McKellar Park custom infill: Creating a family friendly home

Custom infill homes in Ottawa are often built when a homeowner loves where their home is located, but the home itself just can’t meet their needs. Such was the case for a McKellar Park two-storey designed by Ardington and Associates Design and built by Maple Leaf Custom Homes. The family friendly contemporary was a finalist in last fall’s Housing Design Awards.

The clients were a young family of five needing a large, functional space to grow, and the home that had been on the property was a small two-storey that was dated and not well maintained over the years, says Ardington’s principal designer, Steve Ardington.

“After seeing what we had to work with, it was an easy decision (to build new), given the family’s design requirements, which involved doubling the square footage of the previous home.”


The challenge for Ardington became fitting all the design requirements within the allowable building area on the property. “The site was smaller than most and needed to be designed carefully to allow for privacy, but still bring as much natural light as possible. Luckily for us, the orientation allowed for western exposure on the backyard, allowing for beautiful sunsets.

“We wanted to take full advantage of this, so we designed floor-to-ceiling glass walls across the back overlooking an inground swimming pool.”

maple leaf ardington and associates nathan kyle backyard pool
The pool takes up most of the backyard, with landscaping around it maximized for outdoor living. And floor-to-ceiling windows across the back of the home take advantage of the west-facing view. Photo:

Including the pool was another challenge. The family was coming from a larger property with a big swimming pool — a feature they really wanted to have in their new home, he says, “so we needed to make sure there was room for it.”


In fact, the pool takes up most of the backyard, surrounded by thoughtful hardscaping to create functional outdoor spaces for the family to enjoy around it.

The exterior is a modern, minimal design clad in natural wood siding and limestone to keep it “Canadiana,” Ardington says. “We wanted to keep a very natural colour palette, with materials and textures found locally that are synonymous with Canada.”

custom infill maple leaf custom homes ardington and associates nathan kyle contemporary
The front of the home is designed with community in mind, including a large covered porch for interacting with neighbours. Photo:

The exterior is a mix of wood siding, including the soffits and garage door, and natural limestone in various cuts. The front of the home is designed with community in mind,” he says. “We incorporated a large covered porch to interact with the neighbourhood and watch some intense basketball games in the driveway.”

Maple Leaf Ardington and Associates limestone foyer
A limestone wall in the foyer continues the Canadiana theme. Photo:

Inside, the limestone also makes an appearance in the entryway and fireplace and the wood tones of the exterior carry through the interior of the home.

Designed in collaboration with Nathan Kyle, who was a designer with Astro Design Centre at the time and has since started his own firm, Nathan Kyle Studio, the interior is a mix of contemporary and more traditional elements.

“We’re trying to appeal to somebody that has a comfort level with some traditional elements,” Kyle says. “There’s some very classic traditional elements to feel timeless.” The kitchen, in particular, blends clean lines with more traditional lower cabinets, mosaic backsplash and trim moulding around the tile.


The goal in the kitchen was to create a space that was light and airy. That’s done through the colouring — the depth of the navy, combined with wood and the white up top — and a lack of upper cabinets, as well as lots of natural light. “It just doesn’t look very kitchen-y, which is really the intent.”

He points to the kitchen island as a key feature, with its U-shaped mitred walnut butcher block section cut into the stone. “It takes centre stage with accessible storage around and ample enough seating for this large family.”

custom infill maple leaf custom homes ardington and associates nathan kyle transitional kitchen two-tone
The large island is the focal point of the kitchen, featuring a U-shaped mitred walnut butcher block for table-like family gathering. Photo:

Another key feature for Kyle is the walnut screen divider that separates the dining room at the front of the home from the staircase next to it. Repeating the walnut used in the kitchen, it’s meant to tie into it while providing definition for the dining room. Done in 6×6 walnut posts spaced slightly apart, the screen creates a play of light and shadow in both the dining room and the staircase.


The screen also repeats a similar feature in the backyard, where a cedar screen provides privacy and filters light into the covered sitting area.

The project took about 12 months to complete, a process that was complicated by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is also when the project started, says Maple Leaf partner Brian Saumure. Trades and contractors had to continually adapt to new regulations related to COVID, supply issues had to be overcome and “maintaining the budget against the inflationary pressure in the market was a constant battle.”

But despite the headaches, Ardington says the clients made it worthwhile. “They were so fun and easy-going and put their full trust in our work.”


About the Author

Anita Murray All Things Home Ottawa homes

Anita Murray

Anita Murray is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and owner of Three C Communications. The veteran journalist has covered the Ottawa housing industry since 2011.



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