It was an interesting mix of dominance vs. disbursement in the 2019 Housing Design Awards.
At the Ottawa housing industry’s much-anticipated gala awards dinner Oct. 19 at the Shaw Centre, more than three dozen of the region’s top builders, designers and renovators were rewarded for outstanding designs in 51 categories ranging from kitchens and bathrooms to new homes, renovations and housing details.
There were many winners, which speaks to the diversity of talent in the city, but there were also some that stood out for their dominance, either in number of wins or as perennial winners in specific categories.
It was the 36th year for the awards, which are organized by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA). About 550 attended the gala event — an evening that was extremely well done, says Larry Clay of B.C.-based Clay Construction, who was one of the judges.
“Having attended many national, provincial and local awards, the GOHBA awards were top notch.”
The awards “illustrate the best of the best for those looking to purchase a new home or enhance their current home,” says GOHBA executive director Jason Burggraaf. More than 300 entries were submitted, with 12 judges comprised of industry experts from across the country whittling them down to 174 finalists and winners.
“There were some really creative designs, really beautiful finishes,” says judge Michael Shaw of Saskatoon’s Centennial Kitchen & Bath.
Another judge, Graham Schlender of Highgate Homes in Halifax, was equally impressed. “The attention to detail was phenomenal.”
Leading the pack
The top performer of the night was kitchen and bath specialist Astro Design Centre, which walked away with eight trophies on the night. Even more remarkable, seven of those wins were for projects by one designer — Nathan Kyle, who has been making a name for himself since he exploded onto the Ottawa design scene in 2014 when he scooped up four awards at that year’s Ottawa chapter National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) awards gala.
“Everyone offered me a dolly last night” to carry out all the trophies, he said the following morning. “I think it was the standing joke.”
Although no stranger to winning, he was taken aback by the outcome. “I was on a high, but it was mentally draining,” he says. “At the end of the day, you do it for the clients, you do it for yourself if you want to push the envelope, but I look forward to the awards show every year… It makes the competition breed more excellence in everybody. It was really nice to be awarded for coming out on top.”
Also having a good night was Hobin Architecture, which had the second most wins with five, equalling the company’s total at last year’s awards. Two of Hobin’s wins were shared with Astro, while the others came in production building categories.
Like last year, Hobin dominated new community/multi-unit categories, winning for both mid-rise and high-rise buildings (shared with Tamarack Homes), as well as claiming the new community category along with eQ Homes for eQuinelle in Kemptville. Hobin and eQ won the new community category last year as well, for Greystone Village in Old Ottawa East, and Hobin has repeatedly won mid- and high-rise building categories in recent years.
Founding partner Barry Hobin says the company has been on a “run of doing place making… a lot of these projects where it’s bigger than the actual buildings; we’re actually creating a space in the city.” The Tamarack project is like that, he says, a three-part project (low-rise condo, high-rise rental, renovation of the Bethany Hope community centre) that “speaks to things larger than the buildings; it speaks to creating urban spaces.”
Who else dominated?
Gordon Weima Design Builder: In an unusual feat, the veteran renovator and builder won two of the sought-after special achievement awards — custom builder of the year and designer of the year, along with winning a custom home category.
“I’m humbled at it yet honoured to be voted builder and designer of the year. It blew my mind,” Weima said following the awards. He did not expect the recognition, noting the strength of “the talent in Ottawa’s architectural and design world that we have now compared to years ago. I think the bar’s been raised so high and that’s great to see.”
Weima was named custom builder of the year in 2017 as well.
Amsted Design-Build: For the fifth time in 10 years (and the eighth time overall), Amsted Design-Build has been named the renovator of the year. And for the third time in six years, Amsted was also named Ontario renovator of the year last month in the annual Ontario Home Builders’ Association Awards of Distinction. It’s the second time the well-known renovator has won both local and provincial honours in the same year.
“My email’s blowing up from all the guys and gals on the team celebrating,” says Amsted president Steve Barkhouse. “It’s just crazy exciting.”
Amsted also picked up wins for a kitchen project (with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets) and for a home renovation.
