Located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Kalamalka Lake is famous for its changing colours throughout the seasons, perfectly fitting its local moniker: “The Lake of a Thousand Colours”. Within this breathtaking environment of majestic trees, surrounding mountains and of course, the lake, BLDG Workshop completed its most intricate and sensitive work to date.
Nathan Buhler, founder of BLDG Workshop was asked to design a new home in collaboration with his sister, Adrianne Bailie, interior designer and principal of Adrianne Bailie Design. Faced with the option of either tearing down the existing 1970s house or renovating, Buhler carefully considered both options before electing to renovate. In an effort to come up with a solution that would be sustainably minded as well as cost effective, the design process focused on preserving the site’s beautiful mature vegetation.
The original house was dim, clunky and didn’t take advantage of its beautiful surroundings. Contrarily, it seemed to shun natural light and views as one could barely see the lake within the home. Technically a three-storey home, its split-level layout divided it into seven distinct levels each disrupting the light and circulation of the home making it feel dark and disjointed.
Working with the existing massing of the original home, Buhler transformed the Kalamalka Lake house by paying close attention to its solar orientation and carved windows and skylights, allowing light in from many angles at various time of the day and throughout the seasons. By opening the renovated house up to the lake and its surroundings, Buhler gave it a sense of place among the trees rather than a dwelling trying to distance itself from nature.
The most pronounced example of this is the tilt-slide window that opens the entire lower level of the home to the lake. It eliminates the barrier between indoor and outdoor living, allowing the family to seamlessly transition between the beach and the house. Additions to the site that work in conjunction with this goal are a hot tub hidden underneath a retractable Ipe wood deck and a lake-level Beach Hut built by the designer’s father.
The resulting home is a modern transformation that pays homage to its mid-century roots while remaining grounded in its mature native setting. Reflecting the juxtaposed textures of the surrounding landscape, the house is clad in contrasting textures, a variegated charred cedar cladding treated in the traditional Japanese style of Shou Sugi Ban and a textureless pure white finish. As a result, the facade rhythmically alternates between the centuries-old looking Shou Sugi Ban and the immaculate white surface, giving it the appearance of a decidedly contemporary home that sits agelessly by the lake.
The homeowners can now truly experience lakeside living, through the transformation of the home. The house has been sculpted to welcome the surrounding nature into every crevice while maintaining a modern boldness and beauty that complements the landscape.