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Designer Jillian Harris wanted a traditional, timeless look for the PNE Prize Home

Some of us harbour fantasies of eschewing responsibilities and living the freewheeling life of a ski bum, or at least retiring to a mountainside that’s dotted with them. This year’s PNE Prize Home, which lands in the middle of Sun Peaks Resort, fulfills that fantasy

With such a picturesque alpine setting, you might think the home would be diminished by the big view. However, the three-bedroom, three-bathroom house with 20-foot vaulted ceilings, chef’s kitchen and wrap around deck could hardly be called a ski cabin.

Jillian Harris, former contestant on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and co-designer on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition TV shows, designed this year’s prize. The ambitious young designer, who will host the new W Network spin off Love It or List It Vancouver airing in January 2013, admits the project was daunting.

new-pne_1.jpg"I designed homes from the ground up for Extreme Makeover, but when only given two weeks to complete, you aren’t as hard on yourself when things don’t turn out as planned. Also, the camera can work around mistakes, hiding them from viewers. But the PNE Prize Home’s 300,000 visitors walk through scrutinizing every single detail," says Harris.

Harris found it challenging to choose all the finishings from window frames to drawer hardware while travelling on location for work in Europe, across the United States and Canada.

"It was a little scary. But on final 'reveal' day, I saw that I’d captured how I originally wanted the home to feel," she said.

Traditional Chalet Meets Modern Comforts

The house's exposed beams, three stone fireplaces, mixed-wood surfaces and ample windows scream traditional chalet. But Harris’s trademark polished redneck, hiker-in-high-heels image is visible throughout.

The master bedroom’s ensuite bathroom is located within its own rotunda overlooking the view. It has a luxurious soaker tub that sits beneath a chandelier beside an opulent Carrara marble-tiled shower.

The main floor’s star attraction is an ultra-contemporary plate-glass walk-in wine vault located underneath the stairs.

"To reflect your personality, your home should be layered with many styles. I never combine furniture that is matchy-matchy. I want it to look pieced together as if elements were added over the course of years. Although I am only 32, I am very traditional, and prefer timelessness," said Harris.

Harris’s Design Secrets

Balance Boxy Spaces
Although the main floor has expansive ceilings, its rooms are not overly large. To ensure that the ceiling didn’t dwarf the space, just a few large-scale furnishings were combined with small accessories. In the dining room, oversized lantern light fixtures were suspended to bring the ceiling down, and floor-to-ceiling cream drapes hang from the 20-foot windows for balance. Harris added larger furniture in that room. She placed two tall stuffed end chairs on either side of shorter unmatched side chairs around the heavy, mid-sized dining table to avoid a "king’s castle dining" look.

Prefab Doesn't Have to be Predictable
This home doesn’t look standardized. Harris constantly pushed boundaries, collaborating with the builder to construct what she wanted. The result is a progressive prefab design.

Create a Centrepiece
The kitchen’s cream-coloured cabinetry, crown mouldings and backsplash create a backdrop for an unexpected focal point: a smoky-blue cooking island with black industrial pendant lights above. Open cabinets filled with antique books and mason jars are juxtaposed against modern stainless steel appliances.

Mix Old with New
Harris handpicked pieces from Value Village to go alongside those from sponsors CountryFurniture and Lane Home Furnishings. The result is one-of-a-kind decorative accessories such as vintage skis and snowshoes paired with very contemporary lighting and hardware.

Layer Looks
Overlap different styles to personalize the home. This house combines French provincial, rustic country, craftsman and modern styling.

Take Risks
Mixing elements requires experimentation to discover what works and what doesn’t. For the PNE Prize Home, furniture was ordered months in advance of completion. Once the furniture arrived some of it didn’t work together or fit the space and had to be adjusted.

The PNE Prize Home Lottery is an annual lottery that takes place each summer in conjunction with the Pacific National Exhibition. The grand prize package includes a brand new home. This year’s home, designed by Harris, will be relocated to Sun Peaks Resort.

Originally published in BC Home & Garden magazine. For regular updates, subscribe to our free Home and Garden e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the magazine.