Thursday, August 29, 2013

Renovation Road

I've been stalking following a house renovation in our neighbourhood for a couple of years. Yes, that's right - a couple of years. The house originally went up for sale in approximately June 2011 - after the sale the process of permits, approval of the historical society and rebuilding began.  The original post with details on the homes history is HERE.

But let's cut to the chase and look at the house as it is appears today {still not complete}. This is Point O'View located at the foot of Trafalgar Road at the lakefront in Oakville.

The veranda's look out to Lake Ontario.
This house is literally steps to the shore of Lake Ontario. In addition to the incredible views of the lake {think the beauty in the summer, the storms over the water and the snow-scape in the winter}, the house benefits from the micro climate conditions right at the lake.

The house was built in 1902 - this is the property as it appeared in 2010.

The house was listed for $2.8 M, and after the two and a half years of process, permits, plus design and build costs the investments far exceed that number now. When the home sold it was 4,000 square feet and I was told by someone on the project that it is now 7,000+ square feet. The new homeowners were slated to move-in in June, however the process seemed to be delayed and although much of the house seemed complete the interior walls were not insulated and dry-walled. When I wandered by a few weeks ago you could see that crews were finally given the go-ahead to close in the walls.

Work on the exterior proceeded and the property has already started to take on a settled appearance. Anyone who has gone through a renovation can admit that beautifying the exterior is usually the last thing to happen, but this General Contractor took advantage of the wait time developing the beauty outside too.

A wood burning fireplace/oven is housed in the small structure {top left of the image}.

The half stone wall allows sunlight and lake breezes to be enjoyed by the pool and still brings privacy.

Like the house itself the mature trees bring history to the property. New plantings have been carefully selected to work with the era of the house.

The plantings are settling in quickly. I love the parking pad with grass growing between the brick.

Things have got to get a bit ugly and scary before they get pretty. The underpinning of this house had me wondering if the old home would survive the process.

the house was open and exposed for months

Many of the houses in our community must pass the approval process of the Historical Society. Albeit that it is important to preserve the heritage of the buildings at times it affects the buying/selling process. This house was kept within the general frame of the original building with a full excavation and underpinning. Some of the original windows remained on the house while others were replaced.
The balance is that the house has kept it's original character and has become more energy efficient. I also think the house has gained a tremendous amount of charm that will surely increase as layers of garden are added over the next few years.

People walk along the path at the lake and stop to take in the view of the house. 7,000 sq feet over three floors and multiple levels.

This area is still being worked on and I'm interested to see if it will be a water feature. The plinths with the custom iron arch is generally the embellishment for a wishing well.

Maybe added to the top of a well like this one at Patina Farm. image via Brooke's instagram

via pinterest

This is only a small part of what the new windows and veranda's are about.

Lake Ontario

I'm looking forward to seeing the finishing touches of this charming historical property and hoping that one of the Canadian shelter publications gets the opportunity to photograph it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Have a Glamourous Weekend

via Margaret de Lange for Skona Hem

Whether your weekend is filled with noisy, fun-filled gatherings or quiet time alone; I hope you drive in the Glamourous lane of life.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cardinal House : Our Wish List

The celebration of finally receiving the  building permits for our house was well deserved, but Richard and I are excited to see the first stages of the renovation/build begin.

The town we live in features established properties that are protected by the Historical Society, as well as many new but sizable homes. The charm of the historical homes and the quaintness of the town is what excited us about living in Oakville.

Oakville Harbour

Our search was far too long and the market has faced many adjustments since we first began the journey. Richard and I were frustrated with the options and yes - very picky. But there were more important things in life that needed our attention, so the house hunt went on hiatus for awhile. We know that everything happens for a special reason and we were obviously supposed to take this time searching for the house keys.

So what was on our 'wish list'?

       1)   A house with character or one that we could inject character into without it
             looking contrived {this is definitely our buzz word to keep it all in control}.  

       2)   An old home or a new build that had the character of an old home.
             No cookie cutter design or finishes.

       3)   A moderate size home and property that allows us to take care of the house
             easily and still have enough room to entertain.

       4)   I was open to many different styles and didn't mind a big staircase with
             bedrooms upstairs. Richard preferred a bungalow style the most {makes
             sense as you mature in life and we are building on the future}.

       5)   We preferred to be close to the water - but that comes with a much higher
              price tag than the neighbourhoods beyond the main street.

       6)   Must have mature tree's on the property or land beside the property where
             the trees are protected. A canopy of tree's was a big factor.

       7)   There must be enough space so we can host family/friends for large gatherings.   

We first stumbled upon the house we chose and kept referring to it as 'the tree house'. The house itself wasn't a selling point - it had 'good bones' that we could work with, but there was nothing in the design aspect we wanted to keep. The property and tree's literally sang to us. We stood in the yard and listened to the whisper of the tree's while the breeze blew through the property and knew it was singing our song.

