February 15, 2012

Portable Kitsilano

Karoleena Homes hits the mark with its latest portable home, The Kitsilano, inspired by its namesake community


Two Calgary brothers are making it a little easier to have your very own Kitsilano home. Even if it means trucking it to Tsawwassen or Winnipeg. Karoleena Homes’ latest modular design – called The Kitsilano – will be unveiled at the upcoming BC Home + Garden Show at BC Place.

The two-storey, one-bedroom prefab home has a distinctly modern look, with plenty of windows and wood details, and comes loaded with eco-friendly touches. It’s part of a new series named after hip urban areas, including The Kensington, a two-bedroom home to be unveiled in Calgary at its home show, the same weekend as Vancouver’s.

Kurt Goodjohn, who founded Karoleena with his brother Kris in 2005, says he’s looking forward to seeing people’s reaction to the homes, designed by Seattle’s Balance Associates Architects.

Karoleena Homes' co-founders Kris, left, and Kurt Goodjohn, right, with advisory board member Mogens Smed Inside The Kitsilano home during construction.

Goodjohn says he’s a big fan of contemporary west coast architecture, and wanted to celebrate it. “It’s just awesome,” he says, adding he looks at the designs about 10 times a day. “I love it.”

Last year the company created plenty of buzz when it brought its sleekly designed, eco-friendly Karoleena Cabin to the home show. They even got hugs from visitors, Goodjohn says, and lots of good feedback and interest.

Since then, the company has grown from three employees to about 40, says Karoleena’s marketing head, Kelly Doody. They also moved operations to a new, larger facility in Calgary for building the homes, expanded the number of cabin models available, and are now launching the new homes in Calgary and Vancouver. Doody describes The Kitsilano as “the perfect abode for any lot in Vancouver, inspired by the place near the beach that people just love to come back to.”

For the home show, the “souped-up” model home will feature about $125,000 in upgrades, says Doody, with a price of $559,000. This includes features such as auto-opening cupboards, and an entire wall of Marvin bifold, lift-and-slide glass doors to connect the indoor and outdoor living spaces. Furnished entirely by Urban Barn, it will be stocked with goodies like “smart home automation,” quartz countertops and imported natural stone and tile, as well as an upgraded $30,000 appliance package.

“It’s very modern, white and clean,” says Doody. “With tonnes of light, tonnes of glass and really open-concept.” Architect Tom Lenchek of Balance Associates says the two-storey, 1,450-square-foot Kitsilano has a “natural modern” style, blending contemporary lines with wood details. The one-bedroom, two-bathroom design includes high vaulted ceilings in the open living area.

“It clearly has modern lines to it, large windows and it opens to the outside. At the same time the use of wood and wood windows adds warmth,” Lenchek says. “It should be a warm and inviting space – especially once it’s sitting on a site.” Wherever that site may be.

Like all Karoleena’s portable dwellings, The Kitsilano can be shipped anywhere. Once a home is ordered and a permit secured, says Goodjohn, it takes about four months or less to build at their Calgary factory. Indoor construction isn’t just quicker; it helps minimize building waste as well.

“We take the method of car manufacturing and apply it to housing,” says Goodjohn, adding what you order is exactly what you get. Once built, on-site assembly is simple. “It’s a snap,” Goodjohn says. “It’s kind of like putting Lego pieces together.”

He estimates it will take about five hours to put The Kitsilano together inside BC Place, with the help of a large crane. After that, it will be ready for viewing. “It’s going to be a cool experience for everyone involved to see,” says Goodjohn. “We’re just really excited to unveil it.”


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