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Laneway Homes Archives - Novell Design Build



Custom Curved Dormer Inspired by Gingerbread Turrets

  • By London Camaclang

Inspiration for this Vancouver infill arrived in gingerbread form.

We fell in love with the idea of a turret …. and not just because it was covered in icing! Throughout our Design Build process, the turret has changed in location and size. The final design is a charming, custom curved dormer.

Framing this roof has been so rewarding and we wanted to share the process so far. We can’t wait to see this spectacular space completed.

This Vancouver infill is a laneway home that benefits from an additional boost in square footage. We’ve framed the custom roof to include varying slopes, custom curves, and vaulted height above the entrance and main staircase. Stay tuned for updates as our team moves into the next phases of this construction!



Vancouver’s Best Laneways | Montecristo Magazine

  • By London Camaclang

Our Grandview Lanway Residence is still one of Vancouver’s best laneway designs! This week, its custom features caught the eye of Montecristo Magazine’s design team:

Inside 9 of Vancouver’s Coolest Laneway Houses | Montecristo Magazine

A living green roof and a 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling bookcase are highlights of this dreamy Grandview laneway residence by Novell Design Build.

Katie Nanton |Montecristo Magazine

Take a peek inside some of our favourite building features:

  • The bedrooms downstairs are designed for comfort and relaxation, while the upstairs kitchen, living and south-facing patio allows for sunlight-filled entertainment.
  • The vaulted, 12 foot high ceilings and the 360-degree custom shelving for beautiful CD storage.
  • Hidden drawers and convertible closets make for hassle-free storage.
  • The mechanical room is suspended horizontally and accessible from the deck.
  • It features an eco-friendly and cost-effective living green roof.

Most of all, a beautiful space is best when it provides an abundance of joy!

Multigenerational Design Build houses are the future of Vancouver’s residential growth. Hidden density can be accomplished without demolition, or losing the character of our neighbourhoods.

Source: Montecristo Magazine. Katie Nanton. Inside 9 of Vancouver’s Coolest Laneway Houses. June 23, 2020.



Living Small in Metro Vancouver

  • By Tudor

Living Small and Design for Small Spaces

Living small can be a challenge in Metro Vancouver. Here are some tips and tricks.

As part of the GVHBA Spring Home Renovation Seminar, Laurel, director and principal designer at Novell, conducted a presentation on living small and how to thoughtfully design a small space. We’ve dissected our presentation and compiled some of the juicy details for your perusing pleasure. You can view the entire Prezi presentation here. For more information on the projects featured, click on the thumbnails.

Create a beautiful path to a beautiful home

living small

A shipping container becomes an eye-catching home that demonstrates excellent landscape design. Source: Architizer










 Organize your desired experiences

living small

Colour is used to delineate the entryway and storage spaces in this home in Mexico. This design characteristic also separates the living and dining areas from the bedrooms. Source: Dezeen. 

living small

The floor plan of this 581sf home cleverly separates areas meant for entertaining and dining from private spaces. Source: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects.

living small

This home’s design creates a psychological separation between areas used to entertain company and areas private to the homeowner. The plan also segregates the kitchen so as so facilitate undisturbed preparation of meals. Source: Slade Architects.












 Design with flexibility

living small

A 420sf apartment makes the most of its available space using convertible features and flexible living solutions. Source: Architizer

living small

Using tracks, the far wall of this apartment slides to reveal extra sleeping space. A murphy bed in the living area adds a third sleeping area. Source: Architizer

living small

Convertible space allows this small home to accommodate large parties, so entertaining is a breeze. Source: Architizer

living small

When you think of convertible features, outdoor spaces might not immediately come to mind. In this photo, a home in Australia uses a movable roof to create additional living space. Source: ArchDaily




















Be clever with storage

living small

A staircase is a great way to put unused space to work. In this 600sf London home, the space underneath the stairs acts as its main storage space. Source: Dwell

living small

This London home is a great example of how a small space doesn’t mean compromising on lifestyle. The owners’ bikes are neatly stored beneath the stairs. Source: Dwell











 Hide what you don’t want to see

living small

Believe it or not, this is a fully equipped kitchen. But what’s missing here? Source: Contemporist

living small

Built-ins are a clever way to hide visual clutter. In this photo, movable panels hide shelves and appliances and instantly convert this minimal space into a functional kitchen. Source: Contemporist











 Use height for more storage solutions

living small

In this small apartment, vertical space as well as a staircase is doing double duty as storage space. Source: Architizer

living small

Our very own laneway house uses a 12-foot tall space as storage for our clients CD collection.










 Go big or go home

living small

Less space means your dollar goes further. Have fun with your home using bold accents and fixtures. Source: Dwell

living small

A smaller kitchen means choosing high quality finishes like marble won’t break the bank. Source: Canadian House and Home











For more small space inspiration, check out our newly completed (and very first) laneway house! You can also vote for it as part of Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Contest 2014.




Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Contest 2014

  • By Tudor

apartment therapy logo


Our little laneway home was chosen as one of the entries in Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Contest 2014. Our client, Patricia, is vying for the top prize.

Help her out by voting here.

Update: Voting is now closed. Thanks to all who participated!





The Vancouver Sun tours our laneway home

  • By Tudor

Making a trade: Vancouver couple gives up space to find freedom

After more than a year, Vancouver Sun columnist Shelley Fralic revisits our laneway home, touring the completed space and chatting to our clients, Patricia Fraser and Cal Koat, about the ins and outs of small living.

Read the full article here.

laneway house



Patricia Fraser talks to CKNW about laneway living

  • By Tudor

Patricia Fraser, our client and the lady who lives down the lane herself, speaks on CKNW about her new home and laneway living in Vancouver.

