Rewarding Design

Nestled within the trees, this home hides its suburban location

By Connie Adair
Photos by Craig Shouldice

With their clean lines and open spaces, contemporary homes may look simple to plan and build, but they’re not. Every detail must be carefully planned and that’s exactly what the homeowners of this beautiful Oakville, Ontario home did.

They thought about their dream home for a decade. They spent another year putting images and ideas into a binder, tabbed and separated by rooms, so Oakville architect Richard Mann and interior designer Jennifer Bidigare of Braam’s Custom Cabinets in St. Thomas, Ontario, could see what they wanted their house to look like.

Along with Mann and Bidigare, the homeowners worked closely with Scott Bachly and Jordan Butler of general contractor Bachly Construction to come up with the perfect design.

It took six months to design the home and another year to build it. It was a long time coming, but was worth the wait – it came together perfectly. The homeowners love the space, and their home has been nominated for a Canadian Home Builders’ Association 2013 SAM Award for a single-detached home over 4,000 square feet.

Inspiration came from time the homeowners spent in British Columbia, as well as their love of the outdoors. “They wanted to bring the outside in a la Frank Lloyd Wright,” Bidigare says.

They wanted to capture the casual feeling of their rustic log cabin but with a design at the other end of the spectrum – sophisticated and contemporary. However it was important for the space to be warm and inviting to suit the family’s lifestyle, the homeowner says.

The 5,400-square-foot stone and wood home, punctuated with large windows throughout, features an open floor plan. “You can see into the other rooms and it gives the appearance of being open, but there are pod areas. It’s cosy without being completely open,” Bidigare says.

Italian wenge wood and a stone brown matt paint are the materials of choice throughout the main floor. Drywall walls are painted white as a backdrop for art, and maple floors are stained a neutral grey.

The central feature is the kitchen. Italian wenge wood cabinets were built by Braam’s Custom Cabinets, which also created the cabinetry in the master bathroom and other prominent areas.

The sleek kitchen cabinetry is teamed with granite slab counter tops that are almost black. An interesting architectural feature is the approximately 600-pound maple ’cloud ceiling’, which is suspended by airplane cables and defines the kitchen area.4

An issue with contemporary homes is storage, or rather lack of it. “We looked at the space and created storage that doesn’t overtly look like it was included for a purpose,” the homeowner says. For example, each of the home’s four fireplaces has a surround that looks like an architectural feature but has storage space within.

The dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room includes a sink. The wall between the dining room and living room houses a two-sided fireplace. Both walls also include storage space.

Hidden pantry space was added to the mudroom, which is home to the family’s 20-pound Cockapoo when no one is home. The mudroom has large windows and is equipped with a dog wash.

The garage, accessible from the mud room, has a built-in storage system, epoxy floors and a nifty gadget – a biometric fingerprint entry system on the door to the house.

On the 2,600-square-foot lower level, storage space in the wine room was maximized thanks to helpful suggestions from Rosehill Wine Cellars in Etobicoke, Ontario, the homeowner says. The footprint was reduced by a third but it still stores the same 800 bottles as the originally planned space.

Wine bins were extended by two inches, from 24 to 26 inches, which served to double each bin’s capacity. “Smart doesn’t change the esthetic,” the homeowner says.

Because of the flat roof design, the ceiling on the second floor was dropped to hide ductwork. The dropped ceiling also creates a cozier feeling in the bedroom areas, the homeowner says.

The master bathroom has a separate glass shower that overlooks a rectangular tub, which has a stylish surround with open shelving for towel storage. On the opposite side of the room is a vanity and lots of cabinetry.

The family has lived in the home since September and are enjoying every inch. “We wanted to enjoy the whole house and we have accomplished that. There is no unused space in the home.”

The homeowner’s favourite space is the kitchen. “I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen. I love the flow of the house. I’d take a dinner party over going out to a restaurant any day.”

The fully sound-proofed theatre is popular with the rest of the family. “It’s one of the things we felt was a bit of an indulgence, but it gets used so much by the kids and their friends,” the homeowner says. “My wife and other moms in the neighbourhood show up in their pyjamas and watch movies.”

The homeowners also love the way the home fits perfectly into its treed setting. “We wanted nature to be part of the landscape of the house,” he says. It took a year to find the perfect Oakville property. An existing bungalow was demolished and digging for the foundation began. Then the homeowners got a call from the builder. The good news: the project was on time. The bad news: the property’s bad soil wouldn’t support the foundation.
Workers had to dig down an extra eight feet, truck in soil and pour a concrete sub-foundation. That delayed the project for a couple of weeks and cost more than $100,000 so a pool was slashed from the plan.

Luckily that was the project’s only setback. “We’re really very happy with the house. (Building) it was a great experience,” the homeowners say.
Everyone enjoyed working on the house – it gave people a chance to be creative, the homeowner says.