Flowers not included... unless you look out your window. Happy Spring!
April showers bring... our spring newsletter! (and flowers eventually). We unveil a brand new build in St. Marys inspired by Craftsman style. As well as a condo with a view of the Avon River in Stratford.
Flowers not included... unless you look out your window. Happy Spring!
We love cottages. The Ontario Cottage became popular in the 1820s and remained popular until the end of the century. Perfect, symmetrical, one and a half storey, rectangular buildings with tons of charm. Stratford has a large collection of these homes and Guelph has a row of them as a well-known city landmark.
The Guelph Arts Council offers a self-guided historical walking tour which will lead you to some of Guelph's best heritage homes. Our favourites amongst them were three stone cottages in a row at 340, 344, and 348 Woolwich Street. Each of the cottages feature square picked limestone with quoin corners, a hip roof as well as 6-over-6 wood sash windows.
The earliest cottage, #344, was built in 1866. Once associated with the McTague family, original pioneers of the area, it is now used as an insurance office. Built in 1875, the limestone cottage at #340 was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2011, protecting the exterior elements of the home.
We are in the process of designing an addition to enlarge an Ontario Cottage in Stratford. We hope to maintain the unpretentious integrity of this traditional home and add to its inherent charm.
What do you love about Ontario Cottages?
One of our favourite things to work on is porches. I think we all like porches, and most of us have fond memories of sitting on a porch on a warm summer evening, enjoying a cool drink and chatting. Porches are the face of most older homes, and should be an aspiration for all new homes – a porch just makes a house! This particular porch was looking a bit tired – the columns, railings and floor had all served this house well but were tired and in need of replacement:
We have done a lot of research and experimentation to find materials that will last and look appropriate on older homes. The challenge is that good old wood has its shortcomings, mainly that we have used up a good chunk of the old growth species that used to be fine outside in the elements. Coupled with the fact that I am not convinced that modern paints last as long as the old oil and lead based paints of the past, and its not surprising that exterior woodwork just does not seem to last as long as it once did.
This porch presented an opportunity to come up with a sleeker look, one that better fits the style of the home. Columns with proper entasis in a marble/fiberglass mix were used for longevity. The railing spindles were constructed from synthetic wood/epoxy mix that weathers very well, and the top and bottom rails are of Accoya -an acetylated wood that promises to resist rot far better than natural wood while still be paintable. The floor is TREX which allows for no painting, so no peeling paint; a common problem with painted tongue and groove wood floors.
A very traditionally styled porch made of long lasting, durable materials. Many summers of enjoyment await.
Hot off the press, to melt that February snow blast today! Build faced the seemingly insurmountable challenge of a neoclassical portico restoration! And won! Build took an everyday country kitchen and made it modern, efficient and fabulous. Build brought back craftsman, with an interpretation of a modern arts and crafts newly built home!
Keep watching our blog for more photos and in-depth descriptions of some of our favourite newsletter posts.
Take a gander, ignite your imagination, and call us when you are ready for us to love your house!
There is a distinct lack of sense in most new home developments, and it seems to be getting worse. The plethora of poorly thought and poorly wrought detailing sometimes reaches the absurd. I realize that price is king to the tract builder, but if just a wee bit more thought (and yes dollars) went into these houses, well they would just be more pleasing.
The ancient greeks and egyptians figured out that columns should taper slightly to be more appealing to the eye. Today we have huge "L" shaped "columns" that are arrow straight and covered in yards of stucco. Roll in the six panel front door with its plain rectangular transom on the ground level; but arch top windows on the second floor. Throw in the little bit of stone below and all too similar color brick above and the result is the standard mix of nothing working together. Our eye knows something isn't quite right.
Imagine this house with the following: columns that taper less, the gable over the garage removed, and additional railings on the porch. Substitute a nice brick for the fake stone, use one wide garage door. Better? Sure it is, and it's really not that difficult.
Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a unique heritage community which covers the history of four centuries and generations of immigrants transforming into American citizens. The majority of the buildings sit on their original sites but some have been moved here to be saved from demolition. In some cases a single building may show restorations from different centuries for comparison. It is fascinating to walk into an 18th century home with a garden of the time period and then visit a World War II era grocery store on the same block. The museum's archaeology department has an interesting blog discussing current events and finds from the ongoing digs in the area.
