Home Design DIY: Japanese Influence Meets West Coast Style

A Surrey couple's two-year remodelling project sees their 2,000-square-foot home transformed as West Coast style meets Japanese design

Credit: Terry Guscott / Styling by Heather Cameron

Oversized light fixtures illuminate the great room, luring guests from the front doorway

Clean lines and sharp edges are softened by capricious touches and hints of Japanese style in this contemporary West Coast abode

For most people, the word “normal” may conjure a clutch of positive connotations, but it’s not a term that the owners of this Surrey residence ever wanted to apply to their home. Rod and Febe, both successful professionals, opted to personalize their space in a way that surpassed expectation. 

That’s not to suggest that the two-storey stone-and-cedar manse – tucked behind a wrought-iron gate at the foot of a quiet residential street – borders on the bizarre. Rather, the 2,000-square-foot home is an airy retreat that is at once simple, sleek and sophisticated. 

And, thanks in part to a wealth of whimsical touches, no one stepping through the doorway of Rod and Febe’s home would dare call it ordinary. 

Oversized Light Fixtures Create Welcoming Allure

Case in point: a trio of oversized light fixtures illuminate the great room, luring guests – perhaps by design – to gravitate from the front doorway, across a spacious entryway bedecked with black hardwood floors and stonework pillars, toward a sunken living area. So standout are these lights, glowing overhead like large harvest moons, that they help elevate the space into a showroom. 

The couple, which worked closely with architect Gord Klassen at Sitelines throughout the home’s two-year design process, suggested this bright idea after they spotted similar fixtures at P. F. Chang’s China Bistro in Palm Springs. 

The funky yet functional fixtures were a perfect remedy for warming up a space with soaring 14-foot ceilings, multiple windows and sharp angles. “The room is very symmetrical, very precise, so there was the risk it could look a little cold or stark,” Febe explains.

To counter this, they employed some simple tactics to thaw an otherwise frigid room. “We didn’t want people to clam up in here, so we painted the walls in a cinnamon shade and added a few whimsical elements.” Another atypical touch? A textured throw rug comprised of chocolate-coloured wafers anchors a white leather sofa.

With sunlight streaming from multiple windows and a nearby gas fireplace flickering, the room is a perfect spot for cosying up with a novel – and there are many choices close at hand thanks to a nearby black bookcase that’s as fashionably sleek as its surroundings. “We deliberately chose to not put a TV in here,” says Febe, gesturing toward an imposing black wall unit adorned with an oversize decorative urn rather than a de rigueur television set. “We wanted this room to be for reading and having a conversation.” 

West Coast Style with a Hint of Japanese

From the living area, the home’s open-
concept design allows a generous glimpse of the kitchen. It’s a room that may best reflect the couple’s overall vision for the home, which they describe as “West Coast contemporary with a hint of Japanese.” Wooden beams sourced from local trees and rockwork pillars supply the West Coast quotient. The Japanese influence is suggested by streamlined black cabinetry and shoji-style 
sliding doors that enclose a spacious pantry.

The Kitchen

An immaculate space, it would be practically sacrilege to imagine a pot of bubbling spaghetti sauce ever spattering the walls of this kitchen. Like the rest of the house, it’s ultra-linear, inspiring the couple to add a few touches of contrasting shapes, like a curvy set of chairs tucked up to a cocoa-coloured island, and overhung by a row of Vancouver designer Omer Arbel’s cast-glass pendant lights that resemble gleaming globes of ice.

It’s a decor choice, Febe muses, that may have been subconsciously influenced by her Nordic heritage. 

A long hallway boasts another set of sleek Japanese-style sliding doors, one of which leads to a funky home office that features a sloped ceiling and walls awash in a juicy shade of mango. Another door leads to the couple’s master bedroom, a striking black-and-white sanctuary. 

The Bedroom

There’s a lot to love in the bedroom, including a king-sized deck bed with custom architectural headboard, a celebrity-size walk-in closet and a fully appointed ensuite. But for Febe, it’s the bank of horizontal windows that makes this room extra special. “The shadows they create are beautiful. And in the mornings, I love to lie in bed and see the trees blow, watch the birds – even eagles sometimes. [The window] puts a frame on the world outside in a way that is quite interesting.”

The Games and Media Rooms

If the home’s top floor is all simplicity and sophistication, the lower floor is definitely the wild child. As guests to the residence descend a staircase illuminated with LED puck lights, they’ll find no sober neutral tones once they reach their destination. Instead, they’re greeted with walls boldly painted in high-contrast hues of lime green and chocolate, with two nearby bedrooms splashed in a vibrant shade of cranberry. “We wanted to punch it up down here,” says Rod. “We thought it’s an area of the house where we could go more adventurous.”

When the kids aren’t in the games room, complete with a pool table, they can usually be found relaxing in the media room. And conveniently, the room is designed to retain sound, so the couple isn’t disturbed by the noise of explosions while sitting upstairs, enjoying a glass of wine. 

And on those occasions when they do crave a nice glass of California red, all they have to do is shuffle over to their wine cellar, a narrow nook capable of storing up to 1,200 bottles, and peruse the myriad labels they have collected. No wonder, Rod admits with a sly grin, it’s one of his favourite features of the home. 

So how did this husband and wife, who together made “literally hundreds” of design decisions in the creation of their home, manage to personalize the space in a way that appeals to them both? Their similar natures definitely helped, says Febe, adding, “It’s fair to say that we both like order and control.” 

While that may certainly explain their penchant for a living space that’s simple and clean-lined, what about all those touches of whimsy? “Are we whimsical?” Febe asks with a smile, directing an inquiring glance at her husband.

Whatever the answer, it’s clear that the couple, neither of whom boasts any formal training in interior design, did a remarkable job on their home of one year. The reward for all their efforts? “We love this place!” Rod declares happily.

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.