For­mula: None

A not-so-builder-ba­sic for­mula reimag­ines the spec home.

Western Living - - CONTENTS - by AMANDA ROSS // pho­to­graphs by EMA PETER

In this stun­ning Van­cou­ver spec house by Falken Reynolds, el­e­gant, sim­ple mod­er­a­tion in­forms the strik­ing space but asks for your at­ten­tion with only a whis­per.

Like out­sized per­son­al­i­ties, there will al­ways be spa­ces that im­pose their de­sign will on you, usu­ally with over-the-top pomp and cir­cum­stance. Maybe it’s fur­ni­ture on steroids or sweep­ing drapes lay­ered over wall­pa­per; it might be dizzy­ingly kalei­do­scopic pat­terns jum­bled to­gether like a Mid­dle East­ern bazaar gone wild. Whichever they are, their take-no-prison­ers flashi­ness de­mands your re­lent­less at­ten­tion.

Con­versely, quiet re­straint can be equally dra­matic, without giv­ing the viewer whiplash. It might take a lit­tle longer to get to know the space intimately, but you can plumb its depths over time. For this stun­ning Van­cou­ver house, its pow­er­fully quiet de­tails reg­is­ter only af­ter care­ful, stud­ied con­tem­pla­tion; el­e­gant, sim­ple mod­er­a­tion in­forms the strik­ing space but asks for your at­ten­tion only with a whis­per. And the home wasn’t de­signed for just any­one—it was de­signed for ev­ery­one.

Chad Falken­berg and Kelly Reynolds of Falken Reynolds In­te­ri­ors never set out to de­sign for a spec house. Spec­u­lat­ing on Van­cou­ver’s real es­tate mar­ket isn’t for the faint of heart, with 33-foot lots on the city’s east side clock­ing in at well over a mil­lion dol­lars be­fore the ham­mer even lands. But when Ken­ton and Jayme Lepp of Moose­head Con­tract­ing—who’ve worked with lo­cal ar­chi­tec­tural stars like Bat­ters­byHowat and D’Arcy Jones— in­vited the duo to col­lab­o­rate on a project from the ground up, they jumped on board. Of­ten­times, cheap ma­te­rial from econ­omy-driven builder-ba­sic houses even­tu­ally ends up in the land­fill be­cause of its shorter life cy­cle. A blank slate de­signed with qual­ity in mind would al­low the de­sign­ers to im­print their sig­na­ture clean, mod­ern ethos but also chal­lenge them to cu­rate an aes­thetic for a broad spec­trum of buyers without break­ing the bank.

The key to the in­te­rior would hinge on in­spir­ing de­tails

dove­tailed into Moose­head’s clean-lined shell. Much of the pair’s in­spi­ra­tion comes from ren­o­va­tions where they “see a lot of re­ally bad things largely be­cause things aren’t con­sid­ered.” Their job is to fix it, whether it’s a view that’s not prop­erly cap­i­tal­ized on or a kitchen that’s not func­tional. The firm has gar­nered a rep­u­ta­tion for beau­ti­ful and grace­ful crafts­man­ship that draws heav­ily on con­tem­po­rary lines, but with this project, they would need to de­sign and value-engi­neer from scratch in order to max­i­mize qual­ity while still be­ing con­scious of price. No small feat.

“Good de­sign and bad de­sign cost the same, so why not de­sign it re­ally well?” Falken­berg says of the process. Not know­ing who the end client would be could have stumped some­one less ex­pe­ri­enced, but al­ready hav­ing a win­ning for­mula meant they could hit the ground run­ning. “We use the term ‘warm min­i­mal­ism’ or ‘a quiet pal­ette,’” Falken­berg fur­ther ex­plains. “It’s do­ing things in a sim­ple way so own­ers can then layer their life into the house.”

From the ex­te­rior, the home it­self is a classic Crafts­man, but the al­most-3,000-square-foot in­te­rior is all Scan­di­na­vian-meets-West-Coast-mod­ernism. Time­less yet on trend, spare but invit­ing—the in­te­rior is clad in light elm wood, nat­u­ral stone and the de­sign­ers’ un­fussy ap­proach. Clever and thought­ful high-de­sign de­tails re­veal them­selves to lin­ger­ing gazes and fur­ther de­lib­er­a­tion. From floor-to­ceil­ing closet doors with pivot hinges to float­ing stairs that add high­end cus­tom de­tail, the over­all re­sult is the an­tithe­sis of cookie-cut­ter.

Slow-re­lease el­e­gance and beauty in the home abounds: a slat­ted oak screen at the stairs dou­bles as a nat­u­ral room di­vider yet keeps the space airy and open; a low-ly­ing built-in bench by the fire topped in raven Cae­sar­stone in­cludes stor­age but also serves as oc­ca­sional ex­tra seat­ing; over­head lights in the kitchen are re­cessed and painted black to add di­men­sion and vis­ual in­ter­est. At first blush, the over­head rows

“Most peo­ple don’t want their home to look like a staged real es­tate list­ing; they want it to look like it’s ready for a cover shot for an in­te­ri­ors mag­a­zine.”

look like beams un­til you re­al­ize they’re sim­ply a dark, in­verse beam-like de­tail.

As well, the team “tried to be con­scious of ma­te­ri­als that would last—qual­ity ma­te­ri­als like Cae­sar­stone and good plumb­ing fix­tures like Hans­grohe, but mixed in an in­ter­est­ing way,” says Falken­berg. “When you see our spa­ces for the first time, you see mod­ern and clean…al­most ef­fi­cient at first.” He adds: “But what we try to do is then cre­ate in­ter­est­ing touch­points—it’s the less-ob­vi­ous things like the mill­work and the qual­ity of a fix­ture that peo­ple re­ally no­tice af­ter they’ve lived in a space for a while.”

Coin­ci­den­tally, the fam­ily who ended up buy­ing the house works in the de­sign field. Their low­ly­ing fur­ni­ture com­ple­mented the low-pro­file mill­work; their lack of clut­ter is al­ready a per­fect fit. One could be for­given for think­ing their col­lec­tion of books was ac­tu­ally the de­sign­ers’ at­tempts to style the space.

Time­less De­sign The Falken Reynolds team aimed to cre­ate an airy, con­tem­po­rary space that wouldn’t over­whelm po­ten­tial buyers while at the same time en­sur­ing time­less­ness that any homeowner could grow with.

Smart Plan­ning The master bed­room is de­signed with the team’s classic re­strained pal­ette, cre­at­ing a white and calm­ing space for its fu­ture res­i­dents. In the study, they used books as a de­sign el­e­ment for per­fect form and func­tion (left). “Big ex­pan­sive walls lend them­selves to books,” says Falken­berg.

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