A new, modern home that now sits on a mature street in Westboro already has quite a history! It replaces a turn-of-the-century home that was boarded up for 20 years, became infested and was then condemned by the City of Ottawa.
After tracking down the owner and convincing him to sell, the couple who bought the property were interested in restoring the old brick home, but were not allowed to because of its dilapidated state. So, they decided to go in a completely different direction and build a contemporary home that recently won a National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) award for its sleek kitchen.
Three years ago, Stephanie Toste and her husband wanted to move from the suburbs to a walkable downtown location that was more similar to the areas where they grew up. His childhood home was in Ottawa’s Little Italy and Stephanie’s was a Victorian townhome in Montreal. Stephanie was also motivated to live closer to her Ottawa business, Dermis Advanced Skin Care.
“We looked and looked to find the right neighbourhood, and once we found it, we put notices in the mailboxes of some houses that faced the sunny side of the street,” says Stephanie, who was targeting houses to buy and renovate. It was important to her to wake up with the morning light at the front of the home, and relax at the end of the day with the sun setting in the backyard.
Through the process of exploring homes in the neighbourhood, the couple discovered Alex Diaz of Art House Developments, a full-service design and build firm. They were impressed with the architect’s beautifully designed urban homes with modern, open-concept layouts that maximize living space. Yet, with over 30 years of home-renovation experience under their belt, they were also well-informed about what they wanted.
“We worked pretty diligently with Alex and changed the interior quite dramatically from the original design,” explains Stephanie who had no need for multiple bedrooms, or additional small rooms. With her husband as the general contractor for the project who supervised the daily construction for eight months, Stephanie got exactly the home she envisioned.
Right from the front door, the home soars upward and outward, with the sightline flowing from one end to the other. The open dining area leads into the kitchen and living room in one large space that is united with a predominantly white décor on grey-stained flooring. The 10-foot ceilings are enhanced with floor-to-ceiling windows at both ends that fill the home with all-day light.
Anchored in the middle of the room is an impressive 15-foot waterfall island encased on two sides and topped with distinctive Cambria quartz in a marble pattern. Stephanie had the home designed around her adored waterfall island which contains a built-in Thermador induction cooktop as she is an avid cook and baker.
The NKBA award-winning, sleek-white kitchen was a design collaboration between Alex, Stephanie and Michel Seguin of Sebo Woodwork, who constructed and installed the cabinetry. Stephanie has worked with Sebo before and praises their terrific craftsmanship noting, “They are very good at what they do.”
Winning first place in the contemporary kitchen category in the upper price range, Michel describes the high-gloss lacquered cabinetry as offering, “Clean, pure lines with its elongated horizontal design.” He adds that the big-panelled, minimalist-looking cabinets and drawers are handle-free and open with a press touch, while the upper cabinets are opened electronically like a garage door.
Stephanie especially likes the “no wasted space” cabinets with tons of smart storage features and specialized drawers, including one for dog food. The built-in Gaggenau wall ovens also open sideways for better access and a back-painted, mirrored-glass wall replaces the traditional backsplash for an even cleaner look.
Throughout the monochromatic main floor, Stephanie infuses the décor with soft lilac accents, modern Canadian artwork and striking metallic elements with a whimsical flair that brings a smile to her face. An intriguing glass dining-room table is set on a metal cast of an acacia tree root, and matches a smaller hallway table.
An outdoor patio is linked to the inside by a wall of windows and sliding doors. The cleverly-designed space is an integral part of the house and has a compact synthetic grass area made from recycled rubber that looks and feels very real. It fits into the low-maintenance lifestyle of a professional couple whose winning ways allow them to relax and enjoy their stunning new home.