‘Bigger Isn’t Always Better!’

When the new owners of the Beaver Valley property, Bruce and Kathleen, first contacted me they were planning on adding to the bungalow. We met on site and discussed how their family was going to use the property - for winter weekend skiing and summer vacations. They knew there would always be extra friends along for the fun. Assessing the potential of the interior space (especially with the walk.out lower level), we decided the house didn’t need to be bigger; we just needed to utilize all the space well.

Knowing we could develop the existing square footage for the functional spaces required for entry, living, kitchen, eating, mudroom, laundry, sleeping, bathrooms, TV watching, and play space, we then discussed the issue of aesthetics. The existing 8 foot ceilings at the main floor felt confining and the windows facing the valley didn’t show off the fabulous views. The ‘common’ areas of the house (living, dining and kitchen) are where the views can be appreciated the most. The decision was made to remove the existing hip roof above the middle section of the house, rebuild the exterior walls (front and back) to 11 feet in height, and install a new hip truss roof. The new tall windows and doors at the front and rear filter light through the home and create an open, airy feel. Every season there is a fresh panorama of vistas of the Niagara Escarpment, and a testament to the fact that ‘bigger isn’t always better’!


Thin-Veneer Stone Cladding

Thin-Veneer stone cladding has been a material of choice for many of my residential projects. When a stone façade is required and I’m working with an existing structure where there is no structural ledge or foundation available for full-depth stone, what I call ‘thin-veneer stone’ is my go-to exterior material. Thin-veneer stone is available in natural stone and as a composite material. The thickness varies between 1” to 2” and it is directly applied to the wall surface. Direct application guidelines require installation of a layer called ‘Mortairvent’ under the metal lath which allows any moisture to escape from behind the stone. This newer OBC requirement has greatly improved the performance and lifespan of thin-veneer stone cladding.

With the variety of profiles, colours and textures available, designers can combine thin-veneer stone with stucco, wood, vinyl, or aluminum. Virtually any architectural style - from traditional to contemporary, can utilize this material effectively. Often cost savings can be realized structurally because thin-veneer stone does not need a foundation ledge to support it. Here are some of my favourite suppliers:

Stonerox, Stouffville, ON

Muskoka Rock Company, Gravenhurst, ON

Ledgerock, Owen Sound, ON

Cultured Stone, U.S.A.

The days are getting longer and the sap is running - what a fabulous time of year to be in the bush! In this 13th issue of Seasonal we’re heading to the Beaver Valley for a bungalow renovation. And I’m sharing a favourite stew recipe with maple syrup- perfect for a warm-up after hiking.

LIFE ~ ‘In the Valley’

After spending time looking in the Muskoka area for a cottage, Bruce and Kathleen changed their search area to the northwest - a beautiful part of the Niagara Escarpment and home of the Bruce Trail - the Beaver Valley. They found a bungalow on 46 acres with the Beaver River running through it and stunning views north along the valley. With ski hills 2 minutes away and plans for a pool, their new spot is a year-round getaway for the young family.

Exterior renovations included rebuilding the middle section of roof to accommodate higher ceilings, roofing, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, cladding with stone and wood siding and rebuilding the rear deck. Interior upgrades on both the main floor and lower level walk-out involved reinsulating, upgrading the heating and cooling system, and redoing the floors, bathrooms, kitchen, main stair, mudroom/laundry, sauna and electrical.

1. Architectural Design: Jane Cameron, Life Home Design
2. Interiors: Silvia Phillips, Kani Interiors 905-960-9711
3. Structural Engineer: Steve Boyd, Quaile Engineering
4. Builder: Bill Gostick Construction, mobile 519-477-5678
5. Thin-Veneer Stone: Dry Stack ‘Meaford Mist’ by Stonerox
6. Stone Mason: Citadel Masonry, email
7. Wood Siding: Goodfellow
8. Windows and Exterior Doors: Marvin Windows and Doors supplied by Bavarian Window Works
9. Floors: Fuzion Flooring, Meaford Carpets
10. Kitchen & Vanities: Supplied by Centre Grey Home Hardware, Kitchen Designer Lauren Ripley (519) 986-2641
11. Interior doors and trims: Royal Wood Shop, Aurora
13. Interior Furniture and Mudroom cubbies: Rick Eidenmueller 519-372-6838

Hiker’s Stew

This stew is hearty and great for a make-ahead meal. Serves 12.

4 TBsp. flour
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper 4 lbs. stewing beef, cut in 2” cubes
3 TBsp. butter or other fat
1 can (16 oz.) stewed tomatoes
4 medium onions, sliced
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 c. water
2 c. carrots, cut in 1” diagonal pieces

Mix flour, celery salt, ginger, garlic salt and pepper in a large plastic bag. Place beef in the bag, 1 pound at a time and shake until meat is coated with flour mixture. In a heavy skillet, melt butter and brown the beef. Transfer to a cooking kettle. Add tomatoes, onions, vinegar, maple syrup and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 3 hours. Add carrots in the last half hour of cooking. At the end, I thicken the broth with a bit of corn starch and water, and sprinkle in some chopped parsley for colour. Salt and pepper to your liking.

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