A personal house tour (part 1)

Posted on Thu, 23 Aug 2012 by KiM

It’s not often I get to share a house tour here on DTI that I actually got to tour personally. There is a beautiful and highly sought-after neighbourhood here in Ottawa called the Glebe, and each year for the past 12 years there has been a Glebe House Tour featuring several stunning homes in this area. I was contacted by the Chair of the tour committee, Suzanne (a devoted DTI reader), and she offered to take me on a personal tour of some of these homes. (The tour is Sunday, September 16th – details here).I got to visit one this past weekend and I cannot begin to tell you how cool this tour was. It was the home I’ve been dreaming about building for the past couple of years, and I am so excited to share it with you all. To begin, here’s a bit of general info on the home: The homeowners transformed an energy-guzzling 1920s house into a “deep green” beauty. As a green building consultant, homeowner Scott used his expertise and knowledge of the One Planet Living movement as a guide. Scott and his wife Jenny gutted the home and used local, sustainable and reclaimed materials wherever possible. Some of the materials were then used for sliding doors, decorative acoustic panelling, floor finishes and main elements of the staircase. Heating demand has been slashed using solar passive design and super-insulated walls and windows. The new solar thermal system is used for hot water and space heating, while the photovoltaic (PV) system generates electricity. Jenny kindly took my husband and I through every room of their 1800 sq ft home and provided us with lots of great info which I’ll include along with the photos I took when I wasn’t busy drooling all over their gorgeous floors.

A before photo:

In this post I’ll show you the exterior and the first floor. The rest will come later today.

To start, here’s the exterior with brick walls maintained from the old house. Slight transformation. 😉

 Love the large stone slabs as the step up to the porch.

Adorable shed with a live roof in the backyard (a work in progress). This neighbourhood is very old – so the trees creating a canopy back here are massive.

The basement is simply for storage and houses 2 massive tanks, one being a 10,000 gallon rain water reservoir so no photos of that. The first floor consists of Scott’s office, a full bathroom, laundry/mud room and a media/hang out room for their 2 kids.

I adore this wall in Scott’s office made of wood salvaged from the old house (which is also used for all the sliding doors throughout the house).

This is the barn-style door to Scott’s office, and I LOVE the round inset handle. I need both those handles and doors in my next house.

Most of the first floor and the dining room are radiant heated concrete floors with texture that makes them subtly stand out.

In this photo you’ll see what is a combined washer/dryer unit that apparently uses a TON less electricity than conventional washer/dryers and does not require venting to the outdoors. Sounds perfect – except clothes don’t come out completely dry. Bummer.

This is the first room that we got to see the wood floors that make up the majority of the flooring in the home. TO DIE FOR. Seriously my dream floors. The wood comes from a Menonite farmer, whose name I’d give up a couple of cats for.

HELLO more gorgeous sliding barn doors!

Such a great idea to have those tiny lights lighting up the stairs (they are apparently only 1 watt bulbs).

Stay tuned later for the rest of my dream home. 🙂

TS says:

I can understand that some old homes are hard to salvage but the old facade really should have been kept or updated in keeping with the original style. I personally live in a neighborhood with colonial houses and cringe whenever I see this kind of contemporary facade popping out of nowhere; it just doesn't respect the architecture of the neighborhood.

Louise says:

I don't understand that they changed the exterior this way… I recently bought a semi-detached built in the 20's in old Aylmer because it is an old house and I like the look. I was shocked to see how they changed it. Aylmer doesn't allow changing the exterior this way if it's considered an heritage house, they're really keen on protecting these old houses. The house was renovated in the last few years to make it more energy efficient, better insulated and with new windows. So it's been improved but kept its character, the original wooden floors and moldings.

Keith says:

You can do whatever to a home but it remains obvious that it is in Ottawa. Count the out of place objects used to decorate. Advice. When you spend that kind of money, pay attention to the final touches and stay away from the Home Depot

KiM says:

Keith, cut them some slack. They haven't even been in the house a year. I presume the majority of their funds went into the structure and there wasn't much left for the decor and finishes. Sometimes that has to come later.

WyGal says:

Kim I hope you keep a pitched roof at least! I totally understand the need for a total renovation on some houses but this one does not conform well to the neighborhood and it will probably be hard to resell! If only they would have kept the roof angles and just had brick and wood on the front I think it would look MUCH better!

KiM says:

I should do a flat roof – then I'll conform to the 25 houses that have been built around me in the past year. 🙂 I have heard nothing but bad things about flat roofs (in this climate) so we've been pretty adamant that the roof on our new house will slope in some way. Plus, I like the detail of an angled roof better than flat.

JLD says:

I can confirm Kim's statement that some old houses are just not worthy of salvaging. This poor old house had been converted into apartments several years ago, was very dark inside, and had none of the original architectural elements. The shed-like addition on the back was full of mold and nearly collapsing, the roof was leaking, the attic space was drenched in pet urine, the porch was falling off, the basement was a leaky dungeon with dead animals in it (including a cat – sorry Kim), and the floors had been wrecked with several layers of tile, vinyl, etc. I could go on. The only pieces of the original house that could be saved were the exterior brick walls and the foundation. However, as Kim mentioned, much of the wood from the interior walls has been re-used within the new house and shed. As for the comments about the house not being in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood… It is in a very urban location and there are a variety of ages and architectural styles around. Most of the houses on the street actually have flat roofs and have facades that have been updated (for good or for bad) from what they would have looked like when built. And as for the interior finishes… It is a work in progress but I am please to report that most are antiques and bits of collected junk from over the years… and that none were purchased at the Home Depot! 🙂

suzanne says:

the world needs more homes like this one. reading the negative comments about this home renovation reminded me of an article i read in the new york times in which a renovation of a lovely home in new york was gratuitously criticized by posters to blogs. the jist of the article was amazement that people feel free to be so rude about somebody else's labour of love. see the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/nyregion/listing-of-models-brooklyn-home-ignites-blog-readers.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

freddie says:

I LOVE this house! I LOVE the facade and I think the house compliments an evolving neighbourhood, ( Canadian spelling). In Vancouver this house would fit right in! LOVE it!

tina says:

Dryers versus line drying- I'd like to state for the record that owning and using a dryer is not a charector defect or an american phenomenom. Part of the reason that most people I know have dryers is convinence. My mother lined dryed a lot in the summer when I was growing up, but she was a teacher so had the summer off. ( She doesnt so much anymore, but they have their own windturbin, so tecnically the drying process is still wind powered. :D) It simply takes more time to line dry. As some one who works full time, my time is at a premium- Right now, I toss a load in the dryer, and it does its thing, if I were to line dry I'd have to haul the laundry outside, hang it up, and then remember to go take it down. That would pretty much halt week day laundry for me. Also another thing you have to remember is that line drying is a real problem for people with severe allergies.

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