May 28, 2018
Home Decor: Bali on the Bench
A Vancouver couple brings memories of Bali home to Naramata for an exotic escape from the everyday
Story by Laura Goldstein and Photos by Peter Powles
Melding their love of wine with 30 years of collecting art and artifacts on their exotic travels throughout China and Southeast Asia, a Vancouver couple has built an entire Balinese-inspired home on the Naramata Bench overlooking Okanagan Lake. Here, every detail evokes a story.
“It took us three years to find this property in Naramata wine country, which we felt was the perfect fit for our lifestyle and would honour the Balinese culture,” say the owners, who prefer to be unnamed. (He is in finance and she is a retired health professional.)
The home was designed by Robert Mackenzie Architect and built by Richard Terry of Capoi Development, both based in Penticton. Mackenzie had travelled to Bali, Indonesia, to study local lifestyle and climate and noticed a lot of similarities to Naramata. For instance, Mackenzie explains, “Roof overhangs were essential for exterior shading, and local B.C. fir was finished to a smooth patina and colour. The esthetic was complementary of Balinese building, while reflecting the beauty of our local wood.” They also installed a geothermal system that provides energy for in-floor heating, air conditioning and heating the pool. Roof rainwater is collected in a cistern for landscape watering.
The owners “went on the mother of all shopping trips” back to Bali during their home’s construction in 2007. “We have friends in Indonesia who knew the architect of one of the Four Seasons Resorts there and we used a shopping service he suggested.” With their architectural plans in hand, they went with a buyer and two vans to more than 20 warehouses and villages off the touristy grid. They custom-ordered five onyx sinks, a 3,000-pound bathtub carved from a single river boulder for the master bath, Ganesh sculptures for the courtyard garden and six hand-carved limestone panels amongst many other pieces.
In addition, they had six sets of exquisitely carved internal doors made to exact specs from the builder. For centuries, the Balinese have been renowned for their carving artistry in teak, hibiscus and suar woods (the latter is very resistant to cracking). The owners commissioned bespoke doors adorned with intricate flowers, leaves and animals, as well as visual narratives of Hindu-Javanese epics and mythological figures. They were also very aware that the hot and dry Okanagan summers could wreak havoc with wood, so they brought a moisture meter with them to ensure that all raw materials were pre-dried in Bali.
Furniture commissions took a year to complete, then everything was crated up into two containers and shipped to Vancouver.
“We had to use a crane to lift all the heavy pieces into our home and it was pretty scary bringing them over the maple floors, then lining up all the carved doors to fit,” the owners say now. It took six months to arrange the interiors. The final effect is jaw-dropping.
The home is perched on a private clay promontory high above Okanagan Lake, where the architect positioned the entry from the second floor for a uniquely dramatic touch. A massive three-inch-thick hand-carved Balinese door swings open. Eyes are immediately riveted upwards to a 30-foot soaring atrium and mahogany-panelled pyramid and beamed ceiling.
A spectacular glass-and-Douglas-fir catwalk leads to the guestrooms and office, overlooking the 32-foot span of the living room and dining area below. A floating staircase leads down into the contemporary open-concept living room in which Balinese carved wooden doors set against white walls are enhanced by the red, grey and black colour palette of Chinese armoires, upholstered furniture and plush silk carpets.
The lacy transparent door frames leading into the main floor master bedroom belie the actual thickness of the wood, becoming a delicate counterbalance to their immense weight and a testament to Balinese carving virtuosity.
And the views!
Just as in Bali, where private homes are constructed in harmony with their surroundings and indoor-outdoor living becomes transparent, the owners captured an uninterrupted flow of tranquil beauty with 12-foot-wide accordion folding-glass doors leading onto a vast terrace overlooking the saltwater infinity pool, Okanagan Lake and the mountains beyond. Doors also open across the expanse of the master bedroom and the beckoning pool, perfect for a private plunge. Two
Balinese shingle-roofed open-air gazebos border the pool’s length, one a yoga studio, the other the Buddha Bar (a cocktail hour retreat).
Both owners are dedicated oenophiles who love to cook and entertain friends at long-
table dinners, so it was a given that their home include a vast temperature-controlled wine cellar that stocks 1,000 bottles. Its walls are tiled with Balinese river stones that give the modern space a rustic texture—as does the rice threshing machine that has been turned into a handy bar console table. “You know the Balinese recycle everything including farm implements, ” the owners explain.
Outside, a Balinese stone-clad walled courtyard features a fully landscaped garden with 24 mature apple and apricot trees and statuary integral to the culture’s spiritual way of life.
If Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, ever writes another sequel, “Bali on the Bench” would be the perfect location.