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Jim's Place - Eco-Conscious Design

Jim Caruk builds his own dream home in Toronto

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Jim Caruk builds his own dream home in Toronto

Photography by Alex Lukey

There’s an old line about the cobbler’s kids going barefoot, the idea being that he or she is too busy repairing shoes for their customers to make shoes for their own children. Lucky for Jim Caruk’s daughters, this was never the case. The homebuilder and star of HGTV’s Real Renos (among other shows) has always viewed his own house as a showcase for the high-quality design and craftsmanship he always puts into the homes he builds for his clients, and his latest home is no exception.

Jim Caruk designed his home with an intentionally masculine, industrial look. The exterior features a mix of red brick, limestone, and black-accent panelling, capped with a Vicwest metal roof that has a 50-year warranty.
Jim Caruk designed his home with an intentionally masculine, industrial look. The exterior features a mix of red brick, limestone, and black-accent panelling, capped with a Vicwest metal roof that has a 50-year warranty.

Jim’s style takes centre stage

The four-bedroom, 3,800-sq.-ft. home is located in Humber Valley in the west end of Toronto. Now that his daughters are grown and have families of their own, (Caruk’s known as “Papa Jim-Jim” to his four grandchildren) he was free to indulge in some of the more masculine, industrial touches he favours. The exterior façade features a mix of red brick, limestone, and black-accent panelling. The lofty, industrial-looking windows bring in plenty of light, while the Vicwest metal roof will withstand the elements for decades with its 50-year warranty.

The maple and leather bench in the entrance foyer is from Toronto-based Objects & Ideas (ObjectsAndIdeas.com). All their pieces are designed and made in Toronto, using Canadian materials. The floor-to-ceiling wainscotting is typical of Caruk's "tricked out" trim.
The maple and leather bench in the entrance foyer is from Toronto-based Objects & Ideas (objectsandideas.com). All their pieces are designed and made in Toronto, using Canadian materials. The floor-to-ceiling wainscotting is typical of Caruk’s “tricked out” trim.

Inside, Toronto-based design company and retail outlet, 36 Knots helped burnish and furnish the look. “We were going for a contemporary, masculine look,” says 36 Knots’ Yvonne Tristani. “We used solid pieces, such as the heavier-set walnut chairs with blackened steel panels in the living room, offset with light leather cushions and very neutral carpets.”

The imposing piano converted into a coffee table in the living room is actually a double salvage. Caruk picked it up from a former client who was going to throw it out.

Jim Caruk’s favourite space in the home is the combined kitchen and dining room that span across the entire rear of the house, and leads to the covered back porch.

Outdoor oasis

“My favourite space is the dining room/kitchen. It’s the entire back of the house, and it leads out to the covered porch,” says Caruk.

The porch is a cosy covered seating area that looks out over the surprisingly secluded, tree-shrouded yard. The tongue-and-groove ceiling features embedded pot lights and a ceiling fan over the dining table. Glass railings provide an unobstructed view of the 12-by-20-ft. in-ground pool. In the basement, there is a guest room, or nanny room, with an ensuite bathroom.

The covered rear porch looks out on to the secluded, tree-shrouded yard with an in-ground pool. A ceiling fan over the dining table and a gas fireplace provide three-season comfort.
The covered rear porch looks out on to the secluded, tree-shrouded yard with an in-ground pool. A ceiling fan over the dining table and a gas fireplace provide three-season comfort.

Next-level energy efficiency

While the design, finishes and furniture reflect Caruk’s personal tastes, it’s what is behind the walls that he feels makes the biggest impact.

“The best feature of the house was working with Owens Corning to create a net-zero ready home,” says Caruk. Net-zero ready homes use the latest in building materials and design to minimize energy consumption. These features include insulation with R-values exceeding the current building code as well as sealing all the air gaps inside and out to prevent wasting heating and cooling energy. By adding a sufficient amount of solar panels, or other green energy options, a home can be classified as net-zero, meaning that it produces at least as much energy as it consumes every year.

The solid walnut and blackened steel living room chairs are contrasted with light leather cushions and very neutral carpets. Jim Caruk salvaged the coffee table made from the guts of a piano from a past client who was going to get rid of it.
The solid walnut and blackened steel living room chairs are contrasted with light leather cushions and very neutral carpets. Jim Caruk salvaged the coffee table made from the guts of a piano from a past client who was going to get rid of it.

“Building net-zero is still in the fairly new stages and it costs more upfront. But, in the long run, you’ll get that money back,” says Caruk. “My gas bill was cut almost in half.”

