Sleek, Sustainable Modern Home
A local builder's vision for a modern, energy-efficient home takes root in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.
In the 15 years Martin Warren has called Vancouver home, he’s spent most of that time living in various areas of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood just off Main Street. So when it came time for his company Vanglo Sustainable Construction Group to take on a new project, he knew exactly which community he wanted to build in.
But while looking at a potential empty lot in the area, Warren happened to glance across the street, spotting a “derelict looking” home for sale. The only house on a street made up of townhouses, the home had boarded up windows and was overrun with weeds, and sat on a uniquely shaped 66-by-44 foot lot that went right to the sidewalk. But for all its appearance promised—or rather, threatened—Warren saw beyond it.
“It’s going to stand out whatever we do. It’s going to make a bit of a statement. That was kind of my initial reaction; I just saw it as a gem,” recalls Warren.
Knowing the house was too far-gone for a renovation, the lot became Vanglo’s first full development, and just over a year later, the finished product is a far cry from the run-down building Warren saw that first day. Shiny white Tective fibre cement panels now grace the home’s exterior, creating a sculpted effect. The linear floor plan means every room gets south facing light, and architect Oliver Lang explains that each window was carefully placed to create a certain rhythm and to provide the right amount of privacy and functionality. The three level, single family home—which features a first floor garden suite with a 275 square foot sunken patio—is also one of only three Energy Star-certified homes in Vancouver, featuring energy-efficient elements like triple panned windows and wall insulation made out of 60% recycled glass.
Inside, an inverted floor plan places the kitchen and living room on the top floor to take advantage of the vaulted, geometric ceilings, a style continued to beautiful effect in the angular white kitchen countertop and in the windows around the patio entryway. Glass railings in the stairwell and along the patio keep the light flowing through the house—a necessity due to the building’s narrow frame.
The crown jewel of the space is the 300-square-foot outdoor patio that extends from the living room, creating an indoor/outdoor flow that Warren points out is “highly useable for probably 10 months of the year at least.” Settled amongst the treetops, a Solus Decor firebox makes the space a cozy hangout in the evenings, while Hay wire chairs from Vancouver Special provide the perfect perch to people watch during the day.
“When people look at the house, they come up and look up at the vaulted ceiling and they’re like ‘Wow,’ and then their eye catches the outdoor lounge—people just bypass the kitchen and walk straight for that lounge. It’s definitely a highlight. Everyone just gravitates towards it,” Warren says.
The spirit of the neighbourhood is infused into the home through the decor, most of which came from stores and local artisans along Main Street—items like the dark grey living room sofa came from Ital Interiors, while the bright living room rug hails from Burritt Bros Carpets at the other end of Main. Warren and his team are in the process of organizing a pop-up shop in the home in an effort to promote these designers and stores and to give the public a chance to snatch up items they’ve seen while touring the space.
With its eye-catching street presence and modern, urban sensibility, it’s not surprising that Warren has become quite attached to the home, calling the project his “baby.” Although it’s currently for sale, he admits it wouldn’t be the end of the world if that didn’t work out. “It’s a very, very reluctant sale,” Warren laughs. “It’s kind of a win-win situation, cause it’s like if it didn’t sell, then I would move in in a heartbeat.”