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Two boxes sit on a private peninsula projecting into a sheltered Atlantic Ocean cove. The west box, clad in black metal and vertical spruce siding, is a 600 square foot volume containing the main living area of the cottage. Upon approaching from the north, views directly through the west box reveal the ocean beyond. Oriented south-east with double height windows on 3 sides, this space is washed in sunlight throughout the day and enjoys panoramic ocean and forest views.
The cedar shingled east box contains the private spaces. Two guest rooms and a bath are sited for lush views into the trees. The main bedroom and ensuite project beyond the west box, closer to the water, to capture the sunrise and absolute privacy.
Designed for connection with nature, no fuss finishes and a limited palette allow the setting to take centre stage. Durable concrete floors throughout the cottage transition outside to a generous terrace, both materials a delight for bare feet.
When the owners purchased this 80 year old home the spaces were cramped and impractical and the basement was a dark and unfriendly rental apartment. Renovations were needed to create a layout suited to a young family and to address a hazardous air quality situation.
Flipping the position of the kitchen to the opposite wall and removing walls at the rear of the house opened the house to the garden and transformed the main level into a well connected family space. The compact area overlooking the back yard, which was formerly the kitchen and laundry, now contains the kitchen, powder room, mudroom and an office nook, yet it feels generous and uncluttered. A palette of simple white cabinets and wood accents is animated with a cheerful cement tile floor. New garden doors provide views into the back yard and wash the interior in sunlight throughout the day.
The basement was reconnected to the house to contain a relaxing lounge area and fitness space as well as relocated laundry and a compact washroom and guest room. The new stair transitions from winders at the top to a lower run of open risers and treads made with laminated maple plywood. The original floor was replaced with a new polished concrete slab with integrated radiant heat.
Standing in a meadow in rural Prince Edward Island, this home was designed and built to the International Passive House standard. The young family enjoys expansive views and abundant natural light while paying 85% less to heat their home than if it was built with conventional details. The 2 storey, 2500 square foot house maintains a comfortable temperature, in all seasons, with only one small electric heater. Deep insulation, triple glazed windows and excellent air-tightness ensure comfort and durability, while a high efficiency ventilation system provides exceptional fresh air. A passive house is the healthiest and most comfortable home that can be built.
Stunning views and a private setting provide the backdrop for this relaxing family home. Exposed to weather extremes in all seasons, the south face of the house was in need of substantial repairs. Renovations included replacing the original wood windows throughout the house, new cedar shingles on the lake side and structural upgrades to address curious 1980s framing. Window openings overlooking the lake were resized to limit obstructions to the view. Second floor balconies were removed and replaced with a deep porch overhang, balancing the proportions of the south elevation and lending shade to the main floor. Built low to the ground, the porch deck requires no railings, giving unobstructed views from all parts of the main floor.
The original cramped kitchen was cut off from the outside by a flimsy porch. Expanding the kitchen into the porch space created a generous and functional kitchen with direct views of the lake. The family can now share meal prep activities together while gathered around the spacious island. The colour palette is a mix of soft whites and cool greys, echoing the colours of the lake and sky. New oak hardwood was blended with the original floors for a seamless finish.
Carving out a corner of an adjacent guest room allowed the main floor laundry and bathroom to be converted into a much needed mudroom. A new side porch provides a direct path into the mudroom and bathroom, keeping sandy feet out of the kitchen. The porch and mudroom are lined with durable painted shiplap, as is the wall at the refurbished oak stair. On the second floor an unused sauna was removed to make space for an ensuite off the master bedroom and a separate children’s bath.
This 1920s craftsman house was transformed with a 2 storey addition at the back and a full house renovation. The design priorities were to create flow and connectivity of space while maximizing daylight to offset the grey days of winter.
The heart of the home is a new kitchen and dining room for the family of five, who enjoy cooking and gathering around meals. A wide bifold door in the dining room connects to a generous deck and orients the interior to the beautiful gardens beyond.
The original kitchen of the home was repurposed as a spacious mudroom, organized with individual nooks for the children and ample storage for coats, boots, bags etc.
The second floor of the addition creates a new master bedroom complete with ensuite and walk in closet.
A small porch added on the north side of the house provides garden and bicycle storage and works to break up the volume of the house.
Nestled at the edge of a clearing at the back of a 7 acre, forested property, this new home was designed to be a simple yet pretty place to enjoy the rural Nova Scotia landscape through the seasons.
The house is clad in cedar shingles, which will weather to grey, and a durable metal roof; materials selected for both beauty and longevity. Interior finishes were chosen for comfort and ease of maintenance, with cork plank flooring installed over a concrete slab on grade and walls and wood trim painted a serene white throughout. Windows on three sides of an open concept living area frame forest and meadow views and bring a continuously shifting play of daylight across the space.
A small wood stove makes the house cozy on chilly mornings and evenings and is supplemented by a mini-split heat pump in winter in this year round home. The wood stove also doubles as a cook stove for occasional power outages, an essential consideration in this secluded location.
A flagstone terrace at the west end of the house provides a sunny spot to quietly observe birds and listen to wind in the trees and to the distant sounds from two brooks which converge on the property. The north side entry doubles as a screen porch for buggy evenings.
builderUp Country Builders
construction completed in 2016
Playful pops of colour from the home owners eclectic collection accent a classic white and wood colour palette in this sunny expansion to a Halifax home. The main portion of the addition forms a bright and functional kitchen that faces south and west. An open layout was designed to provide flex space for the family as their needs change over the years. Salvaged doors, antique coat hooks and other reused elements were incorporated into the interiors of the addition.
