Designing Homes for Art Collectors

Japanese inspired landscaping

Flaherty Res, View from House

Designing homes for art collectors is a pleasure and the very best results come from doing what we truly love.  To do our top drawer work we need to be inspired and I find that art is inspiring to my creative spirit.  This garden is in the home of a favoured client who is a broad patron of the arts through his interest in painting, ceramics, sculpture, architecture and landscape.  His support of the performance arts garnered him a local patronage award last year.

The mood of this art collector’s home is quietly expressed in this image I took with the calming Oriental garden view seen just as one enters or leaves the master bedroom suite.  No neighbours or vistas are seen, just an artful sculpture, a little architecture in the bridge, some very carefully selected and placed rocks and some elegant landscape design, all beautifully maintained.

One reason art filled homes are pleasurable is that the trades and craftspeople who work with me on these homes, immediately recognize that the aesthetic quality of their efforts will be appreciated whether by the private patron themself or by their friends and guests, who it is assumed, must share some interest in quality and expect to find quality and aesthetic enjoyment in the home of a patron of the arts. On the Flaherty Residence illustrated and in the attached link, I worked with the noted furniture makers Joseph Gelinas and Sandra Carr, the painter and decorator Allan Rampton who has now retired and been replaced in my team of preferred decorators by Gulnar Jamal. The carpentry work throughout was done by Rob Evans of Character Builders, the electrical by David Rigby of Surewire Electric, the marble, tile, carpet and slate flooring, washrooms and fireplaces by Matrix Marble, Island Floors and Oak Bay Broadloom. The gardens are the result of work by the Greenfields and Sagitta Landscape Solutions. Light fixtures are mainly from Illuminations, but others were imported. The stunning custom garage door was by Tedford Overhead Doors with surround by Character Builders.

Working with owners, I take inspiration from one of my design heroes, Frank Lloyd Wright who famously followed his clients around taking notes about their lifestyle.  I do not bird-dog my clients because I simply do an extensive interview process with several ‘fittings” like a custom tailor.  I want my homes to encompass and reflect my clients, their character, lifestyle and their taste like a well tailored suit.  Getting to know a collector and their collection as well as what they aspire to collect while they continue to live in the home is stimulating.  For example with David we soon realized that he had almost as much two dimensional art as his home could hang but that by adding window shelves and by improving the atrium, he could collect UV resistant ceramics both locally and on his travels.  This has resulted in one of Western Canada’s premier collections and each potter represented and collected now shares in the reflected glow of being accepted by a noted patron, an enriching circle.

Another home’s art collection was once much more visible to the public because many whale watch boats cruise by Ten Mile Point where it still stands although I slightly modified it years later to a more family friendly home with upper story bedroom wings.  The collector Michael Williams famous for Swans Hotel and the reinvigoration of Old Town is no longer with us there and the new owners are more private but in the attached photo from when Michael lived there, you can see a huge spindle whorl by renowned First Nation’s Artist Susan Point.

Art filled home

The Point – 10 Mile Point – Passive Solar Design

Although I mainly practise as a home designer on Vancouver Island where we celebrate natural splendour, with ocean, forest and mountain vistas, there is still a place for the inward looking atrium home with art and aesthetics as the focus like the Flaherty Residence.  Or like this home on the right, there can be both a celebration of art and dramatic vistas for 360 degrees of glazed outer wall.  Despite the completely glazed perimeter wall, hanging the paintings and wall mounted art still took three people three days with over sixty works installed. With Michael, some works like the carving over the living room mantle were commissioned to fill a special place.

Designing homes for art collectors is a special joy for a designer because the fact that collectors and art patrons get pleasure from the world of aesthetics and visual stimulation is obvious.   I’m glad that so many people have been able to share in some of the joy of these two homes because of the TC and the writer Grania Litwin who has featured both of these properties.

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