A Room For All Seasons

This beautifully-designed space allows the homeowners to enjoy the outdoors, indoors.

By Don Procter

When Nancy Macri and Gus Calderone approached architect Joseph Campitelli to design an addition to their King City home north of Toronto, they had some very specific objectives in mind.
For starters they wanted the new space to give them the sense of being in their back yard – sans the bug festival. They also envisioned the space to feature many windows and a cathedral ceiling; at he same time they wanted it to be energy efficient and appear as if it always was part of the original brick bungalow built in 1981.
A ‘wow factor’ was also important. Overall, a tall order indeed. Campitelli, of Markham-based Joseph N. Campitelli Architect Inc., says although the owners’ plans only called for a small addition, which could have been done without an architect, what drew him to the job was the couple’s vision for something special – not just a hastily slapped together space.
The finished product is a 17X17.5-foot room that meets the owners’ vision in spades. It features a dramatic exposed wood roof frame that incorporates three striking curved support beams below the 14-foot-high ceiling. The pine wood roof frame members – stained to look like cedar – are carried on 8×12-inch beams that are part of the post and beam timber frame that makes up the walls of the addition.
As eye-catching as the design turned out, it wasn’t originally planned that way. Early in the design stage Campitelli was advised by structural engineers that to achieve the complicated hipped cathedral roof that was sympathetic to the original home’s roof lines, he should go with a steel structure or with a scissor type wood truss system. The downside: the roof structure would be covered up and likely clad in drywall. “It was the opposite way we wanted to go,” he said. “Why would we go to all that trouble and money to create something we couldn’t see or touch?”
That’s when Campitelli turned to timber frame manufacturer Normerica to engineer the roof system. The Innisfil, Ontario-based company designed a hybrid of a conventional framed wall system that could support its heavy timber frame roof system and included cathedral rafters sloping gently to the ceiling’s peak. The three curved wood members serve a structural purpose and add drama to the room, says Hugh Murray, Normerica’s sales coordinator.
From the outset, the objective was to keep the timber framework looking simple without a lot of joist and truss webbing, for visual appeal, Murray points out. “What helped was that we had good communication with the clients and Joe Campitelli to meet his vision.”
While a cathedral ceiling can be an energy hog, Campitelli devised a space that is anything but. Above the ceiling which is clad in tongue-and-groove pine boards, the architect specified a 10-inch space framed in 2x10s filled with spray foam insulation. The space achieves an R-50 insulation value. Between that space and the roof sheathing is a two-inch gap to allow airflow, which keeps the cedar shake roof cool and eliminates condensation. “When the sun heats up the roof, the heat has nowhere to go so you need a way to allow that hot air to escape,” says Campitelli.
He adds that air spaces have not always been installed above insulated cavities. “Without them though, roofs tend to deteriorate much quicker because of the buildup of heat and condensation.”
The architect chose to cover the post and beam walls with drywall – a decision others might have objected to. “Some people would want to expose the timber frame,” he says. But Campitelli had esthetic, not just functional, reasons for drywall. “When you walk into the room you see how clean it looks and at the same time how rustic it looks.”
Covering the timber frame with drywall rather than leaving it exposed provided an eight-inch-deep wall cavity that is two inches deeper than traditionally framed walls, allowing the builder to maximize on insulation. In keeping with the energy-efficient theme, the windows selected are argon-gas filled-in wood frames. After the addition was completed, the homeowners changed the rest of the home’s windows in keeping with the new ones.
Did close attention to energy efficiency pay off? The homeowners think so. “Our energy costs are not substantially greater than they were before we had this room; it stays cool in the summer, warm in the winter and we didn’t have to get a bigger furnace,” says Calderone. The room’s 48-inch-wide natural gas fireplace with travertine limestone cladding is a key feature, but rather than heating the space it primarily serves to look good and blows heated air into the basement storage room. “That way we can heat this room’s floor,” says Calderone.
The addition picks up on Prairie style architecture with the structure comprised of a series of horizontal planes. The hipped roof overhangs exterior walls by about 30 inches to help keep the hot summer sun from penetrating deep into the room. Hard landscaping (planters) near the home transition to the garden and pool in the picturesque back yard.
Macri says both homeowners are “thrilled” with Campitelli’s design and the work of Normerica and contractor Upper Canada Homes. “It goes so well with the house,” she says. “It has become our ‘great room.’ ”
While the addition has proved well worth the time and money, the couple has a word of caution for others looking at doing similar renos: budget for a hotel stay. The first days of deconstruction included tearing down a17-foot-wide portion of the bungalow’s back wall in order to tie in the addition. That left the couple without some of the basics like normal use of their kitchen. “It was like camping,” says Macri. “It was an adventure!”

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