Asian Aesthetic Blends Inside Design with Outdoor Landscaping

A Victoria home is designed to create a sanctuary surrounded by nature and filled with treasured artwork

Credit: Jo-Ann Richards

Every interior space has been designed with an eye to the outdoors

In a European house, the garden does not affect the interior design, which differs from Japanese design where the garden is part of the house. This home design creates a sanctuary surrounded by nature and filled with treasured artwork

Stepping through the Asian-inspired gate to the Victoria home of Louis Marrero and Sandi Parshall, guests sneak a peek of the artistic, contemporary design waiting inside. 

To the left, semi-transparent polycarbonate garage doors replicate the look of a Japanese screen, offering privacy while flooding the space with natural light. The custom gate, recently amended to bar the voracious deer that like to visit, opens to a pathway bordered in rustling bamboo that leads to the garden courtyard and entry. 

A concrete sculpture with a trio of rectangular openings – the concept of Zebra Designs’ Rus Collins – offers just a glimpse of the garden beyond. The structure also creates a cozy entry, focused on the wood-trimmed etched glass doors depicting kelp waving underwater, further hinting at the artistic vision that waits inside.

glass-etched doors with kelp motif
IMAGE: Japanese screens and a fountain are outdoor elements that reflect the Asian esthetic indoors. In similar fashion, the entry door, with a kelp motif etched in glass, is a nod to the home’s location overlooking the Haro Strait

If their steps follow the path beyond the entry and into the courtyard, visitors are treated to a roomy patio and structured garden of roses, manicured shrubs and colourful perennials, and the focal point: a large tile-and-stone waterfall and fountain, inspired by the Japanese kimono hanging inside the adjacent dining room.

Home and Garden Mirror One Another with Similar Design Elements

Every interior space has been designed with an eye to the outdoors, so it was essential that the gardens and patios be equally inviting. With the great room spilling out through French doors to the private suburban escape, the inside-out effect is enhanced by the sound of water falling gently over the kimono-inspired fountain. 

Creating a home and garden to display cherished artwork collected from the couple’s travels to Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Africa and beyond was essential. “I wanted to be able to really feature the artwork,” says Parshall, an interior designer and weaver who also made sure to include room in her floorplan for a weaving studio. 

design highlights decorative art and inspires outdoor landscaping
IMAGE: Treasured art pieces collected from exotic travels feel right at home in the open space, where expansive windows bring the outdoors inside.

Designed by the homeowners and Christopher Developments, with help from Collins, the home offers 2,500 square feet of main-floor living, with another 600 square feet or so of finished space downstairs – Marrero’s home office, library and games area – with ample storage and a second as-yet-unfinished room that may become a home theatre in the future. Although they downsized from their larger home, “this is intimate for two, but spacious enough for a cocktail party for 40,” Parshall says.

Open Concept Design Brings Outdoors Inside

In approaching the design and build of their custom home overlooking the Haro Strait, Marrero and Parshall brought a checklist of experiences – good and bad – from each of their previous homes, a list that helped the couple refine their list of ideal features.

“We moved from North Saanich and we wanted a smaller house and smaller land – 
easier to take care of – but with a view,” Parshall recalls.

Next on the list were clean, elegant lines, organic textures and soft, earth-inspired tones to complement an open layout ideal for both relaxing and entertaining, with expansive windows positioned to enjoy the gardens. “My big thing about this design is continuity, repetition and flow,” says Parshall.

Numerous windows and ceilings ranging from nine to 14 feet expand the open-concept design. Neutral walls – punctuated by occasional hits of colour – further enlarge the space and provide the ideal backdrop for the paintings, sculptures and fabric art. 

Functional Design and Clean Lines Create Visual Interest and “Grounded” Look

The kitchen is a visual treat with horizontal caramelized bamboo cabinetry. The large island is designed with the look of a clean-lined table, where stools tuck neatly beneath the front, flanked by two wine racks.

bamboo cabinets and built in wine racks are functional and visually interesting

The soft horizontal lines and finished upper display spaces prevent the lofty ceilings from feeling too vast, while built-in appliance garages, cupboards for recycling and Lazy Susans in the corners complement the esthetics, creating a kitchen that works beautifully for a couple that enjoys entertaining.

“I’m a believer in form following function,” Parshall says, pointing out how she carefully measured and planned each cupboard to ensure they would accommodate her many cook’s tools. 

Design Accents

Outside, a second patio expands the kitchen with an easy-access grill area and room to relax in the morning sun or afternoon shade.

Dark jatoba wood flooring draws the eye throughout the main living area, while a 
double-sided gas-burning fireplace trimmed in porcelain tiles both delineates and accents the dining and living rooms. 

Overheight maple doors have received custom treatment with one-third stained mahogany and marked with an elegant pinstripe detail.

Modern amenities include an efficient heat pump and gas furnace, comfy-on-the-toes in-floor heated tiled bathrooms and a zoned, programmable lighting system that can change the mood with the press of a button.

A restful shade of blue paint graces the wall of the master bedroom. Opening off this room is a third inviting patio, adjacent to the kitchen patio, where carefully designed landscaping offers privacy to enjoy a sunny morning coffee. Both spaces are separated from the quiet street with deep garden beds filled with rhododendrons, holly, deer-resistant perennials and grasses reflecting the property’s proximity to the ocean and beach.

Home Owner Sandi Parshall Shares Tips on Building a New House from the Ground Up

Square Footage: 2,500 sq ft upstairs and 600 sq ft downstairs.

Construction Costs: About $700,000.

Focus: “The focus of this house is the views – the privacy in the courtyard, the outside views and the open plan for entertaining,” says Parshall.

Greatest Challenge: “Getting my husband to visualize my vision,” says Parshall, laughing. Husband Louis Marrero is a psychotherapist.

Biggest Steal: Saving $14,000 at Direct Buy through deals on appliances, tile, lighting and plumbing fixtures.

Biggest Splurge: “The multi-layered lighting.” This allows for programmable, zoned lighting for reading, cooking or entertaining.

Worst Decision: The dark jatoba flooring. While it looks great, it also shows all the dust and dirt.

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.