But we still sat on the idea for several month because the house needed to have
e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g redone. In fact, the tree's we loved and the garden were so over-grown that it was scaring off potential buyers. We saw beyond the forest .... so to speak.

Inspection day - you couldn't even see the house.

So we took the floor plan from the real estate brochure,  I doctored it up and re-designed the house as I saw it working for us. After playing with the new pencil lined drawing we estimated the costs associated to redesign the house and property and added a sizable % for good measure. Then we called our Realtor to walk through the property with us.

first draft .......... oh so many changes along the way.

It was in July 2012 that a deal for the property was struck and the house keys were in hand last November. So what the heck has taken so long to get building permits? {we've been asked that a hundred times or more}.
The house backs onto a parcel of land owned by Halton Conservation and they had to approve the request for an addition before we submitted to the City of Oakville for a site plan approval and building permits.
That meant we had to obtain a geotech survey on the property that provides detail on the soil stability. It's costly  bloody expensive, a lengthy process and there is no guarantee at the end of the testing that you will get a green light to build. Although we knew prior to purchase that we might have to get a survey, we didn't anticipate the cost or length of the process - hrmphh!!
Our test results allowed the red flag on our property to be removed and the opportunity to proceed with a request to build {still not a full green light}.

And the inspiration to transform the boring beige and brown 1961 bungalow into our dream home ?? Well, it looks something like this ...........

The main focus of our renovation and design revolves around the 'vista of the house'. We did not want an open concept house, nor did we want it to be a series of rooms without flow. Finding the vista of the house meant finding the heart from the inside out. It is about more than just the design, it's about the experience.
When I rearranged the floor plan, the goal was to ensure that the view of the tree's outside could be appreciated inside. Walls and hallways have been moved so that when you step into the house you will look through to the beauty of the yard {well, it will be beautiful next year}.
It was only recently that I found a great article on Finding the Vista of a House - by Carla Aston. 

via unknown

via unknown

Jones & Pierce Architect

The placement of openings throughout the home should be carefully considered when trying to design an attractive vista that allows a glimpse into its heart. Carla Aston

Let's start at the beginning ....

The before : the entry steps right into the living area.

Currently the front of the house has no welcome mat - it's void of a covered entry or foyer space to allow guests to comfortably enter or depart. The new entryway will be built - OUT, in the space that was the front wooden porch and steps. The new covered stone porch and steps will extend beyond that point and a new walkway will be added.

The porch with a front entrance similar to this one will begin where the front steps currently end.

It was on our trips to France and Greece that Richard and I were charmed by the over-grouted worn stone. And while it's hard to inject the strength and elegance of Europe into a simple 1961 bungalow, we felt that the essence of the things we love can be conveyed. Delicately we will nudge the bungalow into a Provencal feel with the use of materials, soft tones, textures and a bevy of incredible antiques  {we've been shopping while we were waiting for the permits}.

in love with this stone work

Master bedroom inspiration

The kitchen is the hub of our home and we want to bring a subtle understanding that this is the place of happy gatherings. The finishes and accents we have chosen will provide the aura of the time worn essence we love.
Some of the inspiration comes from the original kitchen at Hotel Particulier. It is not about replicating a room or design, it's about creating the feel and character that has attracted us. 

original kitchen at Hotel Particulier, Arles, France

We've purchased a fireback from France to be inserted above the gas cooktop and a French provincial sideboard that will be re-finished and added as additional cabinets on one wall. Mixing these elements with the new traditional style kitchen cabinets will bring the essence from France that we are looking for.

Fireback                                            via unknown

French pastry shelves - Linda Floyd

We wanted a covered outdoor area to enjoy even during the winter months, so we will be building a lanai just off of the family room area and the master bedroom. There will be a wood burning fireplace finished in over-grouted stone, a vaulted ceiling with sky-lights to allow maximum amount of sunlight into the master bedroom.

The lanai will feature a wood burning fireplace.                   via unknown

The outdoor patio will be finished with cobble stone. There will be two wood tables created from old barn wood that will allow us to have a dining area and serving table, or the option of a large communal table. The rustic European look will be completed with the addition of our folding wood chairs. 

Patio table inspiration.
We purchased 18 of these chairs last year - perfect for our big family gatherings and our rustic patio inspiration.

The basement level of the bungalow with the new build will bring another 1700 sq feet of living space. There will be a guest bedroom and full bath, a large media room {thankfully Richard never utters the words 'man cave'}, a wine room open to the media room, storage and eventually a gym area.

wine room inspiration
The wine room brings the opportunity to introduce some of the elements used in other area's of the house - the over-grouted stone, rich woods, patina finishes, and French accents.

