Set high above Vancouver’s picturesque Coal Harbour, this spacious, city-chic apartment functions as the part-time home of a family who spends half their year in Asia. As such, it needed to function like a hotel, so the family could simply arrive with their luggage and feel settled right away. What’s more, as this apartment was to be used by various extended family members throughout the year, it needed to become a multi-generational home, suitable for everyone from an elderly couple to a family with young children. Let’s see how Haeccity Studio got on with the task in hand.
A Multi-Generational Home
It’s All in the Flow
At 2150 square feet, the Coal Harbour Residence isn’t exactly on the small side. But when Haeccity Studio first came to the project, the apartment felt compact and claustrophobic due to its fragmented layout and jarring material palette. “As soon as you walked into the apartment, you were in a narrow hallway with walls that obscured the view,” shares Co-Founder and Senior Designer Shirley Shen.
“One of the challenges we wanted to address in the beginning was the incredibly long proportion of the apartment.” – Travis Hanks, Architect and Co-Founder.
To this end, the team’s first port of call was to modify the layout. This involved opening up the living area to create an expansive entertaining and kitchen space. The open plan aesthetic gradually transitions into private quarters. While flexible in nature, these private spaces convey unique expressions of each family member’s respective personality.
In the Long Run
A restrained palette of lighter neutral hues ensures a classic contemporary look to this abode. The finished space exudes that same city-chic appeal found in the very best modern luxe hotels. Wood tones, matched with white and blue-grays, create an overall serene home suitable for the whole family.
“One thing we wanted to work with from the beginning is the view of Vancouver’s water and mountains,” explains Hanks. “We focused on having those lighter colors foregrounded when next to the view so that they weren’t competing with each other.”
The team even went so far as to create their own brand of wood to use throughout the apartment. “We wanted to evoke a sense of timelessness with materials that would offer longevity,” notes Shen. “Walnut was one material that we really loved and tried to lighten it up so that it wasn’t so heavy and traditional. We asked the furniture maker and millworkers of the cabinetry to work collaboratively. Together, they created a formula that would desaturate the walnut and reduce some of the red tones. We call the finish ‘frozen walnut.'”
When it came to furnishing the apartment, Haeccity Studio prioritized local design. “We didn’t want to populate the space with just luxury objects and furniture. It needed to feel more local because the clients wanted to be in Vancouver for Vancouver,” says Shen. In many instances, the team opted for custom pieces. The circular dining table with an in-built Lazy Susan, for instance, was a commission designed by Ko Júbilo.
Trials and Tribulations
The renovation process for this project was all-consuming, requiring Haeccity Studio’s full architectural and interior design services. Needless to say, it wasn’t without its difficulties. “We often think we have carte-blanche in a condo tower renovation as long as you keep the perimeter,” reveals Hanks. “But there were actually a lot of walls that had electrical or other systems running through to other units.”
“The existing structural slab was so uneven, we had to pour concrete to get it level for the engineered wood.” – Shen.
Despite starting out as a boxy apartment with bottom-of-the-line interiors, the Coal Harbour Residence has been totally transformed. In its place stands a beautiful multi-generational home, worthy of its superior, view-laden location. As the owners were away for the renovation process, the before and after difference was as drastic as they come. One of the first things the family said was that they couldn’t even remember what it looked like before because it was so different – a testament to the amount of work Haeccity Studio put into this project. All in all, we couldn’t imagine a better place to retreat back to after our travels away.