Remote Retreat Residence

Inspired by the site’s majestic, natural beauty, this home on Salt Spring Island was built as a summer residence for clients envisioning a retreat to host gatherings with friends and family. The heavily wooded waterfront lot, just over two acres, has its own private beach. Seals and otters are often spotted sunning in the owner’s cove, and eagles nest on the property. Whales and passing boats are a common sight on the horizon. Avid naturalists, the owners wanted to maximize the view throughout the house, while minimizing the boundary between outdoors and in. The floor plan’s basic organization is inspired by the sweeping cove and is designed to preserve the site’s original panorama of trees, beach, ocean and islands. Practical considerations were also paramount. A long, winding driveway was strategically planned to access the remote site at a reasonable grade. Guests, who often stay for extended periods, are ensured privacy with quarters located on the opposite end of the house from the owners’. To provide for the future, and growing older, the home was placed primarily on one level. Throughout much of the project, the client, architect and builder’s relationship was long-distance. While the owners resided in Connecticut, and the builder on Salt Spring Island, the home was designed by HJA in La Jolla, California. The computer was an indispensable design partner, with 3D computer models being shared via the Internet. The participants met semi-monthly at the site on Salt Spring, and communicated daily via email, fax and phone.

Client Comments

“Heather really listened to our ideas and was able to get into our thought process, going beyond what we initially asked for. We always felt comfortable and knew what we wanted was critically important to her. Her creative vision always maximized our desires, taking our ideas to the next level. She did that over and over again, showing creativity beyond what we even imagined.”

Susan Roth, Client

“Working with HJA went incredibly smoothly. You hear horror stories from other people, but we had just the opposite experience. We loved Heather… she always listened. She was excellent at being able to receive what we were saying, process it, accept it or have a discussion. She challenges you when it’s reasonable, but never in an adversarial way. The end product is excellent and incredibly beautiful.”

George Roth, Client

Related Articles

The New York Times Great Homes and Destinations “In British Columbia, an Island Spot Perfect for Wildlife Lovers” May 12, 2009 View details >> Canadian Homes and Cottages “Remote Retreat” Feature: Salt Spring Island residence Issue 6, 2002


Architect: Heather Johnston Architect Location: Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada Program: Private residence Area: 2-acre lot with 3,000-square-foot residence including 2-car carport Builder: Tony Hambrook Photography: Michael Gluss, Saltspring Island