“On the first day on the project, we decided to fly it off a cliff,” says Brian MacKay-Lyons, describing the simple wood and steel–frame residence his firm designed. The two-story, 970-square-foot house juts out from its perch on a bluff overlooking Nova Scotia's windswept Atlantic coast. “We thought, 'we can be boring and build on land, or we can do it this way.' ” And so the Cliff House was born.
Inside, the house has a pared-down, rough-hewn aesthetic that showcases its wood-and-steel construction. This simplicity, says MacKay-Lyons, minimizes distractions, highlighting views of the ocean and coastline just beyond large windows at the front of the house. Open-plan communal spaces on the first level, and a second-level bedroom that overlooks the living room and has views out to the sea, create a sense that the house is “hung from the ocean horizon,” says MacKay-Lyons. “When you're in the house, you should feel mostly a sense of refuge.”