My house plans are custom designed for each site that we are building on in order to take advantage of the sun’s heat and light the houses need to be oriented to the south. When Don and I are looking for a lot to build a spec or a custom home on, we are looking for a lot where I can orient the house’s living spaces to the south, to take advantage of all that free energy!
Ideally, a house site has a good view and privacy to the south. Abutting a provincially owned woodland is a very nice bonus but these building lots are getting hard to find.
I often design a house’s living space with large glass doors and windows facing the south, to let in as much light and sun heat as I can. To the north, garages,bedrooms and rooms that are not used as much. East, the kitchen to catch the morning light, and the screened porch or “cocktail deck” to the West. I always try to account for a covered deck that can be screened in by the homeowners if they want, providing a lovely, cool, and bug free environment in the hot summer months. I like putting lots of decking around my homes to create outdoor spaces around the house. This is nice as you can utilize different areas to get in or out of the sun or breeze. Many people love a large covered entry deck to “watch the world go by”.
I make sure that the overhangs of the home’s roof are at the optimal angle and width to bring light and heat IN during the winter, and keep it OUT during the hot summer. I have a computer program that helps me with this, and paying attention to this is really crucial in making sure the homes I design are cool in the summer and warm in the winter, just the way clients need them to be!
Look at the big south facing doors in this beautiful room- and the lovely view outside! That’s what I am aiming for!
Accessibility is very important to me as a designer and as a person. I was diagnosed with MS 17 years ago, and started using a wheelchair to get around 4 years ago. There are many barriers to me everywhere I go in my wheelchair, and I am always trying to open people’s eyes to them with my design and in my day to day interactions.
Five years ago my husband and I built our own house on the river in Washago. We built it using universal design principals so it could be used comfortably by a person who relied on a wheelchair for mobility. Hallways are wide, handles, outlets and switches are accessible, doorways are wide, the shower has no door and is large enough to be open to the rest of the bathroom and the powder room has room for a wheelchair in it. Our kitchen island has a lower part to it that I can wheel up to use the sink, light candles, open wine, or feed the dogs.
Recently our outside walkway settled so we had to retrofit our front door sill for me to be able to roll over it smoothly; here is a picture of how we did that. So I can be independent, there is no bump over a half inch in our house and I can roll around easily, often carrying things on my lap.
I have been involved in the Orillia MS Walk for about eight years and this fundraising event is very important to me. This year, the Walk has a Silent Auction at Brewery Bay in downtown Orillia from April 24 to May 4; please stop by there and bid on some amazing items all donated to help raise funds for MS research and assistance for those with the disease. The Mandarin MS Walk in Orillia is on Sunday May 5. It’s all about taking a walk….because you can. My sister’s team is called the Johnnie Walkers and I would love it if you would make a donation to them ….let’s make MS history. Just click on the link and then on a team member’s name to make a donation to that person- thank you!
I don’t believe a house has to be huge, or even all that large, to fulfill all the needs of a client. When I design a house, I am always thinking of ways that rooms and spaces can do double duty, thus eliminating unnecessary square footage, which is expensive to build, maintain and heat!
When I design a three bedroom home, the third room can either be a bedroom, office or den. Our current spec house has that third room separated by a 6' wide “barn door” from the great room. This is space that can be part of that great room or easily divided off. A murphy bed is ideal in a space like that to easily convert it into a bedroom if needed.
If I put a mudroom in a house, it can also house the laundry, and have extra storage for out of season clothing, junk, or anything else the client may want to store but have easily accessible. If I design a smaller house without a mudroom, the main entrance has ample storage to hide dirty and unsightly boots, skis, hats and mitts, and also has the entrance from the garage going into it, keeping all the outdoor mud and dirt in one area, for easy clean up.
The master bedroom needs to be a decent size with a good amount of closet space but I don’t think it needs to be HUGE. If the house has a lovely main great room with a nice view, clients don’t need a sitting area in the master bedroom; that’s not going to be where they chose to sit and relax.
Kitchens can be efficient and have lots of storage without a ridiculous amount of square footage; no one wants to walk miles just to get dinner on the table! Great rooms, as long as there is smart well laid out space for kitchen, eating and lounging, don’t need to be massive either. The trick is to make sure the house works for the uses and users of the space.