Stress-free new home construction experience
An award-winning house with an award-winning view is a dream come true for Carrie and Gerald. Their home sits on a waterfront lot in Bluewater’s Highlands II area, where they enjoy the sunsets.
In 2017, the London Home Builders’ Association awarded Oke Woodsmith Building Systems Inc. Best New Kitchen in a Home Over $600,000, Best Outdoor Living Space, Best New Exterior and Best New Single-
Family Home Over $850,000. That same year, they were also awarded Most Outstanding New Home Bathroom for this house from the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.
From the moment you see the exterior, you know it is special. The roof lines mimic waves on the lake behind the house. A full wall of oversized windows opens the house to the lake. “The lake is the focal point. Our view is all windows,” says Gerald. “All we see is lake. It is very private here.”
Double doors with a circle motif welcome you into a spacious entry. The circle theme is repeated in round and arched windows and a grand Palladian window on the front façade. Inside, a glass railing on the catwalk between bedrooms on the second level allows that view to continue. The principal bedroom opens to a balcony with more glass railing and a hot tub to enjoy the view.
Another special feature is the Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) foundation. Unlike conventional foundations – in which the forms are removed after pouring – the forms remain with ICF, increasing the insulation on
either side of the concrete. An ICF wall is also stronger due to the improved curing environment. Those factors are important for the house, which is 1,460 square feet on both the lower and main levels and 1,350 on the upper level.
Gerald and his two sons, his brother and nephew own Van Osch Farms, a cattle and cash crop operation. Carrie and he wanted to include a bit of the farm in their house, without it being country. Gerald power-washed beams from one of their old barns, and Oke recessed them into the ceiling of the great room. Another became a mantel for the gas fireplace on the lower level. They also hauled in boulders from the fields for the landscaping.
Two stained glass windows from Carrie’s parents’ place found a new home. One is in the kitchen to provide privacy at the front of the house, eliminating the need for curtains.
When it came to the details, Carrie enlisted the help of cabinet designer Yvonne McLeod – and a lot of Pinterest
surfing. “My style is shabby chic,” she says. From the huge chandelier gracing the great room to mirrored furniture pieces and a subdued palette, the look is comfortable and inviting with a little glamour.
The beautiful stone wall is a commanding feature. “I wanted a big chunky mantel because it is a big room,” she says. “Kevin (Oke) worked three weeks on that fireplace placing the stone,” says Gerald of the massive stone wall.
With four bedrooms and three full baths plus a half bath and outside shower, the house accommodates their blended family of five children and two grandchildren when they visit.
To meet size restrictions and find room for Gerald’s convertible, a lift system conveys the car to the lower level of what looks like a two-car garage.
Carrie grew up with Kevin Oke, so turning to a friend to build her house was a natural choice. “We trust them,” she says. Gerald was impressed by Oke Woodsmith’s work. “It is above anyone else’s. They’re tuned into what’s happening. They know a lot about building houses.” Gerald’s brother Fred also built a house with Oke. (See Lure of the Lake story.) Carrie liked the way Oke Woodsmith catered to her wishes. “They asked us for a wish list and said anything is possible.”
One item on the wish list was added after Oke took the couple to the builders’ home show in Las Vegas. To abide by the conservation authority’s footprint requirement, the covered porch is considered an outdoor space.
A sliding glass NanaWall from Germany that the couple saw in Vegas turns it into a room for most of the year, except when the wind blows its coldest off the lake. The flexible system navigates 90 degrees. A second set of full sliding glass doors on the exterior of the covered porch gives way to having the whole area open to nature. The open concept is great for large groups and is adjacent to the award-winning kitchen, which is a his-and-hers space. “Hers is the kitchen, mine is the bar,” says Gerald. “It’s nice for entertaining.”
A trip to a luxury resort in Mexico added another item – a walk-around headboard wall in the master bedroom. “I took pictures and said, ‘This is what I would love’,” says Carrie. The ensuite is accessible from either side of the bed. “The master bathroom is pretty cool,” says Gerald. The tub stands in front of a window wall beneath a barrel ceiling. For their closet, Carrie didn’t want to see the clothes hanging from the bathroom, so they are hidden behind doors. A washer and dryer in the closet make laundry handy.
To keep farm dirt and odours at bay, Gerald has his own entry off the garage with a change room and bath. And a separate laundry room on this level handles his farm clothes and the household linens. The main floor ‘beach bathroom’ features a walk-through outdoor shower and a vanity lit from below. A feature wall in the wine cellar is a photo of marble mounted on glass. The guest bathroom is wheelchair accessible, and an elevator shaft is roughed in, making the home age friendly.
“The knowledge they have, you can see the value of it,” says Gerald. “The way they build is craftsmanship. Usually, a building project is very stressful. This was not. Oke Woodsmith knew how to help us through the stress.”