A multi-award-winning custom home in Ottawa is a study in successful contradictions, or at least how to blend opposites with panache.
It looks old but was built new; it’s both traditional and modern; it has rustic and glamorous touches; and it feels expansive yet cosy.
The combination was a hit with judges at this fall’s Ottawa Housing Design Awards put on by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, winning four trophies at an awards gala Nov. 4 that saw the designers (West of Main) and the builders (Art & Stone Group) repeatedly parade to the stage. Of note, those four awards were among nine wins West of Main had on the night — the most of anyone at this year’s awards — and included the firm being named designer of the year for the second time in four years.
“This home is very special,” says Andrew Decristoforo of Art & Stone, which was the 2021 custom builder of the year. “It’s something you would see in a global magazine.”
The four-bedroom custom home is a delightful blend of traditional European flavour with flashes of glamour, thoughtful details, modern comforts and West of Main’s signature “refined elegance” style. It was commissioned by a professional athlete and his wife as their off-season and forever home and they wanted a home that felt earthy yet refined.
“We wanted thoughtful moody accents, injections of natural and raw materials and to merge classic elements with modern features,” they say. (The owners asked to remain anonymous.) “Even though we were building a new home from the ground up, we wanted to create elements that would look like they have been there all along.”
They bought the vacant waterfront lot in 2020, then brought an initial design by architectural technologist David Bekkers to West of Main, who helped refine the owners’ vision.
“We love West of Main’s style and their turnkey service was perfect for us as we were living abroad during the process of design and construction,” the owners say. “They introduced us to the builder and were involved from start to finish to make sure the design intention was followed through.”
The evolution of the design process may have begun with a European esthetic, says West of Main co-owner Sascha Lafleur, “but that can take many different palettes and going through the concept phase really nailed down the true feel of what they were looking for in the house.”
The home’s living room, kitchen and primary suite set the tone, adds West of Main lead designer Josée Sigouin. “This is where we incorporated reclaimed beams, natural limestone to bring nature inside and created really impactful focal points and oversized features like the fireplace and the range hood that really dictated how those spaces were going to feel.”
At 3,500 square feet the home is not small, but it also punches above its weight, thanks to a layout that flows well, creating purposeful vantage points throughout and a living room ceiling that soars 33 feet.
Featuring a wall of windows overlooking the water, an equally soaring fireplace surround that repeats the hand-chiseled limestone of the home’s exterior, and a ceiling clad in chocolate-stained cedar, the living room becomes a welcoming family gathering place that feels both relaxing and refined.
“We were constantly on this line of wanting to bring nature in but not have it look ultimately like a chalet, so having enough refinement and classic features to it to maintain its elegance,” says Lafleur.
Beside the living room, the kitchen is a stunner, boasting a dazzling stove wall with backsplash and hood vent in hammered glossy black tile to complement the mixture of ebony and custom-stained white oak cabinets. The original concept called for white tile, but the owners wanted something with more impact. “We took that and ran with it,” says Sigouin. Behind that feature wall is a walk-through pantry that’s equally moody.
The kitchen won awards at both the local Housing Design Awards and the provincial Awards of Distinction put on by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.
Upstairs, the primary suite includes a soothing bedroom with its own coffee station, a spa-like ensuite with an incredible view and a secluded balcony perfect for relaxing with a morning coffee or evening nightcap. The suite won awards for all three spaces.
“It’s a great space to escape at the end of the day — and wake up to,” says Sigouin.
Also on the owners’ wish list: a music room that could double as a playroom, a gym, an office and space for their golf simulator. The simulator found a home on the mezzanine of a heated detached garage meant for “toy” storage and a workshop.
“The home was designed around our lifestyle and plans for our future family,” they say. “When we created our wish list during the design development, we considered what we would be needing for the future, keeping some rooms versatile in case we decided to change their purpose down the line.”
Choosing a favourite part of their home is a tough one, they say, before adding: “Aside from the entire home being a dream, the kitchen and living room turned out exactly how we envisioned. The primary bedroom and walk-out balcony are definitely a close second.”
And they’re not surprised it won so many awards.
“We feel as though it stands out in this city, with its charming design choices and European sensibilities, which are not common in local new construction these days. We are proud to call this our home.”