husband and their two young children had been living just three blocks away. “This was prime waterfront property that’s hard to find anymore. It’s truly idyllic.”
The downside was the dark, circa-1950s house with an inefficient layout and old-school design that sat upon the land. The only course of action seemed to be to rebuild. Residential designer Keith Baker was up to the task, and builder Brad Johnson came on board to implement the new design along with project manager Troy Freeborn. Designer Adriana Wootton, from the construction firm’s interiors division, naturally followed suit. “We had admired Keith’s houses in local magazines and knew Coastal was building and furnishing some pretty beautiful homes,” says the wife. “We were so happy to be able to work with them.”
From the start, the concepts for the home’s exterior vernacular and interior aesthetic were inspired by the owners themselves. “We’re very into design and knew we wanted a West Coast look with a contemporary feel,” says the wife, who at one time worked in the interior design industry. “Plus, I’m a ‘clipper’ kind of person and had inspiration scrapbooks and files of photos of homes we loved.”
For Baker, that input translated into the design of an elegant local-stone and natural-cedar structure with a flowing open floor plan that captured water views, and rooflines that popped up strategically to make the most of natural light. “It was a matter of good, functional design and groundedness, as well as sorting out and finessing relationships of materials,” he says. For Wootton, it meant uniting natural materials and finishes to highlight the architectural shape of the home. “Our design approach has historically focused on regionalism fused with an appreciation for the subtleties of modern interiors and midcentury modern principles,” she says.
Against an organic materials palette that fostered a connection to the exterior—primarily Douglas fir beams, rift-cut white oak flooring and cabinetry, cedar elements, earth-tone travertine, and natural ledgestone—Wootton introduced creative accents. A whimsical chandelier dangles above the rustic walnut dining table. Sculptural barstools stand before the linear, stone-topped kitchen island. A grouping of rounded, playful Jonathan Adler vases offsets the tranquil living room’s clean lines. And a subtly curved, freestanding oval tub softens the master bathroom.
Working with the owners—with whom she shared common penchants for design—Wootton selected furniture in the main living areas and master suite for comfort and form, and she oriented pieces toward ubiquitous floor-to-ceiling windows (many topped with a delicate, custom transom detail) and sliding doors. Of particular note is the living room, which features a collection of sofas, chaises and chairs in neutral tones. “We chose pieces that were timeless and would grow and patina with the family,” Wootton says.
Curated sensibilities continue outside, where, from the upper entry courtyard to the fire pit near the water’s edge, the significant efforts of landscape designer Jonathan Craggs are delightfully apparent. “We used rustic materials that drew from the natural site and accented it with pigmented concrete, decorative rock and jungle-like plantings,” he explains. The landscape was distinctly customized, much like the home itself. “The entire house was designed to make a statement,” says Johnson. “It has wings that are off-kilter, large interior timbers and massive windows that were challenging to install. Attention to detail made it work.”
Of the 20-month construction process, the wife says: “We were nervous at first. But we had great working relationships, and it turned out to be a really good experience for us. We were able to be there almost every day and got to do things like make a trip to see the beams being finished off near where my husband grew up.” As the family enjoys those idyllic views of tk from their serene residence, it’s clear the journey was well worth the wait.