stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
Unconventional ideas on a minimal budget
space
Modern home in Port Hope, Ont., built to be compact and fuss-free
space
By MATTHEW HAGUE
Special to The Globe and Mail
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Friday, April 19, 2019 – Page H6

The irony of minimal design is that it often requires a maximal budget. Or, to bastardize a Dolly Parton quote: it costs a lot of money to look so spare. That's because without traditional frills such as moldings and baseboards, the junctures of the various surfaces - floors and walls, walls and ceilings - are left exposed. And to adjoin the different, unadorned materials in an elegant, not messy way (rough plaster edges don't look nice), it takes a lot of care and therefore money.

A new house, completed last year in the quaint Victorian town of Port Hope, Ont., is therefore an achievement. The outside has a crisp, crystalline form. The same minimalism carries through the 1,550-square-foot, single-storey interior. The bright white plaster walls gently kiss the burnished concrete floor; clean-lined strips of LEDs are surgically incised (free of visible hardware or casings) into the simple, though dramatically pitched ceiling. But the overall construction budget was $300,000, or $200 a square foot, which is modest by any standard - let alone for a custom, groundup build with such a specific aesthetic.

According to homeowners Andrew and Janice Gregg, both retired teachers, a key reason they were able to pull off the project economically and effectively was because the building team - architect Simon Routh, who was raised in Port Hope, but now lives in Toronto, and local contractor Rick Lovekin - were long-time friends.

"We've known them for more than 30 years each," Mr. Gregg says. "We've known Simon since he was a bump in his mom's belly. Rick did contracting work at my school. So, because we were so familiar with each other, there was no awkwardness. It was possible for us to be really honest about what we wanted and how to get there."

Having such a deep sense of trust between client, designer and contractor is critical, according to Mr. Routh. "Especially when you have unconventional ideas," he says. And with this house, the "unconventional ideas" didn't stop at minimal on a dime. The Greggs also asked for an environmentally friendly heating and cooling system. They wanted to forego mechanical air conditioning and a traditional, forced-air furnace. Instead, the idea was to rely solely on energyefficient radiant floor heating in the winter and natural ventilation in the summer.

The solution was a collaboration. Mr. Lovekin came up with the idea to build the walls with insulated concrete forms - lowcost, modular building panels that quickly snap together and combine a high-degree of insulation and a poured concrete structure in one. "The walls have a great R [insulation] value," says Mr. Routh, who laid out the plan with large windows at either end of the house to encourage natural ventilation.

"With the cross breeze, we don't need an [air-conditioning system]," Mr. Gregg says. "And the lack of blowing fans gives the place a beautiful calmness and quietude."

To keep the overall costs contained, the team was judicious with where to save and where to splurge. "For the design, it was a question of looking at the budget, looking at the brief and figuring out the things the things that were essential to making the house special," Mr. Routh says.

"The kitchen has standard IKEA cabinetry with melamine counters and plywood gables. But having $60,000 Bulthaup cabinets wouldn't have changed the project in any way. The stuff that makes the space interesting - the scissor-trusses in the gable roof, the big-ish glazing, some of the plaster details - mattered more.

For everything else, we tried to come up with something subtle."

Even some of the typically more expensive-looking details turned out to be cost effective.

The inset LEDs in the ceiling are made from "repurposed drywall trim with off-the-shelf LED tape," Mr. Routh says. "They ended up being about $20 a linear foot, which, compared to installing four or five pot lights, is still an economical way to do it."

But all the economizing would have been pointless if the home, which replaced a dilapidated, smaller structure on the site, didn't also provide the pleasant living experience that it does.

Overall it feels airy and refined, almost like a contemporary art gallery or a really pretty library (prior to starting his own firm, Mr. Routh worked for RDH Architects, a firm noted for its innovative library projects). Which is fitting because, as teachers, Mrs.

Gregg was a librarian and Mr.

Gregg taught art.

In fact, Mr. Gregg is still a working artist, the importance of which is clear in the program of the house. A compact kitchen and living space anchors one end, whereas there is a large studio space on the other. A sense of separation between the relaxing and working zones is created by the placement of the master suite, guest bedroom and bathroom in-between. (Mr. Gregg's compositions add colour to the walls throughout.)

Not that the home is solely set up for art making. Mrs. Gregg doesn't paint, but still gets a lot of enjoyment out of the home's dichotomy. The studio faces east and overlooks Port Hope's Ganaraska River, whereas the living room faces west to a forested ravine. "I like to take my morning coffee in the studio room and see the sun rise," she says. "In the evening, it's lovely to have a glass of wine in the kitchen and watch the sun set. Each end has massive windows, light and nature. It's so nice to have both experiences."

The reason the Greggs' wanted to build fuss-free, compact house (moving from the larger place where they raised their kids) is because they spend part of the year in Melbourne, Australia. It's where Mr. Gregg comes from originally, before emigrating to Canada. But as proof of the success of their new abode, Mr Gregg admits: "Melbourne is a great city.

And we love to live in such a great city," he says. "But we aren't there, we miss the Port Hope place. It's so warm and full of light. We love the perch on the river."

Associated Graphic

This 1,550-square-foot, single-storey house in Port Hope, Ont., was built for a pair of retired teachers.

PHOTOS BY JEREMIE WARSHAFSKY


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Marcus_Gee Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page