On this past fall’s Vancouver MA+DS Modern Home Tour, tour-goers were in for a treat at a stop in West Vancouver’s British Properties: a stunning 6-bedroom, 8-bathroom residence that marries West Coat contemporary with modern Italian elegance. The home belongs to and was designed by husband-and-wife team Michael and Jennifer Gottschalk – Michael, the architect, drew up the design plans, and Jennifer, the interior designer, also took point as construction manager.
Michael is also the visionary behind Blu Bathworks, an innovative Canadian modern bathware design-house and manufacturer. Crafting bold, architectural-caliber bathware, Blu Bathworks fixtures were both the starting point and inspiration for the Gottschalk home.
We sat down with Jennifer and Michael Gottschalk to talk about their home, Blu Bathworks, and the ever-evolving state of modern design in Vancouver.
Q&A w/ Jennifer and Michael Gottschalk
This home represents a “new, modern way of thinking about architecture and our place in it.” Can you articulate the vision of modern that your home embodies?
Our vision for our home was for a West Coast contemporary feel. For us, this meant an open concept plan and an experience of space and light. We achieved this by giving volume to each room gained through high ceilings and generous sized rooms, the use of over-height doors (9’) and expansive, floor to ceiling windows and glass doors where the design called for it. On the exterior, we used a combination of natural materials, such a cedar siding and wall shake combined with more structural materials such as concrete & steel elements, all of which will withstand the weather typical of the West Coast with minimal maintenance required. The architectural style utilizes generous overhangs & a flat roof to protect & endure all weather conditions.
The interior features spacious rooms emitting a feeling of luxury. We exposed the steel structural elements within wherever possible & incorporated them into the interior design scheme. Oversized windows let in an abundance of natural light and afford transparency to the exterior. We used a limited, tone-on-tone colour scheme and select materials are carried continuously through the house to evoke a sense of flow. A feeling a calm and effortlessness is achieved.
As a husband-and-wife architect/designer duo, how did you approach the design process for this home?
Michael and I mostly work together on projects whether it be for clients or ourselves. Michael’s focus is on the limitations/opportunities of the building site, the architecture of the building and the landscape. He is the big picture thinker. I focus on the interior and exterior details, colours, materials, products and working to a budget. I am a detailed thinker. Together we both develop the design and refine and improve until we have the final look and feel that we set out to achieve. The execution is often a joint effort.
The home features custom materials, appliances, & fixtures — including, of course, Blu Bathworks! How did you decide on the materials you used for the space?
Being in the custom home business for 20 plus years affords a wealth of knowledge and contacts. We were fortunate to be able to use an international network of contacts to source the most suitable materials available and within our design goals. Of course, having full access to the beautiful bathrooms fixtures from Blu Bathworks was both a starting point for the design of the house and an inspiration. The use of Blu Bathworks fixtures definitely gave us a focus with which to channel our ideas and aspirations, leading to the convergence of these ideas and ultimately evolving the final plan.
What aspect of the home are you most proud of?
We are most proud of the overall look and feel achieved in the parameters we set for ourselves. We feel that the end product reflects a special house of high quality, unique design and well executed features wrapped into a warm, welcoming home in a West Coast contemporary package.
How do you see the culture of modern design evolving in Vancouver and BC?
I think we will see more and more modern designs evolving in Vancouver and BC as the population ages and the younger set of home owners, builders, designers & architects continue to source and use new and improved materials inside and out. The construction industry is constantly introducing new and exciting materials that often offer more sustainable, durable and cost effective options to materials that have been used in the past. There are so many more choices in the market giving many more ways to combine and execute for fresh, innovative, progressive architecture.
Where do you see your craft going?
I see us continuing to seek out new directions and trends both locally, nationally and internationally to source and evolve new designs both architecturally and within the Blu Bathworks realm to feed the ever-changing, ever-evolving tastes and requirements of our customers and ourselves alike.