“Wanting to spend time in your vacation home even in bad weather — that’s the litmus test,” says interior designer Ian McLeod. These homeowners are so thrilled with the renovation of their 1968 home in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, they head there as often as possible, rain or shine.
“We didn’t set out to re-create ’60s modern,” says McLeod, who worked with partner Kerry Johnson on the project. “We combined goals of respecting the original home’s spirit with honoring the incredible natural environment around it — it’s a fresh Pacific Northwest take on midcentury modern.” The pair listened closely to the homeowners, whose tastes they knew well after helping them design their city home, to make the house function as the escape hatch and entertainment hub they had hoped for.
Houzz at a Glance
Location: Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada (about a 1½-hour ferry ride or 15-minute seaplane ride from Vancouver)
Designers: Kerry Johnson and Ian McLeod
Size: About 2,800 square feet (260 square meters); 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
The couple had been looking for a “recreation home,” as they say in Canada, for quite some time. Once they got serious and narrowed it down to a few choices, McLeod and Johnson toured the finalists and helped them make the decision. The designers immediately recognized the ideal proportions and other promising features of this house, which sits on a hunk of rock jutting out into Swanson Channel. This is what the exterior looked like after they were done.
“This house had fantastic bones,” McLeod says. “By this I mean it had wonderful proportions, beautiful shapes, and that sunken living room just looked like a party.” As soon as he crossed the threshold, Johnson, a building designer, was already imagining ripping down walls to open up all the public spaces, as well as adding extra-large custom windows.
The renovation was all about transparency and long sight lines through the space to the spectacular views beyond. Creating a sense of continuity was paramount. All the floors are tiled in 30-inch by 6-inch Italian porcelain planks that resemble wood. The flooring is unbroken through all of the rooms and hallways, has no thresholds and is heated from underneath. It even continues up this high media wall, warming up the space.
They painted the vaulted ceiling white to lighten things up and cover inconsistencies left behind by old walls, since removed. In keeping with the home’s proportions, Johnson designed windows that are 10 feet high, as opposed to their previous standard sliding door height of about 6 feet, 8 inches — all the more chances to see the eagles, whales and deer beyond the glass.
The designers mixed splurges like authentic Eames lounge chairs and a custom coffee table with less expensive pieces from popular retailers. The chevron poufs are from West Elm. “They just look like a party,” McLeod says. “They say, ‘Come sit with a cocktail and have a chat.’”
The designers were inspired by the lichen-covered rocks around the property, which include the occasional burst of orange, and the local fauna. Deer and owls are represented on playful pillows. “It’s a modern way to reference the beautiful animals who live on Pender Island,” McLeod says.
A Fresh Pacific Northwest Take on Midcentury Modern