Once a year, Ottawa Magazine publishes its Interiors Edition. I picked up a copy a few weeks ago, and was intrigued by the picture on the cover. What a totally cool room, with two walls of windows and a great view of the water.
I finally got around to reading the magazine last week. When I got to the article about the home featured on the cover, I slowly clued in to the fact that I know this house!! I’ve never been in it, but whenever I go biking and do the loop to Parliament Hill and back, I pass by this house, which is just across the canal from Lansdowne Park. And every time I pass by, I wonder what this house looks like on the inside, because it’s not anything like its neighbours on the outside…
And then a couple of years ago, the unassuming red brick Victorian underwent an extreme makeover and turned into this!!
As you can see in the before and after pics, the facade of the house up to the roofline didn’t actually change that drastically. The new front door and windows are essentially in the same places as the originals, right down to the little oval window beside the door.
But that’s where the similarities between the old and the new end. The entire interior was gutted and the top floor was chopped off and rebuilt, complete with the cantilevered extension above the front door. How much is that doggie in the window?? ;-)
The couple that bought the house in 2007 hired architect Paul Kariouk, with the intent of doing some simple renovations. As the three of them discussed what needed to be changed, they came to the realization that the homeowners’ preferences and lifestyle needs, as well as a leaky roof and poor insulation, weren’t going to be addressed with the planned renos. So what was originally a simple project morphed into an extensive project that completely changed the feel and function of the house. They even took the dog’s needs into consideration!!
You can read more about the thought process behind the design on Paul Kariouk’s web site.
This is the BEFORE:
And this is the AFTER:
Paul Kariouk describes the home as a vertical loft. There are very few interior walls and no real rooms in the traditional sense. The whole interior is like a single multi-level room in which various spaces have been created, suspended, or delineated.
The front entry has a grate in the floor with a drain underneath it. The homeowners use the hand-held shower to clean off their muddy boots and their muddy dog :-)
The parlour is to the left of the entry. Love the floor-to-ceiling (and beyond!!) windows.
Standing in the parlour and looking towards the back of the house. The room at the bottom of the stairs is a wine cellar. The white cubes above the main level are the second level “pods”. You’ll see what I mean in a minute…
And looking towards the front of the house.
The kitchen consists of a wall of cabinetry and an island the size of a small country!!
Let’s move up to the second level. The design up here is really unique — rather than formal rooms, the second level library, den, and study are “pods”. The den and study have half-walls, making them completely open to the rest of the house. The pods are accessed from an open catwalk corridor. The first pod at the front of the house is the library. This is just about the only space in the house with full walls — you need somewhere to put all those books!!
I’m guessing these books can be accessed from inside the library…
The den pod is in the middle, and the study pod is at the back of the house (bottom of the picture).
Kariouk had to work hard to convince the homeowners to go with his vision of the cantilevered extension. How did he manage to get them onboard?? He told them “if you don’t do this cantilevered thing (love that technical term!!), this house’s exterior will be completely unmemorable.” How true — without the cantilevered “thing'”, I’m not so sure I would have even noticed this house on my bike rides. This is how Echo House looks from the bike path. (Image from Google Maps)
Here’s a shot of the cantilevered extension during construction. That view would have been enough to convince me to do it!!
And Kariouk’s proposal showing the cantilevered extension. He even included the dog :-)
Although you’d think floor-to-ceiling windows in a bedroom would be très risqué, the way the house is sited keeps the top floor and the master bedroom out of the neighbours’ sightlines. Even so, I think I’d feel way too exposed walking around naked in here, especially at night!! But wow, the light in the room and the views are spectacular!!
The stairs from the master bedroom join the catwalk corridor on the second level. The grass outside the window is on the rooftop terrace.
And a peek into the ensuite shower.
A few more cool interior shots. This one is looking up at the den pod.
The view looking straight down into the kitchen from the catwalk corridor between the den pod on the left and the study pod on the right.
Looking from the den pod down into the living room.
Thanks to Ottawa Magazine for taking us inside this bright, beautiful, and truly unique Ottawa home. Hope you enjoyed the tour of Echo House as much as I did!!
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