- October 30, 2019
MODERN SCANDINAVIAN FARMHOUSE IN LANGLEY
Designing two homes only blocks apart has its advantages. As PlaidFox designers Ben Leavitt and Kelly O’Quinn worked on designing two new-builds in the same Langley neighborhood (one, a minimalist Scandinavian-inspired home, the other, a modern historical farmhouse), they allowed the two designs to play off each other and influence each home in a subtle way.
As the interior design for the farmhouse progressed from concept to reality, it began to adopt some of the nordic sensibilities from its nearby neighbour, creating a uniquely serene and cozy aesthetic.
This modern farmhouse in Strawberry Hills—an area just outside the charming riverside community of Fort Langley—sits nestled in the woods with nearly three acres to roam. While the property is large, the home’s interior was designed to feel cozy and intimate. To do this, the designers traded wide-open spaces for more private conversation pockets—a feature more typical of classic farmhouses.
“With the rise in popularity of the now expected ‘great room’—a vast sprawling sea of sofas and televisions—our homes have lost one extremely important element: the ability to salaciously gossip in privacy, far from the ears of our spouses and children,” says Leavitt. “The first thing we did to the home when approached with the architectural plans was to add intimate spaces, avoiding cavernous, unusable, showy spaces.” The installation of three Sputnik chandeliers (made from bleached twigs) visually lowers the ceiling, which helps the space feel more cozy, while adding sculptural interest. “Hanging those lights was like walking on thin ice,” explains Leavitt. “It was risky, but thrilling, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.”
The design of the kitchen borrows from both past and present, as high-gloss upper cabinetry is paired with rustic white oak shakers below. Overall, the kitchen’s cabinetry is a lesson in mixing and matching, and uses a total of four different finishes: high gloss white flat-panel doors on the upper cabinets, matte-painted grey on the island, rustic white oak shakers on the lower cabinets, and dark forest green shakers in the prep area.
“When you can’t decide which is the best colour, the answer may very well be to use them all,” says Leavitt, which was the case with many spaces in the home. The master bathroom for instance has farmhouse sinks, made entirely from marble, that are paired with polished concrete counters, black wood floors and a freestanding, farmhouse-style polished nickel bathtub (which was made by hand in Florida and weighs just under 800 pounds).
Knowing the basement of the house would be the playground for the family’s young children, the main floor sitting room was treated as more of a place to perch after dinner—a tech-free socializing zone, or modern-day parlour, if you will.
While each room in this Strawberry Hills farmhouse carries a “more is more” attitude, layering multiple textures, colours and finishes, the overall structure gives the home a more pared-down, nordic farmhouse feel, relying heavily on organic materials to bring warmth and depth into the home.
The designers chose the home’s Scandinavian palette—a muted array of soft-toned neutrals—to create a sense of calmness, but they still wanted to make sure the home had the spunk and attitude characteristic of a young family. Rooms such as the main-floor powder room with its encaustic patterned floor, concrete sink and quirky artwork (a framed page ripped from a biology textbook), give the feeling that the home is not to be taken too seriously. “Other than the pristine white linen chairs in the sitting room, pretty much everything is fair game for the kids’ roughhousing,” laughs Leavitt.
“While I constantly profess that colour is the spice of life, I recognize that some people need to transition slowly,” he says. “To those clients, I always say contrast is the next best thing. This home’s kitchen for instance was really transformed by the stark black tile and oversized saddle-style counter stools. Same goes for the mudroom’s jet-black cabinets and contrasting charcoal grout.
Good design is not linear. Instead, it is adaptable, flexible and above all else, it should be fun.”