Modern Whistler Cabin
A family cabin gets a much-needed upgrade from ’80s relic to modern marvel.
Back in 1988, when this ski-in, ski-out row house on Blackcomb Mountain was purchased, the investment certainly made sense. The man of the house has been a perennial season pass holder since he skied at neighbouring Whistler Mountain on the resort’s opening day in 1966. The kids—two sisters, then aged 14 and 10—loved snowy vacations, and downstairs there was a set of pine bunk beds for sleepovers with their friends.
A quarter-century later, the vacation home still made sense—but its interior design didn’t. Vancouver designers Kelly Reynolds and Chad Falkenberg (no strangers to Whistler chalet reboots) were enlisted to bring this space into the 21st century for the family of adults.
“It was a typical Whistler deal, a typical ’80s Whistler deal,” says Reynolds in the pair’s slick, very un-’80s offices. “Pine trim everywhere. Green-and-white striped wallpaper.”
Plenty of floral wallpaper, too. All of it was removed, and, in a few cases, the walls themselves got the boot, too. “They were looking for a lighter space,” explains Reynolds. “Both a lighter palette and a lighter feeling.” Despite a number of high windows, rooms were dark and lit mainly by floor lamps and track lighting in the kitchen. Recessed pot lights were brought to every room, and old floor lamps were subbed out for more elegant versions: a sleek Tom Dixon number with a grey felt shade; a transparent, ultra-modern Ktribe piece by Flos.
Gaining a “light” feeling also meant opening up the cramped entrance area and—since the family often hosts eight to 10 people up on weekends—creating large and free-flowing social areas (plus private baths for each of the five bedrooms). In the overhauled kitchen, a massive countertop of Princess White granite offers space for après-ski get-togethers and buffet-style meals. (The new wine fridge helps, too.)
Adding to that conviviality, Falkenberg and Reynolds went for a lightly rustic touch (in keeping with the mountain vibe); spaces needed to be high-design yet hardy. “They wanted things to be more Nordic, more Scandinavian,” says Falkenberg. That meant light oak flooring with plenty of patina and bright white walls that now extend seamlessly into the vaulted ceilings, instead of the low rise of china-pattern wallpaper that once cut off the high space’s inherent sculptural qualities.
Furnishings nod to the wilderness outside at times: a chandelier of resin faux antlers hangs above the dining table; blocks of reclaimed wood serve as stools. But really, says Falkenberg, “The Nordic feeling comes from simple gestures: clean walls, not a lot of fuss.” Clean walls also help showcase the family’s collection of photographs featuring colourful ice huts from across Canada. (In fact, the dining room wall even has a custom-built cavity for the largest photo.)
While most of this modern revision meant a clean break from the clutter and blousy drapes of the ’80s, a couple of touches from the past were maintained. Above the fireplace, a two-storey bar of grey slate detail remains (though the brass fireplace frame was pulled away), and a harvest dining table with turned legs made the cut once it was refinished and juxtaposed with a set of decidedly mod dining chairs.
And, no, the original pine bunk beds haven’t gone anywhere. See sources.
The open-concept space is perfect for hosting big groups on the weekend, and cozy textures (like woolly Texidors throw pillows on the sectional) make the space feel homey and welcoming. There’s plenty of seating to accommodate the family and guests around the oversized dining table, an original piece of the homeowners’, refinished and paired with Eames chairs. Heavy flower drapery—an ’80s relic—was replaced with subtle roller blinds throughout.