Much like the house and the finishes that will be installed, the garden will evolve with the layers planted. It will be next spring before I get to really play in the garden; for now it has been cutting back, moving plantings and preparing the property. But I am excited about building a new oasis for us.

garden inspiration

garden inspiration
The house will evolve with the layers we add and the garden will grow under the tree's that are the perfect home for the cardinals. This is Cardinal House - this is home.

Monday, August 19, 2013

And Baby makes three

photo's by Michael Middleton - a'ka the proud Grandfather.
I just couldn't resist - and in case you haven't seen the newly released photo's of little Prince George with his adoring parents. I love that the first photo's released were taken by Prince George's Grandfather, Michael Middleton. It speaks volumes about the traditions that William and Catherine plan to inject into their new family life.

William sits with his arms wrapped around Kate and their dog Lupo, while the Middleton family dog lays in behind them rather unimpressed.

Photo by Michael Middleton
What a cute family. They look relaxed and comfortable in the new role as parents and not at all worn out from the demands of a new baby. William shared in a recent interview that he changed the first 'nappy' and had every midwife staring at him - no pressure.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Butler

Eugene Allan serving at the White House during the Ford administration years.

We went to see the movie The Butler last night and give it two 'thumbs up'.

The movie is a semi-true story of the life of Eugene Allan who served as a butler at the White House for 34 years.

Eugene Allen with Nancy and Ronald Reagan

From the cotton field he grew up in and escaped from, to the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 march on Washington, civil rights bills, cities burning, assassinations of Martin Luther King and President Kennedy; Eugene Allen witnessed it all and lived a fascinating life over his 91 years. It is the skeleton of his life story that serves to bring the historical facts of the civil rights movement boldly to the screen and tells the tale through the quiet dignity of Cecil Gaines {played by Forest Whitaker}. The story spans over the Presidential terms of eight leaders from Truman to Reagan where Cecil Gaines is hired to butler at the ultimate house - The White House. His character dutifully remains a mute servant while the civil rights movement rages outside of the Oval Office, Cecil struggles as the patriarch of his own family.

Eugene Allen

During his tenure Cecil is given instructions on being a White House butler; 'You see nothing, you hear nothing, you only serve'. But Cecil is privy to many discussions while he serves the President and various high level administration.Whitaker delivers a dignified portrayal as the butler and it's easy to see why there is already chatter of an Oscar Nomination.

Oprah Winfrey takes on a juicy role as Cecil's wife Gloria Gaines, and obviously enjoys every moment of the portrayal. Gloria is the ferocious mother lion to her two sons - one son who patriotically served in Vietnam and the other son who politically takes on the civil rights fight. In real life the Allen's had only one son who did serve in Vietnam and survived. Gloria struggles with the devotion her husband has to the White House, his absence from home, and the choices her sons make.  Gloria drifts through moments of drunken reaction to realty and her fierce loyalty to family that is never wavering. Word has it that there is a glorious gold statue award nomination in the wings for Winfrey as well.

Clarence William III and Aml Ameen

Lee Daniels once again tells it like it is and the 'N word' is frequently used throughout the dialogue as it would have been during these times. Although casting of Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Aml Ameen, David Oyelowo, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Terrence Howard were brilliant choices,  there are moments that movie goers are left whispering about other portrayals.

Clarence William III portrays Maynard who brings the pivotal moment of change to Cecil's life by offering him the opportunity to butler. We couldn't help but lean over to one another in the theatre and say 'hey, it's Link' {a'la Mod Squad fame}. Don't get me wrong CW-the-third plays the part perfectly, but we paused away from the character for a brief moment to reflect back.

Robin Williams as LB Johnson

Robin Williams as President Eisenhower left me feeling like the film had suddenly switched to a SNL skit. Williams doesn't push the way he normally does, but you can't help but feel he will break out with a witty one-liner at any moment. John Cusack as Nixon.......... was a stretch.

Allan Rickman brings Ronald Reagan convincingly to the screen, while Jane Fonda musters up a bold rendition as Nancy Reagan {Yes!}.

Liev Schreiber as Lyndon Johnson has the opportunity to offer the audience some of the best laughs. One of the more memorable scene's as 'out-there' Johnson when  the butler and staff assist him while he performs his 'duties'.

Possibly one of the sure fire Oscar nominations will be for the make-up artist who transforms Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey from young adults to senior citizens. Under the scrutiny of an enormous theatre screen close-up the transformations are shockingly realistic.

Whitaker as a young Cecil Gaines

Whitaker as a senior Cecil Gaines

It is the voice-over of Whitaker in his role as Cecil Gaines towards the end of the film that strikes a real cord. 
Listen carefully for the message that should never be forgotten.