Dreaming of home: Just as it did last year, the Minto dream home captured multiple production home categories. This year, the 2018 dream home won for its kitchen and master ensuite for not only Minto, but designer Tanya Collins and Laurysen Kitchens. It also won its production home category.
As a bonus, Minto Communities was declared the production builder of the year.
“The recognition means a lot for our team, who put so much into their everyday job across our group,” says Brent Strachan, division president of Minto Communities Ottawa. And when it comes to the dream home, he says it’s “a great example of everyone on our team coming together to design and build the perfect dream home. There’s always extra motivation for everyone when you’re building a home that tens of thousands of people are going to walk through AND it will help raise millions for CHEO.”
Basement beauties: For the eighth year in a row, Just Basements claimed the basement renovation category, this year with a project that includes an oh-so-fun playhouse tucked under the stairs — with its very own mailbox for letters from Gramma & Grampa.
A green machine: RND Construction is a leader when it comes to green building. Nothing says that more than the company’s seventh straight win for green custom home of the year, which it won this year along with Christopher Simmonds Architect.
This year’s winner is a Net Zero home in Alta Vista that RND built without having a buyer in place. The home, which was also a finalist earlier this year in the national awards held by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA), sold shortly after it was finished.
Chris Hewett, who teaches architectural technology at Algonquin College, was one of two local judges evaluating the submissions this year and was charged with judging both the green and special achievement categories. He was impressed by the entries.
“Looking at the designs, reading the designer, builder, renovator of the year comments, the feedback from the customers — I’m inspired. I want to go and work at one of these places,” he says. “I’m proud… of the industry that we have to provide for the public in these homes; it’s phenomenal.”
What about trends?
There were several trends noted last year that popped up again this year, such as blue kitchens, designing with white, geometrics and bold neutrals. But there were new ones to add as well, including:
- an increasing use of corner windows among production builders
- lots of clerestory or transom windows
- shiplap on walls and ceilings (we’re also seeing that one in this year’s Minto dream home as part of the CHEO Dream of a Lifetime Lottery)
- a return of herringbone or chevron tile patterns, and
- open shelving creeping into bathroom vanities.
Judge Brett Cass, who co-ordinates the Net Zero Home Labelling Program for the CHBA, also finds that energy-efficient homes are growing in popularity in the Ottawa area. “I was particularly impressed with the production builds; it is becoming more and more evident that high-performance homes are now very attainable outside of the luxury home market.”
Fellow judge Daryl Shannon, who is president of Saskatoon, Sask., custom home builder Delonix Homes, agrees.
“It’s great to see the gravitational pull to a more environmentally conscious build,” he notes. “Although in previous years there has been a reluctance for homeowners to pay the added expense of energy-efficient methods of building, education and competitive manufacturing are making the choices easier for homeowners to build with a focus on energy conservation.”
Shannon also found that “crisp and clean lines dressed with a pallet of whites continue to be a big trend that will prove to be timeless. Subtle accents of natural woods and metal elements are also refreshing touches that we are seeing across the design platform.”
In the bathroom…
As a bathroom specialist, Shaw also noticed how designers are making accessibility attractive. “There were a lot of barrier-free showers, a lot of easy-to-clean materials that were really design-forward,” he says.
He also likes the greater focus on showers, “more so than the standalone tubs we’ve been seeing for a long time,” and making them beautiful as well as practical.
Here’s a look at all the winning projects
Production home attached, 2,000 sq. ft. or less: Tamarack Homes for the Cardiff, a three-storey town at Cardinal Creek Village.
Production home, single detached, $625,001-$750,000: Richcraft Homes for the Pinefield, also at Pathways at Findlay Creek. Richcraft won a similar category last year (some category names are slightly altered this year).
Production home, single detached, 3,500 sq. ft. or more: Minto Communities and Tanya Collins Design for the 2018 Minto dream home that was part of the grand prize in the CHEO Dream of a Lifetime Lottery.
New community: eQ Homes & Hobin Architecture for eQuinelle in Kemptville. eQ & Hobin won the same category last year, for Greystone Village. eQuinelle was also named best community at last year’s sales & marketing awards put on by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.
