We’re giving lots of thought to the house we plan to one day build at our Hideaway. I love the whole process of the design and its execution for a new house. More than twenty years ago, I designed the house we currently live in.
I am not a professional architect. I draw out the way I would like our house to be and then hand those drawings over to a professional. I like to design a home that is simple and cost efficient but more attractive than a basic box. It needs to have interesting style and character.
First a little history. Our current home is on a hobby farm out in the country. There was a bungalow here when we bought the property. After living in it for a few years, we decided that improvements were in order. When we realized that we would eventually want to replace everything one piece at a time, we decided that it would make more sense to start from scratch and build new. The main problem with the old house was the lack of a proper basement. Basements are considered pretty standard in this part of the world. We Canadians like to turn our basements into extra living space. They can be cozy in the winter and cool in the summer. So as we explored options for adding living space to the old house, we learned that it might be easier to have the house lifted off the foundation, build a new basement, and set the house back onto it than it would be to dig out a deeper basement. Well then, we thought: Why not just build a new foundation in another place, move the house there, and start fresh here! So that’s exactly what we did. We bought another lot, brought in the utilities, had a foundation built, and moved the house onto it. We lived in it there for a couple of years, sold it, and then built this new house on our country property.
We chose to build a two story house, partly because the cost per square foot for both building and heating is less than that of a bungalow and partly because it would fit better between the mature trees in the footprint of the old house. It’s rather ironic that on over 12 acres of property, we had issues with “fitting” the house in it’s space! I also thought that a two-story house would be more suitable for exterior siding whereas I would have wanted to brick a bungalow. On a house that is visible on all sides, bricking only the front would not have been an option. Brick is much more expensive than vinyl siding. I feel that the gingerbread trim dresses up the siding.
I designed the house with large windows facing south and with the garage and only a couple of small windows on the north. In our cold climate, those big south-facing windows really heat the house up on a cold, sunny day!
We fully utilized the basement, finishing most of it as living space. To make it seem less “basement like,” we put in large windows. The zero clearance wood burning fireplace from Stu’s Stove Shoppe in the basement family room is our main source of heat. Ductwork from it distributes heat throughout the house. I had it placed in the centre of the house for efficiency and designed the house around it. We have an electric forced air furnace for backup and only use it to keep the house from freezing when we go away in the winter. Charlie covered the fireplace with field stones from our own property.
The hardwood flooring in our house came from my parents’ bush. Charlie and my dad selected and cut the trees. We had them cut into boards, kiln dried, and cut into tongue-and-groove floor boards. Then we installed and finished the floor.
Charlie and I made the night tables and headboard in our bedroom. I bought the duvet cover and shams from Restoration Hardware several years ago. The quilt and euro shams are from Ikea, and the sheets are from Pottery Barn. The lamps are from Homesense.
While this house has served us well, we are excited about our plans for the future!