Aug 20, 2013 / 4:50 pm
Written by Jennifer Smith
It’s a good thing the okanagan offers views from one end of the valley to the other in its most elite neighbourhoods. People like Bob Drunkemolle need to see a thundercloud well before the storm.
His company, EDGE Property Excellence, looks after the kind of homes and vacation getaways a weather event can send into a tailspin.
These highly-automated properties can take two days to reprogram without timely intervention, and insurance companies have coined the term "tsunami effect" to describe what wind will do to a pair of Cobalt boats missed on the launch. It's uninsurable.
If there's a Ferrari parked year-round in the garage, an absentee owner needs to find a man like Drunkemolle, pay him to have the knowledge of an army and even more to never leave his or her employ.
"You almost have to build yourself a conspiracy theory and then look into the crystal ball to figure out how you're going to deal with every eventuality," Drunkemolle explains.
The clients he looks after want someone capable of designing and building their Okanagan hideaway, and willing to assume the reins in a man-on-the-ground role.
As the only person as invested in the property as the owner, he’s made it his business to know every geographical quirk of the region, from the soils in each neighbourhood to the wind tunnels, designing his buildings to be managed ten and twenty years down the line.
This type of project means crafting a mechanical system infinitely intricate in its performance options and as clear as mud to repair. Everything he does goes in "the book" and when he hands over this bible of information to the owner at completion, he makes sure his phone number and those of every contractor who have set foot in the home are inside.
"Really, it doesn't matter if it's an $800,000 build or $10 million. If he's sunk his whole livelihood into it, but is still working in Calgary, he's then going to want me to look after it," says Drunkemolle.
At this level, when one talks landscaping, it's about the impact a fast- growing tree's roots could have on the complex waterlines required to run a dozen bathrooms and outdoor waterfalls if no one is around to notice a problem. Xeriscaping takes a backseat to weighing the impact a native pine tree's needles could have on the septic field in ten years time.
Security is a given.
By and large, the Commissionaires are programmed to arrive on command for vandals or thieves, but hands on attention, someone who can walk through the door the second an issue crops up - or preferably before the first sign of trouble - is a must.
Looking after a vacant, high-end home takes automation of a level that affords luxuries.
Everything from the music and television to the heating and lights can now be managed off-site in a well automated home.
"I've got some people who might want to record The Masters on their television in 3D because they don't have that option in their house in Vancouver," says Kevin Barnett, owner of iQ Home Automation Ltd.
These systems ensure the music is as consistent in the ensuite bathroom as the living room, and record light patterns the week before a family leaves on vacation to be replicated when the house is empty.
The barrier between personal security and protecting every aspect of one's home is gone, according to Gary Gylytiuk, vice-president of the Kelowna-based Bolt Security Systems.
"The buzzword right now is interactive services," he says. The home is its own butler, security guard and babysitter, controlled from anywhere in the world. Using a smartphone application, parents can now get a notification when the kids arrive home and a text message if they raid the liquor cabinet.
Alarms can detect when a housekeeper or landscaper is rummaging in a private closet, and if the homeowner wants added peace of mind, automated video clips can be sent via email or text.
"More and more people are putting in cameras inside, as well as outside, their home, especially in larger homes and new construction," says Gylytiuk.
As geothermal heating takes longer to manipulate, he also knows homeowners who optimize comfort and energy bills by turning up the heat or air conditioning from their car on the way home.
He has one customer saving $600 monthly in property management fees by setting her multi-unit rental up so she can unlock the building for temporary guests from off-site.
And come winter, an automated home can help the owner ensure the pipes won’t burst with an alter to turn up the heat in a cold snap.
In other words, in an era when managing property is par for the course, the Okanagan’s technical wizards and business minds have it down to a science.
Aug 15, 2013 / 9:19 am
Written by Darcy Nybo | Photography by Lipsett Photography Group
When Nicole Begrand-Fast was approached by the owner of this Kelowna beach home for an update, she understood exactly what they needed; a home away from home – Okanagan style.
“They wanted a place to come and relax with their family in the summer in Kelowna,” says Nicole. “And they wanted a fresh and user-friendly home away from home.”
