I’m sure you’ve seen lots of model houses — all tricked out and decorated to the last cornice. But I hadn’t seen any laneway houses like that — until today!
DH and I skipped off to the IDSWest show at the new(er) convention centre. It’s always nice to wander around and see the beautiful finishings and furnishings, but the real reason I wanted to go was to tour the Homes & Living Laneway Feature Home. The home has been auctioned off in support of Alzheimers research — and it was chock full of great style and features.
It was set up in the convention center, here’s a shot of the place while it was being assembled:
you get the idea of the home, even though you can’t see the finished exterior (dark wood) or some of the walls (sleek white). The auction winner will have to provide a pad and heating system, plus a bunch of other stuff (permits, engineers report, lot to put the home on, etc.) but should get quite a lovely place out of it. Unsurprisingly, I could not take any pictures, but the home had some pretty sweet features:
- ten-foot ceilings
- an overhang and sliding glass walls that open up for outdoor entertaining
- completely built in kitchen so the dishwasher, fridge and freezer are behind cupboard doors
- a hefty wooden counter top that slides over the stove and sink to completely hide them away
- state of the art sound system that can be run from an iPad
- beautiful furniture (natch)
- floor-to-ceiling doors so it looks like the wall slides away or opens up
- the Nest thermostat, pretty impressive and affordable, too
The roof is flat and the new owner must put on the torchon to finish it. I asked twice, and no, there won’t be a living roof on the house. You could put one on, I guess, but that’s something for an engineer and the designer to confirm.
There’s a big takeaway — this is a real design experiment. That’s great, love to see so much talent and time going into the design of a laneway home, but just one caveat. If you are a decorating junky like I am, you know how “theoretical” designers can always come up with something really spectacular. Of course! They are not restricted by civic building codes, lot sizes, lot shapes, lot slopes, budgets. Put that place anywhere you want — Narnia, Wonderland, just outside Hogwarts. When you start with a completely clean slate you can do anything you want. All they had to worry about was the size. A big deal, sure, but it’s just the start of a lot of big deals.
I love looking at other laneway designs, and (IMHO) the best way to do that is with the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Laneway Tour. We took the tour last year and loved it! Lots of great ideas! But this year we won’t be able to go around — because our house is part of it! There will be more on that to come.
What else did I like about IDSWest? It’s a very nice to see all those lovely examples of finishes and accessories. And we actually saw Tommy Smythe in person!
My heart be still.
PS: The winning big was $230,000. The winner will still have to pay at least $73,000 to have the home installed on their lot. Good news for the Alzheimer’s Society!