Tag Archives: Custom Home

Race cars & relaxation

A forever country home set amidst the idyllic Niagara escarpment is the perfect antidote to life in the fast lane

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A forever country home set amidst the idyllic Niagara escarpment is the perfect antidote to life in the fast lane

Photography by Candice Manastersky

With a need for speed, a professional race car driver and his family wanted to slow life down a little by investing in a custom home outside of Toronto. The goal was to escape the hustle and bustle that comes with living in a big city and create a forever country home, complete with all the modern amenities. As homebuilders, we wanted to infuse a cosy yet sophisticated modern vibe in an open-concept, two-storey home that’s both inviting and suitable for entertaining. Alair Homes worked with design firm Aspen & Ivy, and Custom CADD architects to help bring this family’s country dream home to life.

Landscaping permits protect the environment

The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) does an incredible job of environmentally protecting the area, and that’s why it took over a year of planning to gain permission to break ground. Even a lighting plan had to be submitted, as the NEC has a dark sky initiative, which forbids any exterior light to pierce the sky. Many site meetings were held to obtain landscaping approvals, which included identifying all of the trees that couldn’t be cut down and generating a tree-replanting schedule. Once we sought out all the necessary approvals, the team started work on a home surrounded by natural beauty, while ensuring the land was protected during the construction process from start to finish.

Spectacular views

For a home located near the Niagara Escarpment, it was only natural for the design to revolve around the location’s stunning 360 views. We took advantage of the design’s high ceilings by installing large floor-to-ceiling windows that would allow natural light to flow throughout the home. Warm wood, natural stones and black hardware materials were combined to enrich the natural brightness. The family wanted to have an inviting open-concept floor plan because as much as it is a place to escape the city, it also needs to be a place that was perfect for hosting social gatherings for friends and family. With the sunlight-drenched dining room and the connecting Muskoka room taking in the vista that overlooks the Escarpment’s treetops – which is extremely scenic during any season – it’s truly a place to marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds the home.

Heart of the home

It’s all in the details – that was the was the designer’s approach when designing the great room. One of the most striking elements is the eye-catching 20-foot custom natural stone fireplace with an old barn beam mantle, handpicked by Alair Homes. We wanted to steer the focus towards this beautiful, charming feature, and of course, there’s nothing like hearing the sound of the fire crackling during the long winter months. To complement the fireplace, warm design elements were added to the great room: layers of whites, panelled walls, tongue-and-groove ceilings, and natural granite stone. The integrated living space expands into the spacious kitchen where the family can enjoy countless meals together in an inviting dining area. In the kitchen, every aspect is truly custom. From the shiplap ceiling, to subtle uses of colour, and white oak pocket doors, no detail was overlooked.

The oasis bathrooms

The bathrooms in this home are designed to be a retreat away from the busy household with the intent to inspire a space of well-being. The oasis incorporates beautiful materials like herringbone slate floors, porcelain tiles that mimic natural stone, and faucets in luxurious brushed gold and dramatic matte black that are paired with custom vanities and his-and-her sinks. We even added a dog shower for the family’s furry friends to maintain an organized and clutter-free home.

Wade Swyer has been building houses and cottages in Ontario for more than 28 years.

And in 2015, he joined Alair Homes by opening an office in Bradford, where his team provides high-quality modern renovations and custom-built homes.


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Perspectives: Is A Custom Home The Right Choice?

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Perspectives: Is A Custom Home The Right Choice?

It’s becoming a more popular option, just be sure you know what you’re getting into

Many people have been asking what to do with their homes given how volatile the Toronto housing market has been for the last number of years. Most are opting to just stay in a home that no longer works the way they want rather than risk moving somewhere else. However, just because you decide that it’s better to stay put than to jump into the ever-fluctuating market, you don’t need to stay in a house that isn’t for you.

I’m going to explain some of the different options you have available to you that will allow you to stay in the house and neighbourhood you’re comfortable with that includes all amenities you’ve grown to know and love, without sacrificing the home that you truly wish you lived in.

Recently, I have noticed many new “smaller owned” custom homebuilders pop up in and around the city, paving the way for homeowners to make their dreams come true.

I’ve spoken to a number of people who chose to stay put and build rather than move and I’d like to share a few of those experiences with you. There are two things to keep in mind before you start:

  • A custom home renovation can truly be a blank slate. If you have specific ideas in mind, they can always be realized. If you are more comfortable leaving things in the hands of professionals that can be an option, too. If, however, you are really risk averse, the best option might be to consider buying an existing home.
  • Always make sure you find a reputable custom homebuilder who can take you through the entire building process from the initial draft to the final stages.

My first story comes from a woman who loved her neighbourhood and simply wanted to upgrade the home she already lived in. The builder allowed her to help in the design phase so the house would be exactly what she wanted. She lived in the home for the first six months during demolition and then had to move to a rented space while the project was completed.

It’s important to factor these potential costs in when beginning a project. Also, if you’re going to take a handson approach, be prepared to take time off work to help pick out flooring, tiles, paint, etc. so timelines stay intact. In the end, the woman fell in love with the addition and says that she would try and better prepare herself for any added stresses if she were to do it again.

My second story comes from a very hands-off homeowner. He met with an architect and they agreed on a budget and a style. The owner and his family moved out for two years while the house was rebuilt using designs, styles and innovations adopted by the architect. When construction was complete, the owner was thrilled with the results and had no stress issues.

While these are just two people’s experiences, hopefully you can learn a thing or two from them and apply them to your own views. Plus, before you start making any major changes to your living situation, here is a list of eight key things to consider first:

  • Know what you are getting into.
  • Hire the right people.
  • A designer is a must; knowing how much furniture and the placement early in the design phase is key.
  • Plan, plan and plan some more. Communicate everything and never assume.
  • Things look worse before they look better.
  • Mistakes will happen; have a backup plan.
  • Get to know your trades, they are on your team.
  • Listen to the professionals but know when to trust your gut.

If you think this list is manageable, maybe a custom home is the right choice for you. Just remember that the right team will make all the difference as to whether your custom home experience is a dream come true or a renovation nightmare. When you do select a builder and architect, make sure to ask for references, see examples of previous work and do a little bit of research online to make sure that there are no major red flags. When you follow these tips, you dramatically increase your chances of creating the home you’ve always wanted.

Vanessa Bellemare is the vice president, sales and marketing, of International Home Marketing Group (IHMG), a fully integrated sales manage and marketing company.



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