Production kitchens & bathrooms
Production kitchen, 175 sq. ft. or less: Potvin & Claridge Homes for the Colvin single at Spring Valley Trails. This was a popular category, with 12 entries.
Production kitchen, 176 sq. ft. or more: Minto Communities, Tanya Collins Design & Laurysen Kitchens for the Creekside, which was the 2018 dream home in the Dream of Lifetime Lottery to benefit CHEO.
Production bathroom: Minto Communities, Tanya Collins Design & Laurysen Kitchens. The Creekside also won for its master ensuite in a category that was the third most popular of the night, garnering 15 entries.
The Minto dream home ensuite also won at this spring’s NKBA Ottawa awards.
Custom kitchen, 175 sq. ft. or less, contemporary: Astro Design Centre, designed by Nathan Kyle, who had to get creative around bulky concrete condo construction and heating and cooling fixtures that could not be moved.
Custom kitchen, 176-250 sq. ft., traditional: This one is also won by Astro Design Centre, designed by Julia Enriquez. Astro won this category last year as well and this year it was the 2nd most popular category with 16 entries.
Custom kitchen, 176-250 sq. ft., contemporary: Johnny B Drywall & GOHBA newcomer Art & Stone Group. This was the most popular category this year, with a whopping 18 entries. The winning design sought to find a balance between the needs of a serious amateur chef while keeping the esthetics soft, uncluttered and open.
Custom kitchen, 251 sq. ft. or more, $75,000 and under: Potvin, for a contemporary kitchen with a 270-degree view of the Ottawa River.
Custom kitchen, 251 sq. ft. or more, traditional, $75,001 and over — John Laurysen Memorial Trophy:
Astro Design Centre, another Nathan Kyle design.
Custom kitchen, 251 sq. ft. or more, contemporary, $75,001 and over: Astro Design Centre & Hobin Architecture for a compact modern infill project that pays homage to Brutalist architecture, while still including contemporary design elements.
Custom bathroom, 100 sq. ft. or less, traditional: Astro Design Centre. Nathan Kyle also won an award for this project at the NKBA Ottawa awards earlier this year.
And for these awards, it was a favourite of judge Shaw’s, who loved the intricate tile layout in the shower, the textures, “and the dramatic size of the shower.”
Custom bathroom, 100 sq. ft. or less, contemporary: Astro Design Centre & Hobin Architecture, for a five-piece ensuite cleverly fit into a compact space.
Custom bathroom, 101 sq. ft. or more, traditional: Astro Design Centre. Yet another project by Nathan Kyle, and also a winner at this spring’s NKBA Ottawa awards, this ensuite was packed with details on every wall that needed to seamlessly integrate together.
Custom bathroom, 101 sq. ft. or more, contemporary: Hierarchy Development & Design, for an ensuite with a backlit translucent marble slab boasting 24 colours. “It looks like the fires of hell… it’s not my style but it definitely is visually stunning,” says judge Hewett.
Bathroom, powder room: Astro Design Centre (yup, Nathan Kyle again), for a moody powder room designed with drama in mind. The client wanted a unique space that felt like a theatrical experience for their guests, Astro says in its submission.
Custom home, 3,000 sq. ft. or less: Greenmark Builders, for a Manotick home that mixes the modern and the traditional.
Custom home, 3,001 sq. ft. or more: Brenmar Construction & André Godin Design, for another Manotick home, this one clad in limestone and glass with natural ash wood overhangs.
Custom urban home, 3,000 sq. ft. or less, traditional: Gordon Weima Design Builder, for a Westboro infill that’s “a little bit city, a little bit country,” the company says in its submission.
Custom urban home, 3,000 sq. ft. or less, contemporary: Ha2 Architectural Design & RND Construction for an infill with a dramatic angular façade that also won an award this fall from the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.
“That is shocking and stunning,” Hewett says of the home’s façade.
Custom urban home, 3,001 sq. ft. or more: Maple Leaf Custom Homes & Ardington + Associates Design, for a home that uses sculptural barriers to delineate spaces. Maple Leaf won a similar category last year.
