With the arrival of their sixth child, Lori and Meredith Egan got serious about moving to a bigger house. They eventually found a two-acre lot in rural Kanata and built an imposing 5,000-square-foot, three-storey home, complete with five bedrooms and a self-contained apartment for the grandparents.
The combined family of 10 moved into their new country home 13 years ago and the tired mom admits it was all a bit of a blur back then. "The first time my husband brought me out here, I had no idea where I was," says Lori, who grew up in the east end of Ottawa and had lived in the Civic Hospital area for years.
While the house was under construction by local builder Jim McGill, the family rented a cottage in Constance Bay. The move finally happened nearly six months later when the youngest Egan had just turned two and the eldest was 15 or 16, recalls Lori as she counts back the years. With charming candour, Lori states that they had no clue at the time about home design and planning. "The only thing we told our builder was that I wanted a separate living and dining room. I love a formal dining room, even if we only use it for special occasions."
In hindsight, the only major change that Lori would make is to double the kitchen space, especially considering the size of the house and her family. But she says it functions very well and updated features include a new backsplash and black granite countertops. The kitchen flows into an open family room with a stone fireplace and large windows to bring in the forest-like setting. French doors lead to a huge screened-in porch that transitions easily into the country-sized backyard and pool area, where the kids have played happily for most of their lives.
Antique pieces of furniture mix in with contemporary elements to accent the warm atmosphere and natural environment. "I like it when people tell me that my house feels like a real family home," says Lori, "because that's what it is! And the view outside is always beautiful, whether it's summer or winter."
ALL DRESSED UP FOR THE HOLIDAYS
In winter, the big stone home is just as welcoming. And this holiday season, the decorating will be particularly stunning as it undergoes the professional magic performed for houses on the Homes for the Holidays tour.
Shannon Gorman, the owner of Pretty Pots Flower Shop in Stittsville, is the designated florist and this will be her first involvement with the popular tour. As a preview for this issue of Ottawa at Home, she is decorating a few areas of the home to give a sense of what to expect.
"In the living room, I'm working with the image of a white orchid picture above the mantle to decorate with groups of orchid planters around the fireplace. I want to keep the overall look of the home as natural as possible, with branches and bark pieces, but add some glitter as well."
Outside, Shannon plans to adorn the wide stone steps with country-style holiday planters and traditional treatments. But inside, she is taking an experimental approach to decorating the Egans' treasured Christmas tree. The wow factor of a fresh 14-foot tree that soars up through the curving stairwell will be pumped up in an exciting new way.
"I'm going to bring some vines and branches out of the tree and loop them for a three-dimensional effect," explains Shannon, who adds fittingly that she is going out on a bit of limb on the tree decoration. It will certainly be an inspirational idea for this year's tour visitors!