As the culture within a city develops, its homes tend to take on a specific style.
Similar to the colourful seaside homes found in Newfoundland, brick townhomes in Toronto and Montreal, and log cabin-esque houses in Tofino, the Okanagan has begun to develop its own style inspired by the climate, surroundings and lifestyles of those who live in them.
The result is the ‘Okanagan Modern’ style home, which blends craftsman-style with contemporary influences. This style is represented by the combination of various nature-inspired materials, clean lines, welcoming front façades and low roof pitches with wide overhangs that reflect the surrounding mountain ranges.
We spoke with a few of Wilden’s local home designers to learn more about the emerging ‘Okanagan Modern’ home design trend, and where its inspiration comes from.
“We live here to connect with nature; by engaging with natural amenities, taking in the amazing views or often doing both together,” said Steven Ulliac of Uprise Design. “Okanagan home owners have embraced this philosophy and are requesting more windows, taller ceilings and bigger and better equipped outdoor living spaces.”
The Okanagan’s natural beauty, and its residents’ desire to enjoy it as much as possible, are clearly a significant source of inspiration for this style of home. By combining this natural appeal with modern design elements and a greater acceptance of unconventional materials, home designers have created something quite unique to the area.
“The movement towards contemporary exterior design is expanding and it suits the Uprise style perfectly,” added Ulliac. “It absolutely reflects a ‘connection to nature’ value, but on top of that it gives clients and designers a bigger tool box of design elements to work with.”
“From material selection to shape and form, we can now compose dynamic houses with an organic connection to the site and striking visual impact from the street or the lake,” continued Ulliac. “This is a great period for Okanagan Design and we’re excited to be part of it.”
Another home designer and contributor to the Okanagan Modern style home, Jeremy Newell, also draws upon the area’s natural beauty and the Okanagan lifestyle for inspiration.
“[My inspiration] has always been the valley itself,” said Newell. “Low sloping hills evoke low sloping roof lines. Summer heat beckons adequate roof overhangs, while our outdoor lifestyle requires good connections between interior and exterior spaces.”
“Many local homes of past decades were built in either the prairie or mid-century modern style. If you were to imagine prairie-style architecture meeting the mid-century modern style in a Napa Valley setting, that sums up the style nicely,” added Newell. “I enjoy the freedom to draw from our past to create something comfortable, innovative and stylish for the future.”
For Trevor Beatty, President of Jenish House Design, his clients' wants and needs were an important influence for this trend.
"At Jenish House Design, we provide house plans for clients all across North America and there definitely is an 'Okanagan Modern' style that started in the Okanagan and is spreading," said Beatty. "For us it was our clients that pushed for an economical-modern style, so we started developing plans that had some of the 'modern elements' and also had some 'prairie style' to them, too."
"The Okanagan Modern style is fun to design because you can be a bit more free with roofs, windows and finishing materials," added Beatty. "Typically our Okanagan Modern designs will incorporate open and flexible floor space, minimalist decorative elements, extensive use of glass and often exhibit modern features at the entry like flat or mono sloped roofs."
One Kelowna neighbourhood that has fully embraced this trend is Wilden, which has now created a program of 30 pre-priced home plans that all utilize well-thought-out Okanagan Modern designs.
Base prices and customizable floor plans are now available. You can learn more about the new homes here.
Spread over the hillside along Okanagan Lake, a short 10-minute drive from downtown Kelowna, lies Wilden, a community that has mastered the art of growing in population without losing its pristine beauty. Half of the roughly 1,500 acres will always be preserved as natural open space or public parkland.
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