Located in Vancouver’s South Main neighborhood, this unique home by Falken Reynolds Interiors is a great lesson in maximizing the most of every square foot. Influenced by Scandinavia and Japan, and combined with the warm minimalist tradition of West Coast Modern architecture that originated in the 1950s, the design firm describes the style of this house as Canadian Nordic. It’s casual, functional, and in many ways, quite understated.

The home is on a beautiful tree-lined street, where most of the neighboring homes run the gamut of architectural design. This particular lot is very long and narrow, and in most blocks would be the alley or back lane. Needless to say, the design team had their work cut out for them. In a recent interview, they told us more about the proejct:

Tell us a bit about this property! How did the location influence the design?
At just 20’ wide and 200’ long (with 11 neighbouring houses) the challenge was making the house feel open and spacious without any windows along sides of the house. A series of 11 strategically placed skylights and a central courtyard allowed with large windows helped bring light into the centre of the home. 

Tell us a bit about the scope of your work on this project.
Once the architecture was developed, we massaged the interior space planning to maximize light and create the feeling of openness in some of the narrowest parts of the house. We had a strong focus on lighting – both daylight from windows and skylights as well as a mix of diffused and directional architectural lighting. The design of the millwork, the choices of materials all supported how light would make the home feel bright and airy. 

Since there is only one entry, for guests and the family, and the space was very narrow to accommodate a covered car port, we maximized the storage with full height closet a graphic coat rack as well strategically lighting the walls with linear cove lighting to make the space feel much wider. A powder room is tucked off the entry hall to keep it far from the main living spaces. 

With such a narrow space, how did you make the most of the layout?
Most of the circulation areas in the house had to double as functional rooms, so passing through the dining room and kitchen needed to feel effortless and comfortable. Again, we maximized wall space, both with a banquette bench, as well as tall kitchen cabinets that connect seamlessly into the fireplace. Much of the millwork and walls are white, detailed with wood at the touch points of finger pulls to make them more durable and add a quiet layer of warmth. 

Upstairs we strategically placed 11 skylights to wash walls with natural light and draw the eye into the room, amplifying spaciousness using the technique of Atmospheric Perspective.” In the kid’s wing of the upper floor we opted for smaller bedrooms to accommodate a bathroom, WC and lounge or study. We wanted this area to have a youthful energy so graphic tiles and the oculus add a graphic and playful element. 

What was a risk you took that ended up looking great?
Placing the dining room in the narrowest part of the house, basically in the hallway to the kitchen was gamble. Building codes allowed only a specific amount of glass for the window across from it facing into the courtyard, so we pulled the sill down floor for near seamless transition to the decking outside. Now, despite being the narrowest room in the house the dining room feels like it’s the widest, with unobstructed views into the courtyard. 

Do you have any other favorite features in the home?
The stair turned out so well and we are really proud of all the teamwork that went into pulling it together. Again, our width was limited so the challenge was making it appear wider and more spacious and also be incredibly durable. By widening the stair treads and making them look like oversized planks, the entire assembly has more visual weight and presence. The steal fin guard is super tough (we envisioned kids swinging around the corner as the ran down the stairs to run outside and play with their friends) but the precision of slicing the treads and the floor assembly as it runs up to the second floor gives the entire assembly a very light and meticulous look. Of course the details of making the metal and wood flush, concealing all the connections in the floor and ceiling demanded exacting craftsmanship and a lot of co-ordination. Combined with the skylight at the top, the thin step lights the stair feels incredibly bright and robust. 

Take a tour + snag a few sources in the slideshow.