Modern Mountain Retreat Boasts Indoor/Outdoor Experience

Glen and Ann Sather lead very busy lives. As general manager of the New York Rangers, he spends a lot of time traveling. However, when the former hockey player and his wife want to wind down and spend time with their children and grandchildren, they often head to their home in Banff, Canada.

“They wanted this home to be a special retreat,” says Gina McGuire, CID, NCIDQ certified and owner of Design & Wine in Palm Desert, CA. “Whenever there is a holiday or special event, everyone gathers in Banff.”


Shining star

The property is located within national park boundaries, which provides a peaceful riverbank setting and stunning views of the mountains, as well as special challenges. “There are many restrictions as to what you can and cannot do,” she says, adding one of which was the ability to build in the first place. Because the couple met the criteria, they were granted permission. After donating their original home there to a local arts foundation, they started with a clean slate.

McGuire worked with Bill Weber, owner of Artwood Design in Victoria, to create a home that reflects a modern mountain design, with Arts and Crafts influences and a touch of Zen. “Bill made it all happen,” she notes. “Whatever Ann and I could dream up, Bill would create.”

One of those creations is a 30-ft. water feature in the front entrance that stretches from the master suite on the upper level, through the front entrance to the wine room in the lower level. Another special feature is the rolling pantry that can slide into the office to make room for the expandable maple-slab dining room table that can seat up to 20 people.

Weber is also responsible for the millwork throughout the home, much of the furniture and all of the cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms. In the kitchen, McGuire chose to use bamboo with a horizontal grain and a color palette that melds beautifully with the hickory floor and Cambria Canterbury quartz countertops. However, the shining star is the cobalt blue AGA gas oven. “It came from the original home,” she says. “It’s 20 years old, but they wanted to keep it. Everything in the kitchen revolves around that oven.”

It is accented with a reverse painted glass backsplash in a natural, earthy shade. “Ann loves the look of the glass, and she wanted to incorporate it somewhere,” she says. “Because the oven is such a focal point, we decided the backsplash was the perfect place.”

McGuire likes to use reverse painted glass whenever possible. “It has the reflective quality of clear glass,” she says, “but it doesn’t show fingerprints, so it’s a great choice for countertops, too. As the backsplash in this home, it offers a clean look that doesn’t add any busyness to the space. It gives depth and is a nice complement to the countertops.”


Function in a Small Footprint

One major challenge when designing the kitchen was the lack of wall space, combined with a relatively small footprint. “The space is nestled between the Great Room and the porch – which serves as a special retreat for a morning cup of coffee,” she explains. “We have very few walls, but we managed to include everything she needed to make it a functional kitchen.

“Thank goodness for the large island,” she continues. It provides plenty of storage, along with eat-in-kitchen seating and a Sub-Zero undercounter beverage center conveniently located for quick access to cool drinks. Roll-out drawers and customized organizer systems conveniently accommodate kitchen supplies.

A Wolf gas cooktop with Wolf downdraft is lowered three inches for ease of cooking, while a Dornbracht pot filler simplifies water access. “Ann is petite,” says McGuire. “Dropping the cooktop gives her a more comfortable workspace, especially when using large pots. She can easily transition from the countertop to the stovetop.”

Additional appliances include a 48" Sub-Zero refrigerator with glass doors, a Miele Nespresso coffee system and cup warmer, two Miele dishwashers (a Slimline version as well as a full-size model) and a Miele steam oven and speed oven.

McGuire was also challenged by the relatively low ceiling height of the kitchen when compared to the Great Room. “The Great Room has such voluminous ceilings,” she says. “We didn’t want the kitchen to look too compacted because of all of the appliances we included. The key was to keep the space open and airy.”

To help accomplish that, the designer opted for a single flush-mount, drum-type light for the island, rather than multiple pendants.

For added ambiance, McGuire eliminated upper cabinetry next to the AGA oven so she could add an EcoSmart fireplace, which is shared with the porch. “The porch is very cozy and, with a NanaWall, it can be opened up in the summer,” she says. “They wanted to have a full indoor/outdoor living space.”


Create Movement

A full-on indoor/outdoor experience was a leading design theme throughout the house. “The focal point of the entire home is the view, and how the exterior ties into the interior environment,” she says.

For example, the master bath features special touches of nature, including the 5' round travertine tub that was lowered into the space with a crane, with the roof added afterward. It features a chiseled upper edge with pebbles surrounding the base. “The room was designed around that tub,” she says.

Chiseled edging is also added onto the Cambria Lincolnshire countertops and pebbles are carried into the steam shower. A ‘sculpture’ of Cambria Dover quartz lines one wall. “We chose to use blocks of quartz with staggered depths,” McGuire explains. “There is so much movement in this house – with all of the different textures – so we wanted to add movement to the bath, too. This wall gives more interest than a solid-colored slab. It creates a bit of an art feature.

“There are so many great materials used throughout the entire home,” she continues, “especially natural materials that keep it organic.”