The cottage-y feel of the beach house was offset with contemporary pieces throughout. For paint, they used Farrow and Ball, which has a natural pigment in the paint so there is no off-gassing.
The master suite washes away your cares with sand and soft blue tones. “We used linen on the headboard and played off of that with a contemporary piece here and there,” says Nicole, “like the grey ghost chair.”
The second bedroom is at once rustic and dreamy with a wood painted headboard and contemporary Jonathan Adler Capri lamps. “We put a little daybed in there with a netting canopy for seating, company and sleepovers,” explains Nicole.
The third bedroom has storage galore built into the custom-made cabinets. “It accommodates TV watching as well as toy and game storage, with plenty of space left over for clothes,” says Nicole.
The kitchen, dining area and living room is one long continuous space that leads right out onto the beach. Easy to clean fabrics, a splash of blue here and there and you’ve got the perfect space for family and entertaining.
From the linen-covered seating to the Herman Miller cream lounger, the living area of this beach house is as inviting as the beach right outside the doors.
Jul 12, 2013 / 2:17 pm
Written by Darcy Nybo | Photography by Colin Jewall Photography
Outdoor lighting is more than visible walkways and street numbers; it can increase your security and create a beautiful outdoor living space at night.
A beautifully landscaped yard can be even more appealing with the right type of lighting. Outdoor lighting provides added security for vulnerable spots and it may save you from a stubbed toe or two. At the same time you can paint the night with light and create a nighttime oasis.
"Lighting your yard enables you to enjoy it through all the four seasons of the year," says Candace Weimer, who recently purchased Artistic Lighting Design with her husband Jordy. "When lights are strategically placed, they can also be seen and enjoyed from inside as well. A well lit tree in the winter is a completely different piece of art in the summer."
"The property looks like it has more depth when you light it properly," explains Jordy. "The light keeps the yard aglow, and with these warm Okanagan evenings, you can entertain long into the night. Many people have putting and pitching greens in their yards so they can go out at night and continue to play."
Lighting up your yard isn't as expensive as some may think. With green alternative LED lights homeowners can save money and energy. "You can light or dim zones, depending on the atmosphere you want in your yard," says Jordy. "My favourite things to light are trees. Maple and willow trees look phenomenal with the inside canopy lit up."
Rock walls, gardens, pathways, driveways, docks, water features, steps, anything and everything in your yard can be hidden or highlighted depending on how and where you place your outdoor lighting.
"Standard lighting creates shadows and sheds harsh light on everything in view," says Candace. "We only highlight what is important to you. The surroundings emerge from under subtle landscape lighting to create a magical view of your attractive outdoor spaces."
Jul 10, 2013 / 4:27 pm
Written by Darcy Nybo | Photography by Shawn Talbot Photography
Flexibility, functionality, and fabulous, all in one summer home.
This active family wanted to spend their time enjoying the Okanagan in a low-maintenance space that worked for everyone. Thanks to the collaborative effort of Barnett Construction, Robert Bailey Interiors, and the homeowner, they achieved just that.
"We used Loewen Windows and Doors for all the windows and doors for the home," explains Barnett. "They engineer all their products here in BC so we never have a problem with the form, fit and function of the windows and doors."
The first thing one notices about this home is the masonry. "It's all handcrafted full stone, it's not a veneer product," says Barnett. "Rob Lemieux from Lemieux Masonry stacked it in a dry stack pattern. The stacked stone was then continued through to the inside to create a rustic/modern look. In keeping with that feel, the fireplace was created by Fusion Metal and is made entirely of steel."
Oak on the floor and ceiling of this home give the rooms a modern minimalistic feel, while at the same time making it comfortable and elegant.
Some of the more unique things about this home are what you don't see. Barnett explains, "The home is built without visible air exchange grills. We used geothermal to heat and cool the home. The house has radiant heat and radiant cooling to control the climate. iQ Home Automation installed the distributed audio/video and lighting control throughout the home, that extends right to the end of the property."
The furnishings were chosen to achieve one goal, and that was comfort. Inside and out, this home was created to maximize summer pleasure and last for generations to come.
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