Countless hours of summer fun for the kids, and an enchanting, relaxing respite for adults in this West Vancouver oasis.
Photography By Colin Perry
After living in their home for five years, the homeowners of this West Vancouver property became intrigued with the idea of adding a garden room. The prospect of a secluded, little spot outdoors where the whole family and friends could retreat to became very exciting. The couple decided to hire a designer who could give them some ideas and eventually oversee the construction of the space.
“I saw a big yard with great potential,” says Negar Reihani, the owner and principal designer at Space Harmony, a boutique interior design firm in Vancouver. “We had 600 square feet of space to work with, and my first thought was that 600 square feet is the size of a condo in downtown Vancouver!”
“But bigger doesn’t always mean better,” confirms Reihani. She quickly pointed out that large spaces can become very impersonal, if planned poorly. Luckily, the homeowners had a list of requirements, which helped her visualize the space—an elegant outdoor design that would fulfill their garden room dream.
“The goal was to create a modern, elegant yet romantic space that is both low-maintenance and child-friendly,” says Reihani. Instead of creating one gigantic outdoor kitchen, she broke the space in two with the kitchen on one side and the lounging area on the other side to provide different types of seating and a more visually interesting space.
One of the main features is the L-shaped kitchen with a large island as a focal point and centre of all the action. Positioning the kitchen at the back, close to the property line, creates privacy and seclusion. The lounge area is positioned next to the yard so the parents can relax and enjoy their beverages while watching the kids play.
The kitchen finishes are light and modern. The V-shaped, white rustic-cladding stone is topped with a grey-quartz countertop.
“The countertop resembles concrete— which was the look I was going for—but the quartz is easier to clean and much more cost-effective,” says Reihani. “I love the long trough sink in the middle of the island, it’s so useful and diverse. You could fill it up with ice and your favourite beverages or place herb planters in it for garden parties.”
“It was essential the homeowners were able to use the space during the day as well as late at night, making proper lighting crucial,” says Reihani. “The right lighting solutions can be easily overlooked in outdoor spaces but it’s a very important part of the design.”
The timber ceiling of the gazebo is partially open through the use of a generous skylight. This allows natural light to flow through to the back of the kitchen. There is a long track of lighting hidden behind one of the beams over the island, which provides ample lighting for the entire kitchen.
The lounge area is lit by a large, roundpillar candle chandelier to create a romantic ambience. Behind the sectional there are a few dimmable floor-recessed lights that add some drama to the space.
“My favourite lighting element in the space—besides the chandelier—is the whimsical moon lights,” adds Reihani. “They are hard-wired and could be moved around and used for seating, or as decorative lighting, or both.”
“With Vancouver’s weather, we needed all furnishings and final touches to be fully weather-proof while being inviting and comfortable,” says Reihani. With a 12-footlong sectional and a cluster of pillows, the lounge area is the perfect place to hang out and chill.
“The wooden structure and muted tones of the furniture put the emphasis on the lush surroundings of nature, it makes you feel like you are sitting in an elegant tree house,” says the designer. The large fire table grounds the seating area and adds warmth and sparkle at night.
“I added an invisible curtain rod behind the beam where the sectional is for sheer muslin drapes in summer. It’s an elegant feature and a good option to have for special occasions,” says Reihani. The modern, stainless-steel stools by the kitchen island are an excellent choice for outdoor use.
When asked about the pond next to the outdoor space, Reihani explained that the homeowner decided on adding the pond once the concrete was poured for the gazebo. He had wanted a water feature in the backyard but wasn’t sure which way to go. Although he considered a pool, safety concerns and the fact that it would have eliminated the grass play area for his two small kids, made him decide against it. A pond offers the best of both worlds, which is both beautiful and fun for the children.
“I’m so glad I could realize the full potential of this backyard and turn it into a relaxing oasis for the homeowners to enjoy for many years to come.”
With over 20 years design experience, Negar Reihani is known for her elegant and simple approach to high-end, polished interiors that celebrate the tastes and lifestyle of her clients. spaceharmony.ca