A Westcoast Contemporary Home With A Boutique Hotel Feel Channels A Zen Sanctuary In West Vancouver

The infinity pool at the Pillon house is a serene oasis. Landscape architect Paul Sangha designed the leafy laser-cut steel pool canopy. The hand-woven outdoor furniture is by Dedon. BRETT RYAN STUDIOS


A Pacific red cedar towers over the entrance to the Pillon property; its expansive leafy canopy mimicked in the lacey laser-cut steel gates designed by landscape architect, Paul Sangha. In fact, its significance resounds in many of the subtle creative details throughout the home and garden’s design. The family’s love of travel, wellness and nature is at the essence of their spectacular 11,600 square-foot home.

“Originally a tear-down, Mark and I wanted a serene, light-filled home that would call to mind the indoor- outdoor living we experience in Maui,” says West Vancouver home-owner, Terry Pillon. She founded health and wellness, Maui Life Retreat, and specializes in arranging small escorted luxury travel experiences that integrate yoga, meditation and nature adventures on the island paradise. 

Heffel wove warm earthy tones into the custom silk rug that complements the living room’s Holly Hunt furniture. The same warm hues continue into the kitchen, with its walnut and back-painted glass cabinets and a pendant light by Niamh Barry that hangs over a monolithic granite island. EMA PETER PHOTOGRAPHY

Many years ago, the Pillons, who also have a second home in Maui, became involved as sponsors with a unique charity, The Camp Kerry Society founded by Vancouver’s Dr. Heather Mohan. The non-profit organization provides retreats in B.C. and Maui for counselling and education for families coping with terminal illness, loss and grief. “I have a yoga studio at my home in Maui and Mark and I love the outdoors especially hiking so being involved in this wonderful project that includes outrigger canoeing, healing circles, music and art therapy is close to our hearts,” Terry explains.

It’s no coincidence that the Pillon property resembles a fabulous boutique hotel. “That’s exactly what we wanted when we worked with our architect, Gordon Hlynsky and builder, Brander Homes,” Terry confides. The impressive drive-up entrance or porte-cochere, is Indiana limestone an element also carried through the home and juxtaposed inside with honey-coloured Afrormosia, an African teak on the floors.

The alchemy of light, both natural and man-made plays a vital role in the ambiance of the entire home.

Located at the end of the recreation level, the spa includes a gym, infrared sauna, shower and massage area. EMA PETER PHOTOGRAPHY

“I loved the linear design of the house and the fact that the Pillons didn’t want any clutter so I worked to create a natural softness with strong focal points throughout,” says interior designer, Jennifer Heffel of HB Design. “For example, the kitchen chandelier, Penumbra is by Irish lighting designer, Niamh Barry and it’s really like a piece of beautiful jewelry or sculpture.” “There’s a wonderful backstory to that chandelier,” adds Heffel. “The Pillons were so intrigued by the designer that they asked me to arrange a visit to her studio in Dublin, then they planned a whole hiking trip around it!”

Natural light streams in through the clerestory windows that line the upper level’s kitchen and living room. “In the kitchen during the day, I often look up to see that Pacific red cedar and at night, the moon and stars,” says Terry. “It’s like living in a beautiful treehouse.”

“The island in the kitchen is boxed in a honed granite and was meant to feel monolithic,” explains Heffel. “Terry wanted all the appliances hidden except for the Wolf Cooktop but the induction hood is so streamlined, it too is concealed in the upper cabinets.”  Heffel enclosed the full fridge and freezer and there’s even a hidden coffee bar, all behind walnut and back -painted glass. The abutting kitchen table is actually one live-edge slab of walnut that Heffel discovered on Instagram.

Martha Sturdy Globe Spheres glow under a free-floating staircase that leads from the main floor to the teens’ bedrooms and upstairs recreation area. Soundproofed limestone walls and acoustic ceiling panels block any noise from travelling between floors. EMA PETER PHOTOGRAPHY

Floor to ceiling glass windows and doors in the living room overlook the spectacular garden and pool and several tiered outdoor seating areas. “We love to entertain,” says Pillon “I’m a Prairie girl so when my family and Mark’s extended Italian family get together, plus the kids and grandchildren there’s easily 20 people all over the house,” she laughs. 

The open concept kitchen and living room set the stage rather than compete with the colourful pool and gardens outside. “I wanted warm, earthy tones on the upholstered Holly Hunt furniture in the living room and the neutral custom silk rug has an abstract pattern of tree bark and tree rings,” says Heffel.

Once again Heffel has used a sculptural lighting fixture as a dramatic focal point, this time in the dining room. “When you walk in the front door you see the stunning garden and I didn’t want the dining room lighting to block that view,” she explains. With the emphasis on interesting textures, a series of five glass and brass suspended ‘blades’ tie-in the brass-edged surround of the gas fireplace, limestone walls and cabinetry in rift cut (linear) walnut. 

Using a rich forest green silk wallpaper that immediately draws the eye to the outside terrace where Terry often practices her yoga overlooking the lush gardens, the master bedroom and ensuite soothingly evoke calm and relaxation. “You wouldn’t know it but the hand-made, bevelled gem-cut mirror with brass clips weighs over 50 -pounds and was really difficult to hang,” Heffel explains. “I designed Terry’s dressing room with a stone -topped island specifically so that she could lay a suitcase there for packing,” she adds.

 A floating and jutting staircase underlit at night with soft glow LED lights, leads down to the recreation level, the kids’ bedrooms and Terry’s office. Acoustic panels in the walls and ceiling block out noise from reaching upstairs.

The pièce de résistance: Mark’s boutique hotel inspired spa at the end of the corridor complete with gym, infrared sauna, shower, and massage area that overlooks the 40-foot lap pool. Paul Sangha’s breath-taking geometric landscaping balances the linear architecture of the Pillon’s home with symmetrical tree plantings (Terry’s favourite magnolias,) a bocce court and guest house, outdoor sculpture and water features. 

Says Terry,“ Although Mark and I love to travel to France and Italy, it’s really a blessing to have our home here especially during this difficult time throughout the world.”