A dazzling outdoor living space has captured the 2019 Ottawa Citizen People’s Choice Award at the Housing Design Awards in the capital. It’s the second year in a row that an exterior space has taken the prestigious award at the annual gala event, which is hosted by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.
The modern-themed, multi-area backyard in Greely is the work of Greenmark Builders and Rinox Signature. It’s the second time Greenmark has won the People’s Choice Award, its previous trophy coming in 2015 for a home that Greenmark owner Mark Kranenburg built for his own family.
Greenmark also took the trophy this year in the custom home category, 3,000 square feet or less.
“I’m blown away,” said an exuberant Kranenburg after winning this year’s People Choice award on Oct. 19. “I’m humbled. With the amount of votes this year, that blows my mind!”
Those votes numbered more than 8,700 cast by the general public online during six weeks of preliminary rounds and at a final round that coincided with the Ottawa Fall Home Show in September. That number was a new record.
“The Ottawa Citizen’s People Choice Awards gives the public the chance to dream of their ideal lifestyle based on home features,” says Jason Burggraaf, executive director of the builders’ association. “This year’s winner shows a desire for functional and fun outdoor living spaces.”
That dream-worthy space includes a 33-foot pool with a hot tub, a raised dining patio with an integrated barbecue, an L-shaped lounge anchored by a fire feature, and a three-season pool house with remote-controlled retractable screens, an outdoor kitchen and a fireplace. To call the project resort-inspired seems like an understatement.
The space is also closely integrated with the rear of the home, which was not built by Greenmark. While the home, with its heavy rear massing and extensive stone work, has a traditional feel and the outdoor space is very modern, the two areas are visually linked by the home’s projection into the outdoor area and a series of broad, stone steps that lead down into the exterior expanse.
Tim Brown was the project manager on the space, which was just grass and a small patio before Greenmark, Eden Design (which designed the project including the landscaping), and Rinox Signature (which supplied the extensive stone and installed the pool) moved in.
“It was all top notch,” says Brown. “There’s even tongue-and-groove cedar inside the pump room. There was no sparing of detail.”
Cedar was used as well for the vaulted ceiling of the pool house. That was Brown’s idea. “I wanted the smell of cedar, and that vaulted ceiling gets warm in the summer, so you get that fresh smell in there.”
He also points to the painted brick veneer in the space, noting that its texture contrasts with the large, smooth tiles of the fireplace surround and how that contrast helps make to the open-flame fire the room’s focal point.
The deck around the pool is a composite material for long life, and Brown says it and the cedar inside the pool house are a perfect colour match — a Brazilian walnut that required the blending of two stains to get the pool house cedar just the right shade.
The backyard has a strong linear design, lending the space its modern feel. That’s been softened with diverse vegetation and a lighting design that includes fixtures in the grass so that, at night, the light cascades up the trees.
Although this year’s People’s Choice winner is very different from the 2018 winner by Neoteric Developments, both projects underscore our fondness for well-designed and workable outdoor spaces.
Many of us want more living space but love the home we’re already in and are averse to spending a lot on an addition, says Brown.
Taking our dreams into our backyards means, “you’re expanding your living area at a fraction of the cost (of adding on) and you can enjoy the outdoor season.”