Taking a home from ‘Tired to Terrific’ is fun and inspiring! Many homes built post WWII in southern Ontario can be labelled as nondescript, uninspiring and bland. It’s difficult to attribute a style to them. When homeowners like Peter and Michele contact me with the desire to upgrade and add to their home, that’s when the fun begins! It’s like breathing new life into a home. I think, and many of my clients agree, that an addition should look like it has always been there. We don’t like the new construction to scream “Look at me!” This transition is achieved many ways. By working with the shapes and forms already present in a home, proportions can be maintained. Replicating roof slopes and roof overhangs ensures an addition does not ‘overpower’ the existing. Simple porch extensions help to break up flat 2 storey facades and create an element of shade and shadow. Selecting exterior materials and colours that complement and blend with those already present helps to unify the appearance and also update the look. For homes that fall into that ‘nondescript’ category, drawing on architectural elements from other styles helps to infuse character.


Sorting through the options of exterior materials can be a daunting task. For over 15 years I would say that Prefinished Wood Siding has been my choice for many homes. The decision is based on many variables including the character of the neighbourhood, environmental surroundings, architectural style, homeowner preference and budgets. When we travel in Ontario, (and Ontario does have a young history!) some of the oldest structures we see are barns. Many of them, built in the 1800’s, are still standing the test of time. With a good roof, the barn boards are weathered but intact. When they get wet, they dry out because they are exposed to air from both sides. This age old technology has been adapted to the current installation method of prefinished wood siding. First of all, the material is kiln-dried and stained or painted on both sides in a factory setting. Secondly, it is installed on strapping which allows the material to dry from both sides. The manufacturer’s warranties are dependent on the installation meeting this criteria. In retrofit applications, expanding the depth of the strapping allows for an added layer of insulation. Prefinished wood siding is available in so many different profiles, styles and colours it really is a dream material!

Here are some links to Prefinished Wood Siding manufacturers:

Summer is here! Fabulous! Quoting my favourite song from the 70’s!! (yes… I am dating myself…but it sure was fun!)
“Sunny days!
Oh, sunny, sunny, sunny days!
Ain’t nothin’ better in the world, you know
Than lyin’ in the sun with your radio”
Sunny Days by Lighthouse, 1972.

LIFE ~ ‘From Tired to Terrific’

The thrill of my job is seeing a completed project. New builds are exciting in their own way, but there is a part of me that loves the challenge of updating an older home. There is an amazing sense of satisfaction taking a structure from ‘Tired to Terrific’! Peter and Michele’s home in Mississauga was like many built in the 1960’s. These homes were generally well-built and solid, but under-insulated according to today’s standards. There were usually separate rooms for the kitchen, dining and living areas. Peter and Michele were ready to update & add to their home; they were ready for a change. A carefully proportioned main floor addition, relocation of rooms and removal of interior walls opened up the principal living areas. A new covered porch at the rear provides shade from ‘Sunny Days’.

Builder: Courtland Homes, Dan Mlinaric, Phone: 647-248-8422
Kitchen: Pearl Kitchens, Basil Behnan, P: 647-723-5129 ext 100
Windows: Pella Windows
Dining Room Table: The Rusty Star, Maxwell, ON, P: 519-922-2010

Strawberry Shortcake

This recipe is from my late mother-in-law’s favourite cookbook “Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking”, published in 1947. There is always a mad last minute dash, assembling the dessert so the warm shortcake melds with the cool fresh whipped cream and sweet field strawberries.

This shortcake makes enough for 6-8 servings depending on the size. Besides the shortcake, you’ll need about 2 quarts of fresh picked strawberries, 1 cup of whipping cream and some ice vanilla cream. Enjoy!

The Shortcake:
2 c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 to 1/2 c. shortening
3/4 c. milk
2 to 3 TB melted butter
1 TB sugar
Sift the flour, baking powder & salt. Cut in shortening with 2 knives or pastry cutter until the particles are the size of rice grains. Add milk all at once & mix lightly and quickly with a fork. Turn into a well-greased 8” cake pan and pat to uniform thickness. Brush with the butter & sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a hot oven (450 degrees) for 15-18 minutes until a rich crusty brown.

While your shortcake is baking:
Wash and top the strawberries (leave 6-8 with the green tops on for garnish). Take half of them and mash with a fork (I usually do this on a plate) so it’s like a slurry and put in a bowl. Take the other half and slice them into a separate bowl. Depending on the sweetness of the berries you may need a sprinkle of sugar on them. In another bowl whip the whipping cream until peaks form (I usually add a pinch of sugar too while whipping).

To assemble:
Cut the warm shortcake into 6-8 pie shaped pieces, putting one on each dessert plate. Slice horizontally and separate. On the bottom half of the shortcake, put a dollop of ice cream, then a generous spoonful of mashed strawberries. Place the other half of the shortcake on top, add a generous dollop of whipped cream, then the sliced strawberries. Garnish with a whole strawberry.

Believe me, this is one of those “Wow… tastes like summer!” experiences!

Copyright © 2014 Life Home Design, All rights reserved. Our mailing address is: 5087 4th Line, Tottenham, ON L0G 1W0
905-939-8025 - -