Squamish: Design-build team creates a peaceful mountain retreat

‘Our aim was to create a soothing, simple design with soft lines and an organic undertone.’

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When interior designer Jessica Lowes stepped in to help a homeowner determine the interior design decisions for a carriage home project in Squamish, she brought along a healthy dose of relief.

The client had been working directly with builder Alair Homes, attempting to DIY the interior design of the 750-square-foot home on a lot co-owned with family members — and discovering it was a more stressful job than she thought.

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A local supplier had referred the homeowner to Lowes, who is owner and principal of Whistler’s Peak Design House.

“She was taking on all of the [interior] design decisions on her own,” recalls Lowes. “She’s a teacher, and so much of her energy goes into teaching young children.” Coming home from work to select baseboards and other finishing touches was a little bit too much.

Lowes started with 3D modelling of the space, then worked with the client on curating an esthetic that felt “simple, fresh and a touch feminine.”

house exterior
Due to an irregular lot shape and topography, this Squamish carriage home sits to the side and front of the property’s primary residence. Photo by KRISTEN MCGAUGHEY Kristen McGa
house exterior
Decks and windows are oriented to capture western views, while frosted-glass railings help maintain privacy on the street side. Photo by KRISTEN MCGAUGHEY Kristen McGa

“While we didn’t have a defined [interior design] concept per se, our aim was to create a soothing, simple design with soft lines and an organic undertone,” says Lowes. Ideally, a space where the owner could “let go of her day at the door and feel peaceful as she entered the space,” she adds.

Erron Holden of FLUX Residential + Commercial Design designed  the home’s structure and exterior. Due to an irregular lot shape and topography, the structure sits to the side and front of the primary residence, on a hillside. The owner was intent on ensuring the space had plenty of light, with windows positioned to frame the mountain views like artwork, while maintaining privacy on the street side.

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“The orientation of the house was entirely designed [by FLUX] to maximize the views to the west,” says builder Jason Zavitz, owner of Alair Homes Squamish and Whistler. “[It] also has a beautiful little outside deck that is very private, with frosted glass, and she’s looking out to this beautiful view.” A wide window on the same side serves as a focal point from the kitchen and den.

The kitchen island is narrow, at 28 inches wide, but adds much-needed counter space. By design, it’s also just long enough to pull up three stools to seat the homeowner and her two grandchildren, who live in the main house on the property.

A clean-lined kitchen features shaker-style cabinetry and invisible upper pulls to minimize visual clutter, while Moroccan-inspired tile – Tencer Mestizaje Zellige – adds subtle sheen to the backsplash. Though narrow, the island provides extra counter space, with panelling to match the cabinetry. Photo by KRISTEN MCGAUGHEY Kristen McGa
A bright red door
A bright red door adds a pop of the owner’s favourite colour, while a vintage Turkish rug brings a lived-in feel. Photo by KRISTEN MCGAUGHEY Kristen McGa

The home’s living-dining area is small but highly functional, with a custom dining table that extends when needed for entertaining. A petite sofa and plush ottomans offer soft seating in a small footprint. Layered earth tones, natural textures and off-whites add visual interest while maintaining the tranquil palette — from a hanging pampas grass sculpture to a modern rattan lounge chair and cloud-like pendant light.

A closet off the den was originally slated to have doors but instead now houses a wallpapered office nook with a desk. “When we were touring the space, once it had been framed, we realized the view out of the window was just too fantastic to put doors in front of. So that’s how the little closet office was conceived,” says Lowes.

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lounge area
A lounge area off the kitchen overlooks breathtaking mountain views framed by a boldly black-framed window. Layered textiles and poufs, alongside artwork by Squamish artist Eileen Kiyonaga, create a bohemian feel. Photo by KRISTEN MCGAUGHEY Kristen McGa
An office nook lined in botanical-print wallpaper.
An office nook lined in botanical-print wallpaper. Photo by KRISTEN MCGAUGHEY Kristen McGa

The bathroom was an exercise in “high-low” finishing, with selective splurges to elevate the space. Patterned porcelain “Chex” tile from Ontario’s Tile Inspired runs underfoot and up the shower wall, while a solid Fiora shower base gives a curbless effect, without the prohibitive cost. A glass panel substituted for a full shower door saved enough to install a higher-end temperature-control system.

One big takeaway from this project? Work with an interior designer, says Zavitz. “Some people think, oh, I have design sense. I can do that, no problem – but when it comes down to all the fine details, ensuring that each piece and each choice ties into the next . . . that’s where they run into problems,” he says.

“A designer, at the end of the day, probably saves you more money, just because of all that decision-making.”

Building Design: Erron Holden, FLUX Residential + Commercial Design

Construction: Alair Homes Squamish

Interior Design: Jessica Lowes, Peak Design House

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UPDATE: The story has been updated from an earlier version to reflect the building design, construction and interior design roles that contributed to this project.

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