Listen to the interview here (segment begins at 25.25).

laneway house



Hidden Density: The Benefit of Laneway Houses

  • By novelladmin

Laneway houses create thoughtful, hidden density.

Last week, over 300 guests visited our little laneway house from across British Columbia. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Laneway House Tour had a simple, yet timely theme: “Densification without Demolition.” It got us thinking that our laneway house—and others all around Vancouver—is part of a larger effort to help address issues like housing supply, affordability, and density. Specifically, laneway houses help to promote “hidden density” because they can blend into existing neighbourhoods and don’t need to be built on new land.

Laneway houses alone will not solve all of Vancouver’s housing issues. But they are a part of the city’s efforts to promote thoughtful density.

Increasing the supply of anything will help to reduce its cost and housing is no different; cities use this tactic to tackle high housing prices. Like mixed-use spaces and secondary suites, laneway houses are part of the City of Vancouver’s efforts to increase housing supply along with density.

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Our green roof giveaways!

In March 2013, New Zealand-based Isthmus Research completed a study for the City of Auckland. It looked into the successes of Vancouver’s EcoDensity initiative and included a few quick points about laneway houses. Three types of density are highlighted in the EcoDensity Charter: Invisible Density, Hidden Density and Gentle Density.

Laneway houses promote hidden density because they are built on existing land and can blend into the surrounding neighbourhood, thereby preserving its character. It may surprise you to know that laneway houses (known as infill developments) are a LEED green building strategy!

For Vancouver residents, laneway houses are a unique solution to issues like housing availability and affordability. These small homes are also helping to promote the concept of hidden density—preserving neighbourhood character while using no new land for building.

The theme of “Densification without Demolition” perfectly describes what laneway houses symbolize in Vancouver: a push to create thoughtful living solutions that pay attention to the concerns of people and planet.

We are confident that laneway houses are a positive thing for Vancouver. The laneway tour connected us with many other like-minded individuals. Thanks to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation and everyone who came out to see us last weekend. We’re incredibly excited to finish our very first laneway project and we’re looking forward to even more!


Thanks for tuning in for our laneway series. We hope you enjoyed it!

Check back in the coming weeks for more great content! 



Vancouver’s Laneway House Dilemmas

  • By Tudor

“500 square feet seems small.

This is only one of many concerns shared by Vancouver’s potential laneway house owners. Space (or lack thereof) can be a significant roadblock for anyone looking to build a small home.  Some apprehension is understandable when downsizing your living space. The second part of our laneway house series seeks to put these anxieties to rest. One of the most important considerations for any potential resident of a laneway house is space usage. Therefore, we have taken some inspiration from our very first laneway house and highlighted some general space-centric features.

Convertible spaces. Due to their size, laneway houses must often make use of multi-purpose spaces. For our clients, we designed a hallway adjacent to the bathroom that—with the slide of a door—converts into a dressing room. This gives our clients a convenient space to get ready for work every morning.

Space maximization. When you only have a few hundred square feet to work with, maximizing all available space is crucial. We have made use of built-storage throughout our laneway house. Some features include:

  • Recessed bookshelves integrated into thicker wall assemblies.
  • Sitting room that offers built-in storage that integrates with the kitchen cabinets.
  • Metal box cabinets recessed into the wall of the bathroom.
  • Custom drawers for shoe storage built under the staircase.

Vertical space. Building up and not out is an excellent concept in space conservation. Lofts use the same principle. In our laneway house, the mechanical room, which houses the boiler and central vacuum, is designed to fit above the garage, saving precious floor space. Using vertical space also gives a small space the feeling of openness, which is very important in a laneway house.

Psychology. How and why space is used in a home is addressed by our attention to psychology of space. Sensitivity to proportions also allowed us to design an upstairs area that provided unobstructed city views. Psychologically, we separated the floors based on their intended use: The upstairs kitchen and living area was designed as a “public” space in which our clients could entertain; the downstairs area was intended to be used as a private “retreat” for our clients.

Green roofs. Unique to our laneway house is the addition of a living roof. Besides providing insulation and aesthetics, green roofs can add more green space to a laneway house. Many studies have shown the positive impact of urban green space.

Adding green space. Because a laneway house takes up area on an existing property, there may also be concerns about how outdoor space will be affected. More often than not, laneway houses are built where concrete parking pads or detached garages once were.  Our laneway house actually takes up less space than the parking pad that existed before it. All of this “leftover” space can then be transformed into green space!  

Landscape design. The city asks that all laneway builds provide some amount of dedicated semi-private outdoor space for its occupants, which makes good sense and boosts the quality of life in a laneway. For this home, we went further and ensured that those connections to the outdoors were meaningful and relevant for the owners. Some outdoor features include:

  • Creeping thyme between pavers.
  • A small yard with a plum tree.
  •  Herb and downspout gardens that characterize the north and west sides of the house and suit the owner’s desired outdoor activities.
  • East and south views of tree-lined Vancouver neighbourhoods.
  • Complementing greenery surrounding the building itself.

Living in a small home does not have to mean making huge sacrifices. By balancing thoughtful and discerning design with a client’s wishes, laneway houses can support exceptionally comfortable lifestyles. Yes, even in Vancouver.

Part 3 in out Laneway House series is out October 5th! Don’t miss it! 

Curious to see how we’ve taken thoughtful design from concept to completion? Come visit us on October 19th as part of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Laneway House Tour!

For more information and how you can purchase tickets (all proceeds benefiting the Vancouver Heritage Foundation), click here.