Inspiration & Style - ‘Open Concept Living’

The most common trend when designing layouts for new custom homes or additions is open concept living. It is a trend that is here to stay.

Families today require homes with rooms that can accommodate a variety of activities like cooking, doing homework, dining, reading, visiting, or using the computer. Even entertaining today is more likely to involve an informal gathering in the kitchen as the food is being prepared.

Open concept living has its challenges though. If not planned properly, the spaces can be noisy and void of atmosphere. We feel comfortable in spaces that have proportions suited to the functions taking place. I remember a glorious evening spent in a relative’s stone cottage in England. The wood fire was blazing as we lounged on a cosy U-shaped couch, our feet resting on the oversized coffee table. The low, wood-beam ceiling gave me a sense of belonging and intimacy and an assurance that “all was right with the world.”

Proper proportions and defined spaces will ensure the livability of an open area. Design features that consider ceiling height, floor materials, dropped beams, lighting and partial walls can all help create an intimate, functional and creative space.

These concepts are explained well by American architect and author, Sarah Susanka, in her series of books called “The Not So Big House”. To learn more go to

Keeping Warm – Insulation Overview

One question I frequently get asked is, “What’s the best way to insulate my home?” With new insulating products being developed and the Ontario Building Code’s upgraded requirements for home insulation, many of the standard ways of constructing and insulating our homes do not meet the current requirements. The new OBC standards specify the insulation requirements for new homes and additions and from what I hear, these requirements will, over time, continue to increase. So whether building new or renovating, many homeowners are considering upgrading the insulation to reduce energy costs and increase interior comfort levels. Upgrading insulation is an investment - ask any real estate agent. Well insulated homes are highly valued by new home buyers.

There are numerous products on the market and it can be difficult to determine which ones are best. Consistently designers and builders are choosing Closed Cell Spray Foam for its superior insulating performance and versatility of application. Closed Cell Spray Foam provides an R-value per inch of 6.0, greater than Open Cell Spray Foam, fiberglass batts, mineral batts or loose cellulose. This means that whether you are retrofitting a space or building new, greater insulation values can be achieved within the walls, ceilings or floors. During the installation process, Closed Cell Spray Foam expands into cracks and fills voids creating a superior thermal barrier in the building envelope.

Closed Cell Spray Foam creates a barrier to stop moisture transmission. Many municipalities are waving the requirement for an additional poly vapour barrier to be installed prior to finish drywall. This can be a cost savings. Always check with your local Building Department ahead of time to make sure. Spray Foam is also inorganic, which prevents mould growth.

Spray Foam must be installed by a specialized installer. We have used GNI (Great Northern Insulation) exclusively over the past 4 years. They use BASF Walltite Spray Foam

Welcome to Issue Number 3 of Life Home Design’s “Seasonal”. I’m delighted that so many of you are enjoying the newsletter and using it for sourcing materials and being inspired! As the nights get cooler and the leaves start their annual change to red and orange, I have to say that autumn is my favorite season. The harvest, pumpkins and crunch of leaves on forest walks are all fabulous.

Please pass on the “Seasonal” to friends and family and visit my website at

LIFE ~ ‘Opened Up!’

There are unique challenges in planning additions to historic homes. Apart from the problems associated with stone foundations, balloon framing, pole roof rafters, and the lack of insulation, historic homes often have poor room layouts. Craig and Claire Marie found such a home on a lovely tree-lined street in Beeton, Ontario. The principle rooms were small and the layout did not allow for a good view of the spacious yard. They knew that with careful planning, an addition to the existing home could give them added space for their young family as well as better views.

Squash & Apple Soup

There are just too many fabulous foods in the fall – but one I enjoy the most is squash. I’ve experimented with lots of Squash Soup recipes and have settled on possibly the simplest of them all. Baking the squash enhances the full, sweet flavour and it’s a lot easier than peeling it raw. Cut the squash in half, spoon out the seeds. Lightly oil the inner surfaces of the halved squash and place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes (depending on the type of squash). When baked, just scoop out the inner flesh.

What varieties of squash make the best soup? Butternut and Buttercup - hands down!

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups baked squash (baking instructions above)
1/2 cup applesauce (homemade is the best!)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Put butter and onion into pot and sauté until the onions are soft and clear.
Add the remaining ingredients. Run through the blender and return to the pot. Heat through and enjoy!

What’s New

Life Home Design is currently working with Aspden Construction on some new In-fill Housing projects in Aurora.

To see the listings for these Homes For Sale, go to

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