In a strange kind of way, today is an appropriate time to be writing the post about the house we’re planning to build on the land. That’s because today, after nearly 6 months of planning and bureaucracy, we’ve offered up the children’s inheritance to the City of Ottawa in exchange for a Building Permit. This rather disappointing piece of paper is more precious than a golden Willy Wonker ticket and arguably harder to get. I’d expected big wax embossing, or at least some fake gold leaf sticker. Perhaps a grand signature or two from someone of note. Instead, we got a photocopied proforma and I had to sign it myself.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back in November 2010 when we submitted our offer for the land, we began to dream about houses. Now, I’m the first to admit that I don’t like scuff and would rather contract herpes than live in a bland house for the rest of my life. Perhaps you’re thinking a nice country farmhouse? French country kitchen, stone walls and gingham? Er, no.
I like modernist architecture. Bold, big and bare. I’ve mellowed in my old age and wouldn’t go so far as to design a white box to live in, but under no circumstances do I want nooks and crannies, little snugs and french bloody country kitchens. Not unless I’m being blackmailed by someone with less compassion than Pol Pot.
Instead, there will be light. Lots and lots and lots of light. Which is good, because that was Emma’s top priority too. In all honesty, she’d probably be ok with a nook and a few crannies. Snugs are fine in her book. But since I decided to design the house myself and I can sulk like a grounded teenager who’s just been informed that the cast of Twilight are outside waiting to play, I get to choose.
But she’s also a practical and cunning woman. She laid down her requirements in less juvenile ways than me. A kitchen at the heart of the home, easy access to the outside, minimized carrying of laundry, cupboard (lots of), no balconies for the kids to parajump off, etc. Nothing unreasonable, but a bugger to fit into my initial designs. Out went the Mediterranean modern villa, adios to the grand internal staircase with glass railings. But what we ended up with, after about a dozen design iterations and some input from the guy who would turn out to be our GC is really rather stunning.
Here’s the final design: