A short drive from downtown, 269 Royal Avenue is the perfect family retreat for urban professionals Allan Alguire and Katie Gauthier. Designed and built by architect John Donkin in 2009, this Westboro Beach property caught the couple’s eye when it went on the market in 2014.
“We had a property on a street nearby and our intention was always to build there. But we completely underestimated the time it would take to build a house with architects, builders, and designers,” says Allan. “When this house went up for sale we saw it was very close to what we would have done ourselves. So, we moved here and just put our stamp on it.”
The contemporary home which spans three floors is built into a sloping landscape, giving each floor a connection with the outdoors.
“What’s unique about this is that it’s about a 3,600 square-foot house on a 50 3 100 lot, but because the house is built into a slope you get access to the outdoors on all levels while keeping the mature trees,” explains Allan. “Usually, to get that many square feet, you’d need to max out the property lines and lose the trees. That’s why we absolutely love this place.”
The couple went to Jonathan Hoffman, a natural stone landscape specialist, to re-envision the front and back yards. Hoffman hand-chiselled the natural limestone elements to create different levels and zones to the space, creating even more exterior living area.
The home connects seamlessly with its surroundings, both through the thematic use of natural materials and the soaring windows drawing the view outside. The generous use of windows, including skylights, invites in the light and avoids any overshadowing by the massive trees. In the distance, the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills tie the urban home to a relaxing vista.
The couple enjoy the design process and did all the renovation planning themselves, leaning toward a blend of mid-century modern and contemporary Scandinavian themes. They updated the home’s finishes, putting in light and naturally-finished maple flooring on the two upper levels. At the ground level, there are heated concrete floors where a new media and playroom open the space for family entertainment.
Allan and Katie say they love working with natural materials and, indeed, nearly every design element was carefully chosen to include wood, stone, or natural-fibre textiles including some fabulous wool felt accessories. The home is furnished with pieces that were custom-ordered through Alteriors and favours works by Italian designers such as Gervasoni, Bonaldo and Society Linens.
The walls, cabinetry, and lighting are all now in the crispest of whites, with the lighting done in 4000K (colour temperature of neutral white) LEDs to brighten this effect even more.
A collection of watercolour paintings provide subtle splashes of colour in the living spaces and add to the tranquility.
For the couple’s toddler, a beautiful bedroom with windows looking out onto the trees makes for a “treehouse” feel. Similarly, the master suite has the vibe of a spa retreat with clean interior lines and a natural vista from expansive windows.
“We’re both very busy, so coming home to the natural materials is so relaxing,” says Katie.
The neighbourhood is a perfect location for Katie who commutes to her law practice downtown, while Allan built a bespoke studio on the home’s main floor for his personal training business, End Result Fitness. “We wanted to create a unique environment that felt more like a home and less like a traditional gym,” says Allan.
To give an opportunity for a first-hand look at this tasteful family residence, Allan and Katie have generously agreed to open their home for this year’s Homes for the Holidays tour, taking place November 16–18.
The Royal Avenue home will be on view as one of eight properties and two popup shops in this year’s tour. The event, now in its 16th year, is one of the Hospice Care Ottawa’s major fundraisers, typically attracting nearly 2,000 visitors, and raising funds to support the Hospice at Maycourt, the Ruddy-Shenkman Hospice in Kanata, and the community program at La Maison de l’Est in Orleans.
“We are tremendously grateful for the people who open their doors for three days, allowing so many others to see and enjoy these lovely homes,” says Susan McIntosh, Manager, Fund Development at Hospice Care Ottawa.
Tickets for Homes for the Holidays are available online at hospicecareottawa.ca, or by calling 613-260-2906 ex. 222. Tickets are also available at the tour homes during the weekend of the event.