Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Dream with a View

Together with her husband John, Judy Keown had dreamed for years of building the perfect home. For years, they had owned an ideally situated plot of land on an otherwise uninhabited bay near their home just north of Parry Sound, Ontario. At the heart of cottage country, the Parry Sound area is famous for its arresting beauty and magnificent views.

It was the view that was of paramount importance to Judy and John, who imagined a home that looked out over the water of the Sound from every room. Sadly, John passed away in 2002. With the passing of her husband, Judy was hesitant and the dream of the home with the view faltered. But special dreams don’t fade away so easily. Inspired by her children, Rebecca and Jonathan, Judy decided to move ahead, selling her farmhouse and building her and John’s dream house. The challenge was finding the right design that would meet their unique vision.

In 2003, Jonathan came home from a visit to McNabb Home Building Centre in Parry Sound and shared an exciting discovery with his mother. “I’ve seen the perfect drawing,” he said, and handed her the Beaver Home and Cottage Design book. As soon as Judy set eyes on the plans for Jonathan’s suggestion - the Taylor Creek model - she knew that was the one.

Customizing a dream

Having picked a design, however, it was big step to converting that into a finished home. That’s when Judy turned to Gerry March at McNabb’s. “It was really important to have help from someone I could trust,” Judy says. “Especially with me being alone and not being familiar with the process of building a house.”

From the very beginning, Gerry listened patiently to Judy’s wishes, answered her questions simply and honestly, and made suggestions that would help bring the home together exactly as Judy imagined.

“I made lots of modifications to the design,” Judy acknowledges. “I didn’t want a basement, so I had to be sure that the house could be put on a slab. And the master bedroom was on the wrong side of the house in relation to the bay, so we needed to flip it.”

Working with Gerry, Judy soon learned that all of these adjustments, and many more, were possible. Several other changes followed. “Originally, I hadn’t wanted a two-storey home,” Judy says, “but my children encouraged me to do it so there’d be room for guests. We put everything I needed on the ground floor, with just two guest bedrooms up in the loft.”

In addition, Judy worked with Gerry to alter the back entrance to accommodate a laundry room. “And we added a beautiful screened-in porch off the kitchen, which wasn’t in the plan at all. Everything worked in together so nicely.”

Ideas branch out in new directions

Perhaps the most distinctive change that Judy made was at the very heart of the house. “There was a stubby supporting wall between the kitchen/dining room area and the living room,” Judy explains. “I wanted a more open feeling and I didn’t want that wall there. But we still needed to support the overhead beam. I didn’t just want a post, either.” The need was for something special and distinctive.

Then a friend of Judy’s came up with a novel suggestion: a tree. Judy loved the idea. Having a large amount of land around the house, Judy and her children began scouring the property for the perfect pine. “We were searching for a gnarly tree with big branches that went up, so it would look as if the tree was supporting the whole house,” Judy says.

Once that tree was found and harvested, the bark was removed, the trunk was bleached and the tree was set in place. “It blends in beautifully with all the other pine in the house, and it’s certainly unique.”

Building with a dream team

Perhaps the most dream-like element of Judy’s entire experience was the efficient and orderly manner in which it unfolded. Construction began in May, 2004, and was finished on schedule, by October. “We weren’t in any rush,” Judy says, “but there were never any delays, either. Everything happened right on time. As soon as one sub-contractor or tradesman completed his part of the job, I just had to phone up Gerry and tell him we were ready for the next part. It started right away.”

Gerry and the rest of McNabb’s staff supported Judy in the details as well as in the big picture. “When it came to picking out shingles, door knobs, locks and things like that, I didn’t have a clue. Gerry came into the store with me and took me to all the departments and showed me all the choices.” He explained the benefits of the different options and helped with recommendations that Judy is very happy with. She also appreciated Gerry’s patience.

“Sometimes I’d be in the store and settle on something I wanted - sliding doors off the master bedroom, for example - and then I’d get home and decide that I’d rather have French doors. So I phoned Gerry to make that change. He was very patient and everything went smoothly. His knowledge and expertise really helped, and everyone at the store was just super. I never felt alone.”

The finished home reflects the thought, care and patience that went into it. There is an open and casual air to it, with beautiful plank floors, pine trim and railings and a vaulted ceiling. The ample windows let in lots of light as well as affording those essential, stunning views of the bay. It is welcoming and comforting. In fact, entering the home is, indeed, like walking into a dream.

Judy agrees. “I love it. It’s just beautiful. It’s a perfect design for me. I can see the bay from every room in the house. It’s just perfect.”


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