Building a customized home with super-cool features gave Michael O'Connor everything he wanted. Well almost! While the luxurious 4,500-square- foot space on a one-acre country lot in Nepean is a gleaming model of contemporary design and automated-home technology, it didn't include an indoor ice rink for year-round play.
At least, not yet! That's coming next after the recently finished home theatre - and then the place will be perfect for Michael, Carla and their two children, four-year-old Grayson and Jade, who is eight.
PERSONALIZED BUILDING PLAN
"When I started to look for a home in the Cedarview area, there was nothing for sale under a million dollars, and then they still needed major renovations to suit my tastes," says Michael, who owns a software company in Toronto. Explaining that even some of the newer homes seemed dated to him, Michael wanted an extremely modern and open design with a clean, minimalist style.
After searching for an architect, Michael combined ideas with Tony Segreto from Miroca Design and they came up with a floor plan. "I sat on it for about a year before we put any shovels in the ground and found that the more input you get from other people, the better." He hired a general contractor for the build and although he describes it as a fun experience, it's not one he wants to have again any time soon. So, he plans on staying put for a long while …
The open bungalow design features a commanding entry with black walnut doors and a metallic globe chandelier hanging from the 15-foot ceiling. It leads into a stunning great room with vaulted ceilings, high white walls and glass panels that border the sunken family room. At one end, the space is highlighted by a long, low gas fireplace set in grey stone, and at the other by a sleek white kitchen anchored by a massive island and high-end Thermador appliances.
This huge, light-filled open living area is Michael's favourite space and emphasizes his fondness for uber-modern styling. He particularly likes the folding glass door system that allows a seamless transition to the deck and pool in the country-sized backyard. "It's a great space for getting people together - it can easily fit a group of 60 or more inside."
All three bedrooms have a full ensuite, and the master is magnificent. Although the original plan called for a Jack and Jill bathroom between two bedrooms, Michael decided to give the kids their own and says it was easy to do at little extra cost.
DRAMATIC DESIGN ELEMENTS
A mainly white décor is contrasted by the use of natural stone and glass, together with generous helpings of warm wood. The distinctive grain of black walnut provides a unifying element utilized throughout the home for the customized coffee tables, kitchen-island cabinets, bathroom vanities, bedroom doors, bed frames, shelving and desks.
This cool, dramatic style was envisioned by Rnea Garrah of RAI Design, who was given full creative control of the interior. "I've always wanted to design a white home with natural elements coming inside - marble, exterior stone and lots of exotic wood - but never had a client give me the go-ahead until Michael came along. I am thankful for the trust he put in me to achieve the final outcome and fulfil my vision of the ultimate home."
It took six months of pre-construction planning for Rnea to present her ideas to Michael, who admits he had to find a happy medium with some of the contemporary elements, but is thrilled with the way everything came together. Rnea's influence is particularly evident in the striking chandeliers and pendants on the main floor in modern designs by Moooi, Robert Abbey and Flos, plus the space-like kitchen lighting by Luceplan. She also designed the custom-made kitchen and bath cabinetry by Exotic Wood, which features unique hardware from Germany.
When it comes to the supreme man-cave and the three-car garage, which is finished in panels of light architectural block to offset the home's natural grey stone exterior - it's all back to Michael. He proudly describes how the polished concrete in the basement has under-floor heating from the boiler system that extends to the garage. Having the same substantial footprint as above, the 10-foot-high basement level easily accommodates an extensive gym, lavish home theatre and the soon-to-be ice rink. Michael expects it will be a very popular feature!