May 27, 2016

Take it outside

four award-winning projects show you how to make your backyard a seamless part of your living space 

By Leslie Peterson

As indoor living expands its boundaries, heading outdoors with a vengeance, so has its contribution to the economy. Outdoor living is a whopping $60-billion-a-year industry, surpassing even what North Americans spend on pets ($53 billion), according to the American Institute of Architects.

Trends this year include more customization, more colour and more comfort in the form of conversation nooks with built-in lounges and tranquil hammock areas. And technology is increasingly important, with high-definition televisions designed specifically for outdoor use and music and lighting controlled by smart phones.

Bigger, better and greener options for outdoor living were all showcased last month in the 2016 Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association Ovation Awards.

Along with breathtakingly beautiful new and renovated homes, the quality of indoor/outdoor spaces featured in this year’s awards proves that Metro Vancouver builders, renovators and developers keep raising the bar.

Reisa Pollard, founder and lead designer of Beyond Beige, a finalist this year for Best Builders’ project North Shore Lookout, sees more attention being given to outdoor space pre-construction.

“In the past it was more of an afterthought, not working right from the beginning of the build. People have become more conscious of design, matching outdoor railings with interior ones, a far more cohesive approach. Gone are the straight, ugly aluminum railings; now there’s frameless glass when there’s a view or lookout [or] wrought iron for a heritage home.”

Drawing homeowners outside are expansive nano walls, more diverse firepits (some combined with coffee tables), electric or gas heating tucked discreetly into soffits and woven vinyl sheers or sheer rollers providing light control, UV protection and wind cover. Combined with state-of-the-art outdoor kitchens, banquettes, outdoor area rugs and weatherproof draperies, the humble patio has become a room of its own and a favoured gathering place.

Here are four 2016 Ovation Award winners that exemplify the growing sophistication of outdoor living.

32_0640_5_Tuscan_ReflectionsA Tuscan retreat

The winner of the Ovation Award for Best Outdoor Living Space: New or Renovated was the resort-like Tuscan Reflections in Surrey, for which Jaheny Custom Builders transformed an unimpressive 75-acre site with an unsightly gravel pit into an elegant, entertainment-oriented estate.

Consistent with its name, the Mediterranean-themed project features terraced seating and dining areas, luxurious gardens, a two-level waterfall and a koi pond. The gravel pit was converted into a two-acre trout lake and an 8,500 square-foot pond with fountains and a white-sand “beach.” A central amphitheatre, fully wired for DJ and karaoke sessions, provides the perfect venue for lavish gatherings.

An outdoor kitchen connected to the interior kitchen has been designed with a stone grill, barbecue, fridge, fireplace, heaters and a TV lounge area. An open-air cabana with stone walls, exposed-timber ceiling beams and a communal table made from reclaimed wood can accommodate 10 or more diners, while glass panels reduce wind without intruding on the spectacular view and enabling the use of the outdoor living area year-round.

Demonstrating sensitivity to the environment, Jaheny worked with eco-friendly materials and systems using captured and recirculated rainwater to fill water features and irrigate the estate and vineyard. The infinity-edge swimming pool, hot tub and lounge areas complete the luxurious resort.



32-0635-6Merging indoors and outdoors

Sleek, clean lines define The Woodward, an impressive Southlands transformation that is an Ovation winner for Best Exterior Renovation. Among the highlights: a pool with a 48-foot-long infinity edge, a glass-tiled spa and an outdoor kitchen with a concrete “waterfall” countertop.

The project itself posed numerous challenges, including building a new foundation for an old house from underneath rather than lifting the house. “That took a lot of creativity,” says Lars Van Linge, president of Teragon Developments & Construction.

The outdoor living space was non-existent, an overgrown old English garden. Today, nano walls open up the living room to the patio where a continuous concrete walkway and sitting areas connect all exterior spaces. The project’s design focused primarily on the flow of family life from indoor to outdoor, with sandblasted architectural concrete chosen for all steps, walkways, sitting areas, pool and spa copings, the kitchen, shower and firepit. Exterior cedar siding was integrated into fencing, screens and benches.

“We were fortunate because the client was willing to invest in the property to make it sing, to make it beautiful,” Van Linge says.


16_0563_4_A_SouthlandModern and green

Naikoon Contracting won the Ovation award for Best Renovation ($300,000 to $499,999) for its Vancouver Southlands project, which transformed an existing home into a modern and energy-efficient space.

Its reconfigured outdoors area includes a sunken patio with cedar benches and a trellis, a built-in fire pit and concrete planters. A 16-foot folding bar opens the kitchen to the outdoors. An outdoor dining and sunbathing area on the upper level has access to the backyard down steps with built-in lighting.

The Winton House in North Vancouver, also by Naikoon, was a double Ovation award winner for Excellence in Innovation and Sustainability in New Residential Construction, as well as the FortisBC Award for Excellence in Energy Efficiency in New Residential Construction.

Among its notable features: solar PV panels and a green roof, a 4,200-litre underground rainwater storage tank for irrigation and thermally broken fir beams running from the patio into the kitchen. Permeable ground covers and drought-tolerant native plants replaced the existing landscape.

“Overall, we were delighted with our two Grand Ovation Awards, for Residential Renovator of the Year and then Custom Home Builder of the Year, the second year in a row,” says president Joe Geluch. “It was a great awards evening and we are thankful for the designers and architects who make all these projects possible.”


16_0563_4_A_SouthlandNatural beauty

Winner of Best Addition Renovation, My House Design Build Team’s west-coast style Contemporary Canvas project in Coquitlam harmoniously blends natural materials, using a stone feature wall as an indoor-outdoor focal point. Dark siding and slate-tile decking contrast effectively with exposed natural timber beams, with cedar-shingle siding detail for design consistency.

Thermally broken patio doors leading from the kitchen and master suite minimize heat transfer, while the covered deck offers shade, given the south/southwest exposure, with glass railings to open up backyard views. Framed-in skylights add natural light, wall sconces and a hanging pendant warm the space in the evening, and outdoor speakers tie in the homeowners’ enjoyment of the outdoors with their love of music.

A two-sided fireplace allows for all-season use of the patio, while furniture with a pop of turquoise is impervious to inclement weather.

“Our winning projects showcase the range and style and type of awards for four totally distinct homes,” says My House owner Graeme Huguet. “And we were also very proud of having our homeowners join us on stage to accept the awards.”

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