With more than 45 years’ experience building high-end homes for himself and his clients, Caruk has spent just as long learning how to build better homes from the inside out. His latest personal project showcases how you can combine attractive esthetics – matched to the homeowner’s particular tastes – with the latest innovations in energy efficiency.

Freelance writer Allan Britnell is the managing editor of our sister publication Renovation Contractor, and the editor of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s members’ magazine, Building Excellence.

SOURCES:
Builder and Designer: Jim Caruk, Caruk Hall Construction, Architect: David Small Designs, Styling: Christine Hanlon, Carpets and Furnishings: 36 Knots The Style and Staging House


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A stately estate

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A stately estate

A contemporary outdoor colour palette blends seamlessly with a garden rooted in history

Photography By Gillian Jackson

Since the beginning of time, humans have toiled to impose order over the terrain and create art from the landscape. Formal gardens have a long history; from the Middle Ages, English country manors borrowed from the jardin à la française (literally, garden in the French manner) who learned horticultural pursuits from Italian Renaissance gardeners. Before that, planned gardens can be traced back centuries to the Middle East.

But some present-day residential lots defy order, and pose a dilemma to new homebuilders, especially when the lot is on a corner; it’s curve-shaped and it’s not level. Where do you situate the house so it will embrace the terrain?

When realty and history collide

For these homeowners, building a stately, French chateau-style home on an irregular lot wasn’t the only plan. In spite of the curves, they also wanted lush formal gardens. David Small Designs, located in Mississauga, created the home – reflecting the best of French Renaissance architecture, which embraces the irregularly-shaped lot. The hardscaping, landscaping and pool design was entrusted to ProScape Land Design Inc. in Oakville who formalized the exterior plan.

“THE FORMALITY OF THE STONE PATHWAY GIVES WAY TO a wonderful mix of contemporary, traditional and cottage-style elements THAT WORK BEAUTIFULLY TOGETHER ON THE ENTERTAINING SIDE OF THE YARD. “

Making a formal, first impression

The large gables, bold, steeply-pitched rooflines and warm, light-coloured stone on the entire exterior of the home set the tone. The landscapers replicated those warm tones in stone pillars, walls and raised garden beds. The placement of the gated entry with ornate wrought ironwork was carefully considered to preserve the mature trees on the property. Boxwood hedges, natural stone pavers and symmetrical plantings were added to give a formal air to the public side of the house.

Layered and lush

The formality of the stone pathway gives way to a wonderful mix of contemporary, traditional and cottage-style elements that work beautifully together on the entertaining side of the yard.

Here, symmetry and balance add a contemporary element poolside; graduated steps lead you from the ankle-deep shallow end to the deep end; gas-operated fire bowls flank the pool and three modern, bronze waterfall features spill from the expansive stone wall.

Traditional plantings

Like a traditional garden, boxwood hedges and cedars frame beds of Chanticleer pear trees, Hosta plants and Japanese and native grasses. Even the white hydrangeas seem to pay homage to historical English Rose gardens, while adding to the understated green-and-white scheme. However, a jolt of electric teal, blues and lime green in the lounges, chairs and ottoman fabric remind us this is where we have fun!

The stone path continues to lead us to a stone wall and pergola-framed lounge area with lots of cosy seating around a large, gas firepit. It’s perfect for roasting marshmallows on a long summer night.

Loggia-style outdoor, covered deck

With entertaining in mind, the homeowners wanted an outdoor living and dining room with a wood-burning fireplace, large table for dining and an unobstructed view of the pool. A medium stained, bead-board ceiling adds a cottage feel, even at 11-feet high! Surprisingly, the curved, wicker seating arrangement by the grand, stone fireplace and the glassed-in balcony work harmoniously together. Stone steps that connect the deck to the pool level offer yet another place to perch and enjoy the view.

So, where is the lawn?

Instead of grass, the homeowners opted for artificial turf for the rest of the yard, now a large dog park devoted to their two Portuguese water dogs. Can you say, “spoiled”?

Contemporary or traditional, formal or wild, gardens are meant to be enjoyed; after all, they are our little piece of paradise.

SOURCES HOUSE, designed by David Small Designs, Built including covered porch, CMA Group POOL, Gib-san Pools LANDSCAPE designed & executed ProScape Land Design Inc. (front yard, dog yard, pergola & pool side) FIRE BOWLS, Grand Effects OUTDOOR FURNITURE, Southport Outdoor Living DECOR, Home Sense & Pier 1 COVERED PORCH LIGHTING Pottery Barn

Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour. janelockhart.com

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