Room to Grow

An innovative floorplan ensures this home’s relevance for years to come

When homeowners intend to remain in a house indefinitely, the stakes are much higher during the design process. They want to ensure the floorplan and the features they incorporate will see them through several stages of life.

That was the situation that faced David and Annie, who reside in Blyth. They discussed the elements of their ideal home many times before having the plans drawn. Word-of-mouth recommendations then led them to residential designer Brad Oke, who transformed the plans from an approximation of what the couple wanted to exactly what they wanted.

“The design we had looked great on paper, but Brad and the rest of the Okes tweaked it so it actually worked,” David recalls.

Oke added many details, including plenty of storage in the lower level and garage for the family’s sports equipment. He also designed half closets, 10 feet long by three feet high, beneath the slanted walls in the children’s second-floor bedrooms. Doors, painted with whimsical scenes, open to a private play area created with the couple’s two young sons and daughter in mind.

“It’s all the little things that we would never think or would never have considered,” David says. “If we had to build our house all over again, there isn’t one thing we would change. We wound up with exactly what we wanted and then some. It’s a relief, too, because we truly don’t intend to ever build or move again.”

Because the couple entertains frequently, Oke encouraged them to include a servery between their kitchen and dining area. In addition to being practical, it’s a stylish area with display cabinets, a warming drawer and a granite counter that serves as a buffet.

In planning the home, David and Annie particularly wanted an open-concept great room with a large fireplace as a focal point and plenty of windows. Their aim was to create a welcoming living area that wasn’t formal. “We wanted a room that was very bright naturally,” David says.

While there were some elements they hoped to include, such as timber frame trusses in the great room, Oke dissuaded them because he believed they wouldn’t conform to the overall design of the home.

“Brad really discouraged that and we’re glad he did,” David says.

Construction of the home began in January 2003 and was completed nearly a year later. Insulated Concrete Forms make the home quiet and energy efficient.

“It was an all-round really neat experience,” David says of working with Oke.

Located on a rise, the home’s front elevation imparts the essence of a century home with its stone exterior and deep front porch distinguished by round posts and a white railing. Pale stone surrounds draw attention to large double-hung windows.

Creating a good fit between the home and its neighbourhood was the designer’s aim. “We wanted to make it look like a house that had always been on the site,” recalls Oke. “It was surrounded by century homes and we wanted to give it that century look – the big thing was to pick the right materials to give it that look.”

Oke chose square-cut manufactured stone in shades of rose, sand and slate that would resemble the size and shape of the natural stone used in older homes in Blyth. The stone, which had never been previously used in that size, was purchased from Shouldice Designer Stone in Shallow Lake near Wiarton.

The stone was also used at the rear of the home in a massive fireplace that provides outdoor entertaining opportunities for the family. The fireplace forms a focal point in an garden that also includes a dining area highlighted by raised flowerbeds and a dramatic granite water feature.

Inside, the home’s 2,500-square-foot floorplan reveals a departure in theme from the traditional exterior. The open-concept design includes interesting ceiling heights and innovative ways of utilizing natural light.

The great room, which is located to the right of the front foyer, features a vaulted ceiling and angled windows on each side of an immense fireplace of Georgian Bay ledge rock. Built-in bookcases, finished with fluted pilasters and crown mouldings, display the couple’s collection of soapstone sculptures and wood carvings.

A second vaulted ceiling distinguishes the dining area, which incorporates a curved transom window above a garden door. Pale yellow walls, maple floors and off-white woodwork make the rooms airy and appealing.

The main hallway leads from a home office off the foyer to the kitchen, which was designed as much for the children in the family as the adults. A small breakfast table beside a butcher block-style maple island allows the children to do their homework while Annie prepares a meal.

Chalkboards on the refrigerator and freezer doors perform a similar function. “I love the fact that when I’m in the kitchen, they can be writing on the chalkboard,” Annie says.

The nine-foot ceiling in the kitchen opens up to a soaring two-storey height above the workspace along a rear wall. Two skylights aid air circulation and illuminate the workspace, which features granite counters in shades of moss green and coffee, as well as cabinetry with a cream rub-through finish.

A powder room, a bright laundry room and a mudroom equipped with a built-in bench and cabinets complete the main floor.

From the foyer, a maple staircase leads to the second floor, which features an inviting master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, as well as a children’s bathroom and three bedrooms. Radiant in-floor heating on the first and second floors, as well as in the lower level and in the garage, make the home comfortable year-round.

“I love it in the bathroom in the wintertime,” Annie says. “When I get out of the shower, the floor is nice and warm.”

A lower-level guest retreat, designed with extended family members in mind, includes a family room, a bedroom and a bathroom. It’s just one more detail in a home that fits this family to a T.

“It’s great for our kids, it’s great for having friends or family over. It’s a very liveable home,” David says.

Annie appreciates the natural light that fills the home, as well as the towering maple and spruce trees that cast shade on the front porch. “It never feels as if I’m enclosed,” she says. “With the old trees all around, sitting on the porch just feels rejuvenating – just having nature so close to our home.”

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While anyone can build a house, we believe it’s much harder to build a home. Infusing a building with personality and function comes from listening to our clients throughout the construction process.

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