Custom urban home, semi-detached: Canterra Design + Build, for a mirror image infill project with double tandem garages.
Custom urban home, multi-unit: Rosaline J. Hill Architect & Sherbrooke Urban Developments, for four townhouse-like units in Hintonburg. Judge Graham Schlender of Highgate Homes in Halifax thought the angled approach “was pretty spectacular to be that creative.”
Hill and Sherbrooke won the same category last year.
Condos & apartments
Low-rise apartment, condo or rental, up to 4 storeys: Claridge Homes, for the Lofts at Tribeca, which sold out earlier this year.
Mid-rise apartment, condo or rental, 5-9 storeys: Hobin Architecture & Tamarack Developments, for a six-storey mixed-use building in Hintonburg.
High-rise apartment, condo or rental, 10 storeys or more: Hobin Architecture & Tamarack Developments, for a sister building at the Hintonburg site, this one a rental called 1140 Wellington.
Condo or rental apartment suite, 551 sq. ft. or more: Phoenix Homes, for the income suite in its Klondike single-family model at Pathways at Findlay Creek.
Renovation $60,000-$100,000: 25:8 Architecture + Urban Design, a newcomer to the home builders’ association. The project revitalized an aging home on a limited budget by highlighting the existing structure and scars of the house to create an architecture celebrating the building’s character, the company says in its submission.
Renovation $100,001-$200,000: OakWood, for a fresh take on an Orléans home without altering the footprint.
Renovation $200,001-$350,000: Amsted Design-Build, for a whole home reno that included a fully outfitted garage for a vintage car lover.
Renovation $350,001-$550,000: Ardington + Associates Design, for the re-imagining of a boxy 1970s home.
Renovation $550,001 and over: Ardington + Associates Design, for a Glebe home that respects the heritage of the home while introducing modern elements.
Basement renovation: Just Basements, winning this category for the fifth year in a row. This year’s project includes a fun playhouse tucked under the stairs.
Housing details: Ha2 Architectural Design & RND Construction, for a gorgeous three-storey circular staircase in a home that also won its custom home category.
Any room in the house: Deslaurier Custom Cabinets & West of Main, for a drool-worthy walk-in closet that’s part of West of Main’s Karlsson Project — yes, meaning former Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson.
The closet also won an International Design & Architecture award in London, England, earlier this fall.
We won! So Proud to be bringing this International Design & Architecture Award home from London England. Thank you to our Canadian and New Zealand team and to the 83,000 people who voted globally. We’re so honored to have won among so many unbelievable designs! Floating on ☁️9 pic.twitter.com/bl8pFdIvyi
— West of Main Design (@Westofmain) September 21, 2019
Exterior details: Rosaline J. Hill Architect & Haslett Construction, for a Hintonburg project designed to complement existing cottage-style architecture common to the neighbourhood.
Exterior living space: Brenmar Construction, for a luxurious yet playful two-storey pool house with sunken hot tub, fireplace, loft guest quarters and more.
Anywhere in the world: Laurysen Kitchens, for a Toronto-area kitchen that makes the most of a narrow home.
Green production home of the year: Corvinelli Homes, for a three-bedroom bungalow in Russell.
Green custom home of the year: RND Construction & Christopher Simmonds Architect, for a Net Zero home in Alta Vista. It’s the 7th year in a row that RND has won this category.
Special Achievement Awards
Custom builder of the year: Gordon Weima Design Builder
Designer of the year: Gordon Weima Design Builder
Production builder of the year: Minto Communities
Renovator of the year: Amsted Design-Build
Ottawa Citizen People’s Choice
The final award of the evening was the coveted Ottawa Citizen’s People’s Choice Award, which is voted on by the public both online and at the Ottawa Fall Home Show in September. In a series of preliminary rounds of online voting spread over six weeks, followed by a final round coinciding with the home show, more than 8,700 votes were cast.
This year’s People’s Choice winner is an outdoor living space by Greenmark Builders and association newcomer Rinox Signature. The resort-inspired backyard includes a dining patio, pool, hot tub, pool deck, fire feature lounge, outdoor kitchen with bar and screened-in pool house with fireplace.