Blog Archives

A New England Barn Reinvented

I am a sucker for properties that have been reinvented and combine old with new. I love the idea of respecting history while looking to the future.

The rebuild of this New England barn fits the bill for me. Funny thing is I normally abhor the “barn shape” of houses. There was one house in our old neighbourhood that I ranted about its design almost every time I passed it. However, this barn was taken apart piece by piece and the traditional barn shape is no where to be found.

It was rebuilt leveraging the patina of the beams and rafters, the reclaimed flooring and the uneven plaster walls to create an open space that feels cosy and suits a modern family.

I love the open spaces and the steel beams. I love that the you can see the 300 year old beams of the old farmhouse in every space. This would make a good home for me.

What do you think?

all images via New England Home

Blending the New with the Old

I am a huge fan of modern architecture. I love the simplicity of the clean lines, the use of shape and the mix of construction materials.

This morning I flipped open the Globe & Mail’s Real Estate section and on the front page was a renovated 1890 brick farmhouse in Creemore. The house is a brilliant mix of modern design while respecting and incorporating the original design and vintage of the home.

The old farmhouse has a narrow clapboard siding while the new addition has a wider wood siding – all unified by the colour.

So many new builds or additions create homes on steroids and too few incorporate their environment and pay homage to the age of the original home or lot. I’m not a fan of driving down and country road and being able to see a giant stone and stucco house miles before I arrive at it. It’s too Donald Trump for my liking (note small size of image in relation to what I think of it) …

The architect for the Creemore house featured in the paper today is Christopher Pommer of Plant Architect. His firm was founded on the notion of designing buildings to fit within the context of their surroundings. They aren’t interested in replicating a historical style but rather taking what’s there and bringing a fresh, modern look to it. Building something new while respecting the old.

If you get a minute check out the portfolio for Plant Architect. Tons of projects – some small scale, some complete rebuilds – each one completely unique.

Here are some more photos of the Victorian farmhouse in Creemore … if it ever goes on the market I will line up to bid on it!




Do you like to blend new with old? Or, do you prefer architecture that screams “look at me!”?


images 1, 3 – 5 via here, image 2 via here

Have a seat … in the shower

I am currently working on a bathroom renovation for client’s who live in a wonderful Victorian house. Everything about the house is amazing. Soaring ceilings. Detailed mouldings and tall windows.

The master bath, however, needs some TLC.

We’ve nailed down the design plan and are looking to start construction in mid to late August. There are a couple of details to be finalized but one in particular is still being debated.

It’s the throne … and I’m not talking about THE “throne” but rather the shower throne. Where do you sit down or rest your toes to do whatever you need and want to do in the shower?

I had originally specified a teak fold-down shower bench like this one …

via moi

I chose the fold-down bench instead of a built-in bench for a few reasons.

One was to maximize space in the shower area.

Also, a bench that is built-in can be at a higher risk for water leakage (this shouldn’t be a problem with a good contractor but any time you build a cavity that need tiling and a marble slab on it you run a risk).

The third reason was to help manage the budget. Building a built-in bench or having a custom slab of marble cut requires more labour and material to install.

The fold-up teak bench is economical, cost conscious and just looks damn good.

Here’s a shot of a teak bench in another bathroom …


I’m all for sharing a balanced perspective … so here are a few shots of bathrooms with built-in bench seats …

Or what about this one? You could have a nap in here ….


Here’s another bench seat …


Another option is to have a custom slab made and installed as a bench seat ….


And finally, another option is to extend the adjacent tub deck into the shower area …


If it was your shower, what would you prefer? Fold-up, built-in or custom slab?

Master Bathroom Do-Over?

Looking back on our two-storey addition to our house I can honestly say that I am very happy with all the decisions that we made – from design, to functionality, to construction materials and finishings – it came together more or less as planned. BUT …

I wish we had done things differently in our master bathroom. There I said it … can I call a master bath do-over? It’s not that it’s ugly. It’s not that the layout is poor. It’s just well, plain, perhaps too pinky beige and maybe a bit blah.

If I was to do it over again here are a couple of photos that would inspire me:

This has a calm serene feel (love the wet room idea and the tiles!) …

Or this (it would be like showering outdoors) …

Before I show you pictures of what it actually looks like (which really isn’t all that bad!) let me share with you what I’d do differently next time. Call it the benefit of hindsight …

1. Radiant Heating on floors (mmm … toasty toes in winter – also helpful for stomach flu incidents but I digress)

2. A deeper, more contemporary looking bathtub like this:

3. Add more architectural detail to the walls like this:

4. Tiles with a little less (read: none) pinky beige in them like these …

Floor in client's shower area

Tile sample via Tile Shoppe

I figure in the scale of a renovation that lasted six months where we added a main floor family room, mudroom, powder room, redid the kitchen, new flooring throughout the main floor, added a master bedroom and bathroom, converted a bedroom into a 2nd floor laundry room, updated the kids bathroom and painted the entire house getting one thing sort of okay (the master bath) is not too bad). I’ve am currently working on my third bathroom renovation for clients since starting my business so I have a keener sense of what’s out there in bathrooms!

Here’s a peek at our master bathroom …

The house's original bathtub (c. 1915) that I freshened up with a coat of paint. Set under the window it's like bathing outdoors.

Toilet with towel rack above - it faces the tub which means you can look outside while, um, sitting

Vanity & shower area

Have you renovated or redecorated your home? Is there anything that you’d “call a do-over” given the chance?

Images via here, here, here, here, here and moi.