While the footprint of the house was enlarged by only 200sf, the white finishes and vaulted ceiling contribute to a sense of spaciousness. Daylight shifts continuously across the new kitchen and dining room spaces. An 8’ sliding door opens from the kitchen onto a side deck that overlooks raised vegetable beds and a grassy play area. The deck is sheltered for privacy and for shade by a high side railing and pergola. On the opposite side of the house, a new back entry integrates a compact powder room and mudroom.
Phase one of this project entailed connecting the kitchen to the back family room and the dining room through demolition of walls. Phase two some years later, entailed installation of new kitchen cabinetry, hardwood floors and establishing a stronger connection to the beautiful backyard, by replacing two small windows with a large corner window and door. The overall results are much brighter rooms with a pleasant view and a kitchen that is now the heart of the house.
The clients described their dream cottage as a “a glass box, nestled in the woods, with clean lines, careful details and a small footprint.”
The property is on the northern ridge of the Annapolis Valley, four kilometres from the Bay of Fundy. The cliff edge and south facing portion of the property, occupied by a dense mix of hardwood trees including Maple, Poplar and Ironwood, was chosen as the ideal location for the house.
A 10’ path had been delicately carved through the vegetation, hugging a gentle slope, leading the perambulator to a setting of dappled light, silvery bark, pungent leaves and spectacular views of the farmland below.
The land informed the design. The area appeared to be exempt from weather patterns. With each site visit, a new condition was presented: extreme fog; 88km winds; knee-high snow; and heavy, humid air. We wanted to harness as much passive solar as the canopy of trees would allow, while creating microclimates to protect the area from aggressive environmental conditions.
The program requirements led us to create a scheme of a public gathering zone, and a private guest area, with a service zone slicing through the two. The service zone took the form of a small tower, pierced by the path from the north to the south. This leads to a second storey for the family and ends at the top in a relaxation room, with distant views of the Minas Basin.
“I feel your commitment to excellence at each step of the way and am grateful."
"It was a pleasure to be at the site with you again; each time we're there the project feels like it’s moving along.”
- Camille L. Hancock Friesen
design completed 2014
This beautiful semi-detached Victorian home was in need of a renovation to accommodate a family of five.
The modern two story addition was designed to clearly distinguish between old and new, while at the same time fitting into the scale of the overall house.
On the main level a new mudroom attached to the kitchen was tucked into the corner of the existing fully re-shingled exterior. The newly laid out kitchen connects openly to the dining room extension and framed views of the backyard.
We decided to work with the sloping site and capitalize on the fact that the dining room floor would end up below grade. A heated concrete bench not only serves as an anchoring point between the backyard views and the interior of the house, but also works as a retaining wall to stop the ground from 'further' pushing in.
A large sliding door opens up to establish the west-facing backyard as a focal point and results in a brightly lit interior.
On the second level, the two back bedrooms were rearranged to make room for a larger main bathroom and a fourth bedroom in the extension.
A variety of authentic materials were used throughout resulting in a timeless interior with a rich palette throughout the house.
This house, a collaboration with houdinidesign architects, is a large two storey timber frame based on the form and layout of the Nova Scotia barn structure. The client was only inhabiting the second floor and the main level was being used as a garage and utility space.
Our goal was to turn the main level of the house into valuable living space, while maintaining a clear spatial order with a strong central axis throughout. The first level now houses the entry, a generous hallway, a master bedroom and closets, a bathroom and utility room.
One of our main goals was to maintain a strong physical and visual connection to the beautiful exterior views. There are glazed garage doors on either end of the structure.
Another goal was to clearly distinguish the primary structural elements in the space form the rest of the walls, by wrapping these in cherry wood.
The result is an award winning space where both the new and existing materials work together to bring a harmonic relationship to nature and feel like an extension of it's natural surroundings.
This project was a recipient of a citation award for the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Architecture.
This project begins with a standard 1970s-era mobile home parked on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. The question: how to make a site specific architecture of this pre-fab; how to transform a leak-prone mobile home into a modern all-season dwelling that embraces the landscape? A tight budget adds to the challenge.
The site is approached from a lane that crosses the Trans-Canada hiking trail. The site descends, revealing a panoramic expanse of ocean. The boardwalks and bridges of the coastal hiking trail that hover above the marshlands of this shore offer an irresistible metaphor to bridge old and new.
The architectural starting point is a reinterpretation of the mobile home’s unique structural system. Two parallel steel beams, set a meter back from the dwelling’s perimeter, support outriggers that carry roof and wall loads back to the beams. The house is anchored to new foundations, yet floats above the ground. A new entry box further establishes a connection to the ground and allows for circulation to an additional living space that responds to the slope of the site.
Sustainable elements of this project include retaining the “chassis” of the mobile home and minimizing the foundation footprint. Solar orientation and large windows guarantee optimal daylight, and respond to the views of the site: the ocean, the sunset and the east forest.
builder Econo Renovations, structural consultant Pat Griggs Engineering
construction completed in 2009
A full house renovation and new addition in Halifax.
The clients requested a remodel that would maintain some of the original cottage-like qualities of the existing house while allowing them to enjoy the functionality of modern living as well as the ability to foster interconnectedness between the spaces and the backyard.
“Working with Judy was immensely enjoyable. She listened to our wants and needs, pushed our boundaries on design where necessary, and professionally saw our addition through to completion, paying meticulous attention to detail. We are thrilled with our new house! “