BY DANIELLE POPE | PHOTOS BY JOSHUA LAWRENCE
When Lori and Andy Kimpton found the property of their dreams near the top of Triangle Mountain, it wasn’t the spot they’d originally meant to build their home.
The couple had gone up to close on a property they loved but, at the last minute, the deal fell apart. Driving away, Lori was especially crushed, and when they passed a for-sale sign they hadn’t seen before, she urged Andy to stop the car. This was it.
With expansive views amidst a nest of trees, the spot was even more striking than the one they’d planned to buy. Full vistas of Mount Baker, Mill Hill, Victoria and Port Angeles were tucked into a secluded rocky quarry. The couple called the real estate agent and closed the deal on the spot.
Barely a year later, they would move into their customized dream home, masterfully built into the natural bedrock of their diamond-shaped lot. The home boasts views of all the natural vantage points, framed by a cluster of trees. Though it may look to passers-by like a level modern build, this three-storey home had its structure dictated by the bowl-shaped rock that lines the property.
“This was a challenging site to work with from the design side, because it was really a big hole surrounded by trees,” says principal designer Duane Ensing, with Villamar Construction. “Because it’s on the side of a mountain, we needed to work backwards and make sure everything was built from back to front.”
The Long View
The couple gave Villamar free rein with the design, but their biggest wish was to keep the prominent view.
“We wanted to create a house where, as soon as you come through the front door, the view catches you,” Ensing says. “It creates a strong and commanding entrance when you can see right through the house to Mount Baker and Victoria. No matter what’s happened in your day, you can come home, take a breath and enjoy the sight.”
To make sure his vision was a success, Ensing used an open-concept plan with spacious floor-to-ceiling windows, and enough height on every level that even the “basement” suite offers a spectacular outlook. The 3,500-square-foot house holds three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a downstairs suite. All of this may sound unremarkable, until remembering Ensing’s team had to sink the structure deep into the ground, allowing the shape of the mountainside to influence the fitted design.
“We added a lot of animation to this layout because the house is sitting in rock,” says Ensing. “So, there’s a kink in the building, where part of it sits off by 15 degrees, which gave us a wider panorama and helped us work with the geography.”
Three types of siding help blend the house into its location: standing seam metal, Pacific Ashlar ledge stone from K2 Stone and rock posts. Ensing wanted the look to stay modern, but seem like it belonged.
Though the view was paramount, the homeowners also wanted a home that offered a big, beautiful kitchen, expansive bedrooms, bathrooms and closets, with a signature style. Ensing’s team pulled it off, with an elegant floating staircase that becomes a focal point inside the home.
While Andy was focused on the use of high-quality materials, Lori concentrated on the interior usability of the house.
“I love the way the kitchen is laid out, with the two islands, because I spend so much time there and it allows me to work while still getting to enjoy the view and watch the ships come in,” she says. “The kitchen is the gathering place in our home, and people pull up chairs to the islands and just visit.”
One of the kitchen’s unique elements is its butler’s pantry. This functional space doubles as storage for goods and appliances, and becomes an extension of the room.
Lisa Dunsmuir, interior design consultant and co-owner of Step One Design, had a special task: she’d need to mix the cool, hard modern look of a rock house with the warm and decorous preferences of the homeowner.
“Lori is an elegant woman, and she wanted something that combined clean lines with bling,” says Dunsmuir. “We needed to create a high contrast, modern appeal, but also make it warm.”
Dunsmuir started with the floor, using a matte white oak, which gives a brightness to the home without making it beachy. Luxury finishes were incorporated throughout the house, with the kitchen boasting natural quartz countertops, contrasted with a marble backsplash. To create visual interest, Dunsmuir played with different reflective surfaces throughout the interior, such as the charcoal engineered wood cabinetry, or the glossy white tile surrounding the fireplace in the great room. Dunsmuir added “bling” through a variety of classic pendant lamps from Kuzco Lighting, which created a modern but feminine approach in many parts of the house.
The Great Wide Open
Natural marble makes an appearance again in the powder room, with intricate tile work alternating two tones of white and soft grey near a floating vanity. Dunsmuir used dynamic elements in the master bath as well, mixing stone detail in the flooring with quartz countertops and a double floating vanity.
“We wanted the house to be airy and open, and to keep establishing the viewpoint, but we also wanted to create a home that clearly showed the homeowners’ character,” says Dunsmuir. “As soon as you walk in you want to be able to say, ‘Yes, Andy and Lori live here.’”
Lori says her favourite part of the house will always be the vista.
“Everyone who comes here comments on the view, and all three levels offer a slightly different perspective,” she says. “We’re thrilled with how the whole situation turned out. When you see your home finally come together, it’s awe-striking.”
Lead designer: Duane Ensing, Villamar Construction
Construction manager: Nick Taylor, Villamar Construction
Engineers: Munro Engineering
Interior design: Lisa Dunsmuir, Step One Design
Draftsman: Mike Dunsmuir, Step One Design
Plumbing: Tyler Mechanical
Electrician: Citadel Electrical Systems
Doors and hardware: Amberwood Floors & Fine Finishing
Window restoration: Centra Victoria Windows & Doors
Roofing: Victoria Custom Roofing
Drywall: South Island Drywall
Tile: Hourigan’s Flooring
Painting: Victorian Painters & Co.
Kitchen/Bathroom and Custom Millwork: Harbour City Kitchens
Finishing carpentry and floor refinishing: Amberwood Floors & Fine Finishing
Glass: Builders Choice Products
Countertops: TK’s Granite
Pendant lamps: McLaren Lighting
Fireplace: South Island Fireplace