This Gambier Island hideaway offers a dose of sophisticated seclusion
Words Lisa Manfield X Photography Peter Barta
Picture the perfect island getaway. A cosy cabin-inspired home with all the modern accoutrements, nestled in the woods with a view of the ocean. It’s at once rustic and luxurious, simple and sophisticated. It integrates seamlessly and sustainably into its environment, becoming a comforting escape from reality, or a place to permanently call home.
This was the vision behind My House Design/Build/Team’s Gambier Island Waterfront Hideaway. Originally intended as a weekend getaway and summer home, it’s become a permanent dwelling for its owners during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has won numerous awards for its style, beauty and ingenuity. These include Georgie Awards for best custom home, best interior design and best outdoor living space; National Association of Home Builders awards for best single-family built-green home and one-of-a-kind custom home; and a FortisBC award for excellence in energy efficiency. It’s also been featured on HGTV’s unique homes in North America.
The house is a beauty to behold—if you can spot it through the trees. “The property owners had a dream of creating their dream home there,” says Graeme Huguet, owner of My House Design/Build/Team. “When they first met me, they had seen some of the designs we were working on that were contemporary West Coast style, and which had struck a chord with them. They wanted something that would meld into the trees and rocks of this sloped waterfront property. Most other properties you can see if you approach the shore, but they didn’t want to get rid of all the trees.”
Designed to host guests and destination entertaining, and built with the goal of preserving the site’s natural beauty, the 5,000-square-foot, three-storey, four-bedroom, high-performance home brought their dreams to life. It’s the ultimate green house (with a certified platinum build green rating) in the ultimate green setting.
A sublime design
With the main entrance on the forest side, entrants to the home are regaled with views for days as they step through the door. Twenty-four-foot-high angled wood beam ceilings and a large expanse of windows in the great room give an airy feel to the open-concept main floor.
Warm porcelain radiant floors, extensive glass walls and varying ceiling heights bring cosy and bright together in a modern ensemble.
The open great room combines the kitchen, dining, interior and exterior living areas along with a unique peninsula loft that floats above the kitchen. Simple lines in the minimalist, modern interior make for unobstructed views from all of these key rooms, opening up the back of the house to the magnificent peek-a-boo views of the ocean.
An eye-catching, asymmetrically positioned 18-foot-tall quartz fireplace spans two floors, uniting the upper-level loft with the main-floor living room, and allowing for optimal furniture positioning, illuminated by under-hearth LED accent lighting.
The fireplace is adjacent to a 20-foot glass door leading to the large outdoor living space—320 square feet of covered space on an 800-square-foot deck—making the outdoors and indoors feel like a seamless continuum.
From the main entranceway, you can see the kitchen, anchored by a large quartz island which doubles as a prep station and gathering space. The sizeable open kitchen features Sub-Zero Energy Star appliances concealed within integrated Wenge cabinetry, except for the exposed Wolf range, with its reflective stainless tile backsplash.
A theatre and laundry room round out the main floor, with an open stairwell that leads to the loft above.
On the upper level, two bedrooms plus an open library and den comprise the floating loft, which shares the view beyond with the great room below. The master suite integrates both the bedroom and bathroom with frosted glass partitions. Matching marble tiled shower and tub walls give the feeling of a high-end hotel with attached spa. Sit in the Zuma tub, let the rain shower wash over you as you gaze out at the ocean stretching out below.
On the lower level, two additional bedrooms provide ample space for guests, while a workshop allows room for hobbies and tinkering.
An island away
Building a home on Gambier Island is no easy feat. The first step for Huguet’s team involved creating access to the property via a dock.
“Gambier Island is not accessible by ferry,” Huguet says.
The team had to barge over not only all the materials, but also all the equipment.
“We had our cement trucks pumping concrete on the barge. We brought our excavators on barges. Everything had to be thought through carefully in terms of logistics,” Huguet says.
Another issue was potable water, which was located one kilometre away from the house.
“We needed to have a well that was gravity fed down to their property,” Huguet says. “We also put in a septic field and geothermal heating, which allowed us to make this sustainable in terms of the ability to have radiant hot-water heating throughout.”
The team melded the home’s foundation into the existing granite, blasting a small portion of the granite away from the face to bring the foundation closer and pin it to the rock. The geothermal system was built into the granite as well.
The energy-efficient home is a passive house, meaning it barely uses any energy for heating and cooling.
“The energy evaluation is one quarter of what a code-built house of the same size would have been,” Huguet says.
Condensation issues on the large windows, which are “common when you’re in the forest,” were mitigated with the installation of an air curtain. “The continuous air curtain along the perimeter of the house in front of the windows provides constant air flow along the side of the home,” Huguet says, adding, “We also put in ultraviolet light air purification to eliminate or reduce dust mites and pollen and any other bacteria.”
While it took 18 months and $3.5 million to build, the result is a stunning gem tucked away in the woods—a perfect place to escape to when needing a break from city life. And never has there been more of a need for solace and solitude in comforting surroundings.
這就是My House設計/建造團隊（My House Design/Build/Team）的Gambier 島海濱隱居之所的願景所在。最初只是想作為週末度假和夏季居所，但在新冠疫情期間成為主人的永久住所，並以其風格、美感和獨創性贏得無數獎項。包括Georgie Awards最佳定製住宅、最佳室內設計和最佳戶外生活空間；全國住宅建築商協會頒發的最佳綠色獨立屋和獨一無二定製住宅獎；以及FortisBC頒發的卓越能源效率獎。它還被HGTV收錄在北美獨特住宅的電視節目中。
“房屋主人有一個夢想，那就是打造他們的夢想家園。”My House設計/建造團隊的負責人Graeme Huguet說：“他們第一次見到我時，看到我們正在進行的一些當代西海岸風格的設計，很有感觸。他們希望在這片海邊斜坡上，將房屋與樹木和岩石融為一體。如果你靠近海岸，你幾乎可以窺其全貌，但他們不想失去所有的樹木。”