September 10, 2012

Coquitlam development has the right fit

Not your typical cookie-cutter development, Coquitlam community’s homes are customizable for buyers who know what they want

Project location: Burke Mountain, Coquitlam
Project size: 16 units; three- and four-bedroom single-family homes with dens
Residence size: 3,896 — 3,928 sq. ft.
Prices: From $939,900
Developer: Wallmark Homes
Architect: Rusbourne Design
Interior design: West Coast Design
Sales centre: 1321 Kingston St., Coquitlam
Hours: Sat — Thurs, noon — 5 p.m.
Website: carteblanchehomes.ca
Telephone: 604-461-7777
Email: info@carteblanchehomes.ca
Occupancy: in construction; occupancy to suit buyer’

MARY FRANCES HILL
special to the sun

Sometimes, we may not know how creative we are until we get an opportunity to express ourselves in a practical way. That was the case for Enrique Quiroga, a Coquitlam businessman who just purchased a home in Wallmark Homes’ Carte Blanche community. In 2009, he and his wife purchased a single-family home in the newly developed area in Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain, blocks from Wallmark Homes’ development. After three years, though, his needs changed. He wanted green space to call his own, to enjoy the mountain’s natural beauty and protected creeks.

He wanted a bigger master bedroom. And he wanted to offer his children some privacy in their own spaces as they grew up. “We like Burke Mountain; we like Coquitlam. But after a couple of years here, we thought we’d much rather have a green belt. That was one of the reasons we went for Carte Blanche.” Carte Blanche offered Quiroga just that — in a rough translation from the French, a clean slate of sorts. In other words, they wanted a palette to make whatever they need in their new home. “We looked at this development and we knew that it would be the right fit. You get what you see in the show home, and everything else you can move around as much as you want,” Quiroga says.

Wallmark Homes has a background in custom home design and construction, so it was able to offer what most developers couldn’t: a chance to take the design and layout the developers offered, and re-fashion it to the buyer’s own needs. So that’s exactly what Quiroga did. He worked with designer Leslie Waters of West Coast Design Interiors to create his family’s workout room, bedroom, bathroom and media room in the large basement. He changed the flooring and moved the location of the outdoor eating area.

Next April, he’ll move into the home he’s always wanted, and he’ll have the greenery and privacy he so long envisioned for his family. Wallmark Homes’ sales and marketing manager Brad Cowden says Quiroga is one of many of the typical homebuyers who’ve been attracted to Carte Blanche. “We knew our target market would be mostly local buyers who are downsizing from nearby homes. Also, we have some buyers who are the first purchasers of Burke Mountain and they’re moving up. Others would be empty nesters with kids at home or out of the home who may want space for an older family and entertaining space.”

But the biggest difference between the buyer of a Carte Blanche home and any other in a development full of new-build single-family homes? Like Quiroga, the buyers know exactly what they want, and aren’t shy about making changes to suit their tastes. Then there are those who can’t pinpoint every detail they want or need. With many options available, it takes the experience of someone like Waters to guide them through the design process, Cowden says.

“Sometimes it’s very difficult to tell people they can customize as much as they can, because so many times they’re being told ‘no.’ “It is a lot of work. That’s why a lot of developers don’t do it. But we have all the systems in place so that it becomes an easy process for buyers. We translate their thoughts and vision.” Though many buyers fall in love with the show home’s features, the adventurous go all out, as Quiroga did, with options like paint colours, finishes, doors, built-ins, kitchen layout, or some of the decorative details in the show home such as wainscotting, details in ceilings and archways.

Motivated to present a high-end alternative to typical West Coast design, Wallmark Homes crafted Carte Blanche’s exteriors in the French country style, with steep pitched roofs, stone surfaces, aluminum railings and a Juliet balcony. Enter the show home to see an open office or lounge space at the right of the foyer, with discreet storage space, a large laundry room and mud room connecting to the double garage at the left. In a few steps, the great room opens up to show a spacious living room and an even bigger open-concept kitchen and dining area.

The kitchen is lined with floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, interrupted only by a walk-in pantry. The spacious island overlooks a dining area that, while open to the rest of the great room, feels like an enclosed room, giving it a more traditional dining-room feel. All credit for that ambience goes to the intricately-moulded columns, ceilings and oversized windows looking out to the spacious backyard lots that back out on to the protected greenway and East and West Smiling Creek.

Though it’s designed tastefully, buyers find no “for display only” signs on features in the main section of the home. They’re the tropes of stagers and designers who want to show the potential of a space, even if these decorative features don’t come with the home. At Carte Blanche, organizers in walk-in closets and built-ins in the laundry room/mud room, for instance, come standard in every home. True to Wallmark’s “custom building experience,” as Cowden calls it, buyers are given the option to remove or replace them.

For Quiroga, the option to personalize nearly every square foot of the home seemed overwhelming at first. “In the beginning, it seems like there were thousands of decisions you have to make, but they have a team of people, including designers, and they make it so much easier. Cowden says the process doesn’t end there. “If we’re in the middle of constructing their home, the (homeowner) can schedule a site visit and they can tell us of any new changes and preferences they may have.”

There are two spaces in the home that are staged to show potential, but are not included in Carte Blanche’s custom-construction program: the basement and the large patio. The show home’s basement is organized into a recreation and party room with a wet bar, lounge and poker table, with a full bedroom and bathroom, closets and a separate entrance. The patio features an overhead heat lamp, built-in fireplace and grilling area. Quiroga took full advantage of the two optional areas in the home. He moved the grill space to the opposite side of the patio and crafted a versatile family space in the basement, decking it out with a mini-suite, workout room, storage room and media room.

In the show home, a foyer in the large master bedroom leads to two walk-in closets (including built-in organizers that come standard in every home). The large master ensuite bathroom includes a spacious bath separate from the glass-enclosed shower stall, while the toilet is placed in a private corner. Vaulted ceilings grab attention on the top floor. The bedrooms are lined with large windows and bay-window seats, while the shared bathroom counters are topped with granite, over maple cabinetry.

On the top floor, Quiroga has chosen to close an open office area/media room with french doors, thereby adding one more bedroom to the three upstairs. Quiroga says he’s confident of the choices he made for his family. They’ll be surrounded by greenery in a home designed to fit their own needs and tastes. “This is a good move for someone who has lived in a cookie-cutter house, and wants to develop a home to fit exactly what they want and need.”

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