West Coast Modern Homes: 7 Unique Design Features

West Coast Modern Homes: A Review of 7 Unique Design Features


What Makes West Coast Modern Homes Different From the Rest? 

West Coast modern homes exemplify west coast style. Beautiful structures built with outdoor living in mind, these homes maximize the surrounding landscape and natural elements in every design feature. 

West Coast contemporary homes immerse the homeowner in stunning views and are often adapted to accommodate rocky and irregular building sites. The west coast style evolved from modernist concepts to showcase minimalist suburban living in a rainforest climate.

Read on to discover why west coast modern homes’ design features stand out and why they have been dubbed architecture rather than real estate.

The Origin of West Coast Modern Architecture 

Architects developed the concept of west coast modern homes in the 1930s in West Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. At the time, these architects gained inspiration in residential design from Japanese and international styles and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The modern approach included design features highlighting rocky landscapes and rainforest settings. Incorporating natural, raw and warm elements such as unfinished logs and exposed timber beams and blending them into clifftops and forests were some of the distinguishing features of west coast homes at the time and remain so today.

A Review of 7 Unique Design Features 

One thing west coast homes aren’t is cookie-cutter. Often design-forward and hidden on a clifftop or amongst towering cedars and Douglas fir trees, these beautiful homes are not mass-produced.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that make west coast contemporary homes different from the rest.

1. Harmonious with Nature

Maintaining sight lines inside the home with the surrounding landscape is a key trait when designing a floor plan for a west coast modern home. These homes blur the line between outdoor living and interior spaces, using sustainable building materials like timber milled on-site. 

In addition, sustainable design features such as passive solar heating and cooling are also often incorporated, which includes building insulated walls and using high-performance windows. West Coast modern homes are also oriented to optimize the sun in the winter and shade in the summer. 

Did You Know? LIDA Homes were awarded the FortisBC Excellence in Energy Efficiency award in 2021.

2. Architecture

While the seamless transition between outdoor and interior space is paramount to a west coast contemporary home, so is the architecture. The following architectural features characterize West Coast homes:

  • Unadorned exteriors are divided into windows panels – to maximize natural light and blend into the natural landscape.
  • Flat or single-slope rooflines – to handle heavy rain and manage rainwater runoff.
  • Set at ground level – to accommodate rough terrain.
  • Often vaulted ceilings with exposed post-and-beam timbers – provide an open-concept interior space.
  • Deep eaves – create a clear dripline to protect walls from rainwater damage.
  • Stucco and wood siding – locally sourced to blend into the natural surroundings.

When these features are combined, they create a functional and eye-catching home.

3. Natural Light

Sweeping windows dramatically frame rugged landscapes and infuse interior spaces with natural light. Often more shuttered on the entrance side, west coast modern homes are wide open on the backside, many with ceiling-height windows drawing your eye to the outside. Not only does this balance outdoor and indoor living, but the optics of enhanced natural light also make interior spaces appear larger.

Windows are frequently beaded directly into the timber to form a smooth transition, and extensive glazing lets in all the welcome sunshine.

4. Warm Building Materials

Neutral and natural colours characterize the west coast modern home style, and the building materials chosen for these beautiful homes reflect this. Exposed timber and post and beam architecture blend seamlessly from the outside in. Frequently clad in a blend of recycled cedar siding or shakes, locally quarried stone and polished concrete, their exteriors meld with the environment.

Tar and gravel roofs are standard on low-pitched or flat rooflines, and cedar shake or shingles tend to cover the distinctive cantilevered overhangs that characterize west coast homes.

5. Outdoor Living 

West Coast modern homes are found in unassuming spots. They might be hidden behind a hedge or discreetly concealed from the street and are often located on building sites not optimal for construction.

They represent the best of west coast living and include features that accommodate wet weather: elegant foyers and grand entrances with lots of space for tucking away wet boots and rain gear. The design aesthetic highlights the home’s simple geometric silhouettes, reflecting the natural environment of cliffs, gullies and long coastlines.

6. High Ceilings

Soaring ceilings capture the natural light, while steep angles capture the eye. Often 30 ft or higher, the vaulted ceilings that distinguish west coast modern contemporary homes provide a highly sought-after airy open concept space.

Some of the benefits of vaulted ceilings include the following:

  • Increased natural light
  • The appearance of grandeur and increased square footage
  • Added character from exposed beams
  • Increased venting of hot air
  • Optimizing what would otherwise be a dead space
  • Eco-friendly

High ceilings elevate and enhance the beauty of a west coast home.

7. Stunning Views

Whether perched on a rocky bluff, a clifftop with an expansive ocean view or amid towering Douglas firs and cedars, west coast homes feature stunning views with every design decision. West Coast modernism design emphasizes the placement of windows, creating wide panels that maximize the views.

LIDA Homes Inc. – Leading the Way in Construction Excellence

Are you interested in building a west coast modern home? Check out this beautiful modern waterfront home built by Lida Homes’ team of experts for your design inspiration. Let our award-winning team of custom home builders seamlessly blend outdoor living with airy interior spaces just for you. 

LIDA Homes craft beautiful custom homes in Victoria, BC and the capital region. For examples of LIDA Home’s builds, view our recent projects. Then, contact us today for a complimentary consultation or more information on building your dream forever home.

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