A trip to New England would not be complete without a visit to Boston, MA. A small city rich in history, the downtown is a contrast of beautiful historic buildings and contemporary structures. Many of its most interesting buildings were also at the centre of the American Revolution, such as Paul Revere house, The Old State House and Faneuil Hall which now houses a great marketplace. The most impressive building to us was The Boston Public Library McKim Building with its classic elegance beautifully restored. Every inch is a spectacle, John Singer Sargent paintings; bronze doors; walls, floors and vaulted ceilings of marble; murals by Edwin Austin Abbey and twin marble lions on pedestals.
Finally, an American holiday for house geeks can not be complete without a Frank Lloyd Wright house in the mix. We found this example of Wright's usonian house design, The Zimmerman House in Manchester, NH. Being the consummate control freak, Wright designed the house, the interiors, all of the furniture and the gardens. The house is owned by the Currier Museum of Art and still houses the Zimmermans' personal collection of modern art, pottery and sculpture.
The crisp and colourful delights of October remind me of our driving tour of New England two autumns ago. We are house geeks and our holidays generally consist of viewing architecture, taking home tours, visiting art galleries and enjoying local foods. This visit to the eastern seaboard was no exception.
Providence, RI is the home of one of the country's best design schools, The Rhode Island School of Design, so it was a must to visit. The RISD Museum of art is high on my list of best design museums in the world. Their collection covers from decorative art to contemporary art to textiles. Serendipitously, we arrived during the annual RISD alumni fall art sale and purchased a lovely vase from this lovely guy (which included ten days of fretting about its safe return home).
In Newport, RI, we took a day to tour the infamous Newport Mansions. The most well-known, The Breakers, was a summer cottage of the Vanderbilts at the turn of the century. The 70 room, Italian Renaissance-style palazzo is a National Historic Landmark. The decoration of the rooms is grandiose and extravagant but the highlight is the children's playhouse on the grounds.
Our favourite of the mansions, is a humble, shingle-style residence, The Isaac Bell House. Designed by New York architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White, it was an early example of the influence of arts and crafts design in America and the mesh of European and Japanese influence. As a work in progress, it was fascinating to witness the detective work which went into the reconstruction of the interior.
And, we are also diner geeks. Our search for a decent breakfast at a reasonable price in downtown Newport brought us to Gary's Handy Lunch, where 70 years plus, Gary, still makes fresh oatmeal every day.
Stay tuned for part two: New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
It pains me to see exterior woodwork repairs done improperly. Exposed bare pine left for weeks in the elements with no protection. All exterior woodwork must be primed and first coated to have any chance of standing up to the weather in the long term, and ideally separated from concrete and soil by an air gap. If you can use one of the synthetic substitutes even better, but good old wood can do the job if it's given a fighting chance.
This repair was carried out by the "no name on our truck" gang - perhaps they are clever enough to have formulated a business plan around doing work that will have to be replaced in a few years?
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris' philosophy should guide your life and sanity. For most, the race is to fill one's home with stuff to make it feel homey. Foreign goods made of inelegant materials that have little personal meaning or value but fill the space are pushed at us from every decor magazine or mindless HGTV interior decorating program. Just a reminder, the origins of media revolve around making sales, so the design specialists who are pushing the trend of the moment are really just selling you more stuff that you don't need.
Better to live with an interior which reflects the vintage of your home and acquiring possessions which are accumulated over time with love and sensitivity. If you really need something to brighten up your home, a colourful bunch of flowers will do the trick in the meantime.
Another way to reflect your personality in your home is original artwork. Leave the Homesense and IKEA mass produced knick knacks and prints behind (although both of these stores are valuable for storage solutions to house all the stuff) and take advantage of the plethora of local artists and their wares.
Take a day trip to one of the many art and craft shows which fill our Ontario summer weekends. The Toronto Outdoor Art exhibition takes place at Nathan Phillips Square on the July 4th weekend. It attracts some of the best painters, potters, glassmakers, jewellers and other artisans in the area. Other favourite shows are Artfest at the Distillery, Guelph Art on the Street and our own Stratford Art in the Park. These only touch on the many options available to add art to your home. Spend a short time on the internet and you will discover galleries, open studio tours, online shops like Etsy, and artist's guilds. Challenge yourself to thoughtfully decorate and resist the urge to fill your home with objects of the moment and you will be richer in so many ways.
Build's Spring 2014 newsletter is hot off the inter-press! Catch up on what we have been doing and what will be coming up next.
am a licensed carpenter,