Unified Front

An open-concept design adds visual spaciousness to this home.

By Randy Threndyle
Photos by Brian Barrer

Located in the rolling hills of Simcoe County, northwest of Barrie, Ontario, the community of Snow Valley was the ideal spot for Denise and Mike Kalesnikoff to construct their first custom-built home. They had renovated several homes in the past, but had always dreamed of a building a new home from scratch.

On their first visit to the area, the couple knew they had found the location for their dream home. The community is built around the Snow Valley ski resort and is also close to several golf courses. Mike and Denise found the perfect piece of land on a cul-de-sac made up of eight estate lots. Their chosen lot was 1.5 acres located at the end of the street.

The treed, ravine lot offered the couple a small-town atmosphere and the amenities of the city of Barrie which is only a 10 minute drive away.

“We liked the conveniences of Barrie, but we wanted a community that had space – where we had neighbours nearby but we weren’t isolated. We also wanted that small community feel. It’s a very inviting and welcoming community,” says Denise, adding that the whole neighbourhood is very involved in local schools and community activities.

With a blank slate, but lots of ideas, the couple hired Dendor Fine Homes, a Barrie-area home building company operated by Roger and Julie Jackson. Dendor turned out to be the ideal builders, says Denise. The family-run company, she says, was wonderful to deal with and offers a great product.
Over the years the couple had gathered a number of ideas.

Dendor offered them the flexibility to pull those ideas together in the home. The final design took a few months to complete using computer-aided design. “It was a back and forth process. Put this in, take that out,” says Mike.

The six-bedroom house offers the family 6,500 square feet of finished space on three levels and amenities such as a fully finished basement, cathedral ceilings and four gas fireplaces, two of which are double-sided.

Built around an open concept, the couple wanted a home that would offer open space with a second floor overlooking the living space. The main floor is approximately 2,750 square feet and has 20-foot cathedral ceilings in the kitchen and great room. The two rooms are separated by a free-standing, double-sided fireplace.

The upper level is about 1,000 square feet and has a landing that overlooks the kitchen and great room living space. This level has three bedrooms and two bathrooms for the couple’s children. The master suite, which has 16-foot cathedral ceilings, is located on the main floor. Two more bedrooms are located in the lower basement level.

Denise, an interior decorator, and Mike, who runs several businesses, wanted the house to have a unified look. To achieve that they chose materials that could be used throughout the house.

For instance, the cultured stone used on the exterior of the home is the same type of stone that is used on the striking free-standing, double-sided fireplace that separates the home’s great room and kitchen.

The stone used for the fireplace was a stock colour, but for the exterior, the couple wanted a darker stone, with lighter stone mixed in to give depth to the design. Unable to find a shade that would match their design, the couple approached the stone manufacturer, Dutch Quality Stone, an Ohio-based company, in search of a custom colour. Dutch Quality agreed to produce a special-order stone for the exterior, which they named Midnight Weather Ledge.

The home’s floor-to-ceiling fireplace actually begins in the basement where a second double-sided fireplace separates two finished areas, a sitting room and a games room. On the main floor, the free-standing fireplace rises 20 feet to meet the cathedral ceiling.

The fireplace, says Mike, forms part of the structure of the house as it hides two massive steel beams that run from the basement to the roof and form part of the roof structure. “It’s not all looks, it’s structural as well,” he says.

Both the interior and exterior of the home were built to have an old world look combined with a contemporary sophistication. For example, a wrought iron chandelier in the great room is counterbalanced with contemporary furniture.

Since the home incorporates an open floor plan with extra high cathedral ceilings, simple trim and moulding was used to soften the look and add dimension to the space. In the great room a coffered ceiling, simple trim and wainscoting add depth and give the room scale.

“We wanted to keep it simple with flat trim stock and high baseboards,” says Denise. They also added larger, nine-foot, solid-wood doors which were custom ordered. The larger doors are meant to complement the extra high ceilings. The simple, flat-panel doors match the trim to create a unified look throughout the large open spaces. In addition, the doors are stained ebony, the same colour used on the kitchen cabinets and the oak floors that are installed throughout the house.
To further unify the house, two other fireplaces are trimmed with black granite, which is the same granite used on the kitchen countertops. The kitchen’s centrepiece is a 12-foot island backed by cabinets that are 10 feethigh. The countertops have a leathered finish which was achieved by using a power washer to remove the softer surface stone. That gives the granite a textured look and feel.

Even the countertops in the laundry room and pantry match the granite countertops in the kitchen. “People laugh when I tell them I have granite countertops in my laundry room,” Mike says, “but we wanted to keep the flow consistent.”