Westhills takes a thoroughly modern turn in house design

The design is edgy and modern, with glass walls, stainless-steel railings and an upper-level mezzanine-style living room warmed by a slim electric fireplace.

Yet the home’s interiors are comfortable and welcoming, thanks to the natural finishes and just a hint of classic, mid-century-modern styling.

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Interior designer Lana Lounsbury said Langford developer Westhills Land Corp. wanted “to go modern but with a natural feel” in its new Contempo series of homes, so she played with the volumes, added a cubist element to the fireplace and used many natural elements to soften the sharp edges.

Victoria Design Group did the floor plan for this home, one of the most striking features of which is an open-concept entry with a living room located above.

“We took wood down the stairs, from the risers to the treads, for a waterfall effect, and mixed three different tiles in the entrance,” said Lounsbury, who used a travertine lookalike on the floor, with pebbles along the wall and split-face travertine up the wall.

“The travertine-look porcelain tile is light and very low-maintenance,” she said, while the weathered oak laminate on the living room and kitchen floors complements the similarly toned natural-oak veneer chosen for the kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

While many fireplaces are faced in stone, tile or wood these days, this designer opted for a different treatment altogether.

“Fireplaces are sometimes done by specialty carpenters or stone masons, but we didn’t have that kind of budget, so we went for a three-dimensional, sculptural effect.”

For a distinctive modern take, she used drywall to create a trio of cubist-style shapes, one stacked on the other. “It is a more high-end Miami look of white on white, but abstracted to give it a Zen feel.”

For furnishings, she wanted pieces that would work with the glass and stainless-steel railings, so she chose a sofa, chair and marble end tables from Muse and Merchant.

“We decided to go bright with the furniture, to contrast with the white, natural wood tones and grey stone, to give the room a young, fresh look,” explained Lansbury, who specializes in luxury residential design and was excited when approached by this developer to create a high-end aesthetic at a lower price point.

“It was great for us to develop some new tools … everyone likes to save money.”

Marine Neuwirth liked the modern look, clean lines and price so much that she and her husband, Keith, recently bought the show home pictured here.

This will be their second Westhills house, as they originally bought one of the company’s Legacy series, a more traditional home, about five years ago.

“Then we saw the Contempo series and fell in love with it,” she said this week.

“When you walk in, it feels like an oasis. We love the light and spaciousness, the stone wall entry, the spa feeling and the expensive look. We also found it quite affordable. In another part of Greater Victoria, this home might be closer to a million [dollars].”

The Contempo series starts at just under $600,000 and these owners paid about $666,000 for theirs.

The 2,600-square-foot home has a suite on the ground floor, as well as three bedrooms and three bathrooms upstairs — and there is a separate laundry for each living area.

“It is a very efficient use of space, and I can say that having lived in a lot of places. Bar none, we think this is fabulous and the service we get from the builder is incredible,” said Neuwirth, who previously lived with Keith in various parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan and moved 14 times in 10 years.

She loves her new kitchen with its “amazing work space and storage, which is much more than [another] house of comparable size, and I love the master bath. We could practically have a party in there.”

Lower property taxes are one key reason why they chose to live in Langford, along with the fact that people in their neighbourhood are friendly and many amenities are easily accessible, such as parks, Langford Lake, a new pool and now the proposed new clay tennis courts at Bear Mountain.

“It’s a prime location and we love the fact the whole development is so green. Everything this builder does is eco-conscious and well done.”

Westhills has always taken a green stance, said Dale Sproule, manager of sales and marketing for the company. “All our homes have both geothermal heat and air conditioning — a unique system that we build, operate and maintain. The cost is a little less [than conventional heating] but the big thing is it’s eco-conscious.

“We look to local suppliers for everything from paint to windows, to save transport, and always try to find sustainable products. Because we are a long-term project, our goals are different from a one-off builder.”

The company is into year seven of a 15-year development of about 200 hectares and has already built almost 500 houses, townhouses and condominiums. “There is no question about us rushing to market; these homes are built to last and our Contempo line indicates a maturation of Westhills,” said Sproule.

The company started out as an entry-level builder and still constructs small homes, “but these new homes are a step up in design and finishing levels.

“We really listen and respond to our clients. For instance, we heard they wanted built-in stoves — cooktops and wall ovens — and counter-depth fridges. These are things you find in better homes, but we are trying to keep it reasonable.”

About a third of the homes also have legal suites that can be used for family or rented out as mortgage helpers.

He added that a recently approved extension to West Shore Parkway that will take it south to Sooke Road will make a big difference to the area, as will the company’s 12-hectare Lakepoint project, on the south shore of Langford lake. This development includes a new home for the YMCA, Greater Victoria Public Library, an aquatic centre and a new branch for the Victoria Conservatory of Music, which officially opens May 14.

He describes the area as similar to Vancouver’s False Creek, with walkways, plazas and waterfront access where Langford’s young and dynamic population can enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

“Langford is an interesting place, because we have one population that’s upsizing, and another group of older people coming here to downsize and take advantage of our lifestyle. More and more people are living and working here, too, in the big-box stores or grocery industry.”

According to the last census, Langford is the fastest-growing city in B.C. and fifth in Western Canada. The population is approximately 30,000, said Langford city planning director Matthew Baldwin, who added in the past, Westhills has accounted for about one in five new homes in the area.

He said this spring has been busy at city hall. Single-family home construction so far this year has totalled $25.3 million, compared with $19.2 for the same period last year.

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