Modern nod to retro design

Written by Laura Goldstein / Photography by Janis Nicolay Photography

When Liquidity Winery president and art collector, Ian MacDonald began designing his home on the Naramata bench and simultaneously, the VIP suite at his Okanagan falls winery, his passion for 50’s and 60’s Italian modern design took the lead. 

Ian MacDonald was influenced by the same iconic interiors and furniture that helped make the AMC TV show, Mad Men a retro hit.

“I worked in advertising for many years in Montreal, but without all that drinking and smoking in Mad Men,” laughs MacDonald. “What that experience did give me was an appreciation for art and layout, all driven by branding. I’ve applied that knowledge and need to engage the public at Liquidity Winery, through all aspects of design, landscaping, sculpture, food and wine working together, even before one enters the front door.” 

It was a small 1,240 square-foot bungalow built in the 50s on an 8.5-acre property on the Naramata Bench that caught MacDonald’s eye. Sitting atop a steep embankment, with spectacular views of Okanagan Lake, he saw the potential immediately. A 70 year-old boathouse, MacDonald has since renovated, was a bonus. He dubbed the property “Flying Leap” because it was a leap of faith to build on gullied land that could be problematic.

“We tried to save the foundation but some of those slopes had geotechnical issues that could be susceptible to water damage, so building was driven by a design challenge of using the existing footprint, says Nicholas Hill, President, Ritchie Contracting & Design Ltd., who also built Liquidity Winery and its VIP re-vamp. 

The triumvirate of MacDonald, Hill and Connie Young of Connie Young Design, Calgary, had already worked together on the Liquidity Winery build in 2012. “We understood Ian’s vision, paying homage to modern winemaking, architecture and design, as well the importance of his collections of art and vintage furniture pieces. The collaborative challenge was how to translate all of that into his personal home,” Young explains. 

Their solution was to design and build a 3,000 square-foot, split-level, steel and beam contemporary home with an imposing cement cantilevered 2nd floor. MacDonald asked Hill to dig-out the basement for two guest bedrooms, a media room and small galley kitchen with a cedar and glass walkout to the terrace. “I love it because it looks like a big art gallery,” enthuses MacDonald. “I wanted a box that would be like a big viewfinder to the panoramic scenery here.” 

“It was a crazy time in 2013 because as Nick was building the house in Naramata, I was staying in the VIP suite at Liquidity Winery that was also under construction, MacDonald admits.

The Home

A custom floating zig-zag walnut staircase leads from the split-level and front door up to the open concept 42 square-foot by 22 square-foot great room, a minimalist’s sanctuary. Facing west, floor-to-ceiling triple-glazed windows allow an eagle eye view for miles along Okanagan Lake. Motorized shades can easily shutter the summer’s intense dry heat, while some windows open to catch a cross-breeze. 

“It’s a sleek, timeless look and its beauty truly is in the details that are mostly hidden from the viewer,” says Hill. “There is absolutely no trim in the great room and the kitchen and cabinets, by Vancouver’s Room8, have no pulls. The walnut cabinets hide the fridge and a coffee bar, behind which is a pantry.” Two large islands, one with a composite sink molded right into it for prepping; the other a walnut slab dining table with pull-up white Spoon bar chairs by Kartell, provide front row seats to the best art show in town – nature.

Like an endless infinity pool, the seamless, polished salt and pepper textured cement floor with radiant heating, seamlessly meets white walls (no baseboards) throughout the home. They are the perfect neutral canvas for MacDonald’s extensive art collection. 

“We took our inspiration from Ian’s abstract painting, Arbutus II by John Dann. In fact the wide black glass fireplace was designed specifically to accommodate the positioning of the painting above it and really makes the great room sing,” says Young. Other pops of colour that punctuate the otherwise stark white great room, are found in the vivid woven sari silk area rug by Eilersen (not pictured), leather Baxter furniture and fuchsia beanbag chair by Pianca. The great room segues into a small office library and powder room. But it’s the 14-foot sunken tub in the master bedroom, framed by 7-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, that’s the biggest wow-factor with friends who visit MacDonald’s home. ”Actually, we’ve noticed that this look of the tub in the bedroom, is a growing trend among our clients and we’ve created a niche for ourselves when we build them into contemporary homes, says Ritchie’s, Nicholas Hill. “Ian and I custom picked the statuary Carrara marble surrounding the tub, in Vancouver. We also used it in the adjoining ensuite’s walk-in shower and for the vanity located between a private water closet with built-in cabinetry, and the shower.” “It’s certainly a way to be fully immersed with the spectacular views,” jokes MacDonald “and I’m far enough away from other properties to not have to worry about privacy.”

Liquidity Winery VIP Suite

“The modern architecture, design and build of the VIP suite really follows the same natural flow from that in Ian’s home and the winery,” Young explains. 

Built one floor above the Bistro and Tasting Room to accommodate his business partners or visiting artists, the 1,500 square-foot open concept two-bedroom luxury suite is almost like living right in the vineyards! Light streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows framing the undulating slopes, with a private lap pool and terrace below. 

Says Young, “You know, Ian has this knack of bringing in just the right people to realize his parallel design strategy for both properties and it really worked.”


A Reno That Refreshes

Written by Darcy Nybo / Photography by Colin Jewall Photo Studios Inc. 

This Lower Mission home needed some attention to detail, and Shonna Fox of Shonna Fox Design did just that. She married the relationship between a traditional exterior, with an interior full of contemporary spirit.

Upon entry to the home your eyes are met with a creamy white palate on the walls, chrome and crystal light fixtures and lacquered maple flooring, giving the house a sense of lightness and a modern feel.

This home required a true vision. Fox updated the entire main floor, including creating a larger island in the kitchen, refinishing and adding new cabinetry, adding ceiling lighting and reupholstering the kitchen’s nook area.

To add function to the family room the TV and fireplace were incorporated into one wall. Stone was carried across to combine old and new.

In the main floor master suite, all was taken down to the studs. Two closets were combined to offer an elegant walk-in and the ensuite redesigned to offer a spa-like feel.

New furnishings throughout reflect the owners’ sense of style. Fox took dead space on the second floor landing and created a gallery feel. “On the second floor there was a 42” space between the railing and the wall. It wasn’t enough room for an office as the ceiling is sloped,” Fox explains. “I created a collage of family travel photos in metal hammered frames, which can be seen from the foyer when you enter the house.”

This home is an example of Fox’s skill in creatively pulling together a fabulous look.


Manage Your Home Remotely

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.


Refreshing Beach Designs


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.

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Okanagan Home
About the Publisher

Okanagan Home Publisher – Justin O’Connor

Justin’s passion for the Okanagan and the luxury homes it has to offer is apparent in every issue of Okanagan HOME Magazine.

Distributed throughout Western Canada, Okanagan HOME Magazine is the valley's premier architecture, design and real estate publication. It shines a spotlight on the top local builders, developers, architects, designers and homeowners.

With a passion for the Okanagan lifestyle, Justin lives and keeps Okanagan HOME Magazine  headquartered in beautiful Kelowna, BC. With the help of marketing partner, Lexabi Communications, the Okanagan HOME TEAM are your source for all things HOME in the Okanagan.

Visit the online version of Okanagan home or email us if your home has a story to tell – they’re always eager to reveal the beauty of the most exclusive Okanagan homes.


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