Outside the Box: Exploring within and beyond your comfort zone

After I established MyHomeDesigner in 2006 in North Vancouver, we built ourselves up to empower clients who want to explore their comfort zone and push the boundaries of what it means to live in a well-designed home.

Since I started my architectural education 35 years ago, I’ve always been keen to create unorthodox shapes and buildings and unconventional designs for extraordinary buildings. After I established MyHomeDesigner in 2006 in North Vancouver, we built ourselves up to empower clients who want to explore their comfort zone and push the boundaries of what it means to live in a well-designed home. Creativity is the key to success. We balance every client’s childhood dream with the growing technology available at our fingertips. The sky is the limit.

Our clients dream big. Just because their neighbors built a certain way doesn’t mean they want to follow the same footsteps. Based on their experience in adulthood, I also want them to think like a child — with the determination and resources to see their dream through to reality. There’s much more to decide than a flat roof or pitched roof. You can build something your past, present and future self can be proud of. We pair their deep desire, whatever it may be, with probably the most meaningful investment of their lives to create their authentic dream home. Not everyone else’s dream. Their own.

Here are three examples of how we think outside the box:

#1: Garage for Dream Car and Bike

Mike in North Vancouver had two carports, but wanted another garage in the backyard. The existing ports were not insulated. To store his favorite car and bike safely, this required a spacious heated garage. Unfortunately, the municipality would not grant the permit on the grounds that the home maximized the allowed floor area. 

But Mike is a resourceful guy and wouldn’t let that stop him. He called me. “First of all, we need to do a survey of the house,” I said. “There is hope.” I figured there are some exceptions in zoning that I could use to his advantage. We investigated. By more accurately classifying part of the existing structure and gaining an exemption for the basement, we got the green light.

Everyone was telling him, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that.” With the proper analysis, Mike proved them all wrong.  At the end of the day he got his garage. Now, his beloved vehicles are covered in a warm insulated place. Others did not think outside the box. But we did! 

#2: Pool INSIDE the House

Imagine — a pool INSIDE the house. This idea grew from an interesting family dynamic; the wife loves to swim but the husband does not know how to swim. 

Preferring to spend time together indoors, the whole family jumped at Mom’s idea to be able to swim just about every day despite our region’s harsh winters. Older sons and daughters could come over with their kids, take a dip, and all the while the husband who stays on land/in the adjacent living room can join the fun, too. 

This big family’s home was built AROUND the pool. Circulation flows from the dining room so that they can step into the water without really leaving the house. Huge windows and big sliding doors reveal the view of the pool area and patio, which is beautifully decorated, the “eye candy” of the entire house. 

When you’re sitting inside, you can still appreciate the view of the pool, a well-lit heated area with tiled walls, the bar, entertainment area, big screen television — a living space you’d more likely see in tropical locations right here in Canada. 

#3: Sustainable Solution for the Same Pool

This same outdoor space is ecologically friendly. Around the pool, one green wall of plants and fountains sets the scene for sustainability. In fact, the City of Vancouver is a pioneer for building sustainable homes. In this pool area, there is thick wall insulation. A heat pump system saves the family money in the long-term, but is also more energy efficient because it creates one system for both heating and cooling. It’s a big house. Without this system in place, their utility bills would be astronomical. In addition to saving money, the heat pump improves air quality. Whenever they use the pool, the heat loss is significantly minimized. 

For this house designed around a pool, we even reclaimed the land. We only needed to dig three feet to reach the appropriate depth because the entire building was already raised to meet the code — an example of how we can save resources and time. 

We love to work with clients who come up with brilliant ideas. This organically shaped space made that family’s childhood dream come true. Remember, luxury doesn’t have to be costly … With us, you’ll discover that net-zero and passive homes can be full of sustainability, luxury, and possibility. 

Discover more of Aryo’s work here.

About the author

Aryo Falakrou

Aryo Falakrou is the founder of My Home Designer (MHD) which is a boutique design company providing architectural and interior design services for custom homes, renovations, offices, retails, hotels and restaurants. We are proud of our design philosophy and out of the box thinking and our services is tailored to like minded clients. We believe on building relationships and helping our clients rather than just selling our services to them. People come to us as a client, start the process as a friend and become like a family by end of the project.