Photos by Robin Stubbert
Paul and Sandy Houston knew they’d be retiring soon, but downsizing wasn’t in their plan. Indeed, the Canadian couple was determined to build a home that would accommodate their extended family and become an enduring legacy. It took many years to fit all the pieces into place, but the 3,974-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom “cottage” is now a favorite place for their clan (two sons, daughters-in-law and four grandchildren) to gather each summer for boating, water sports and evening bonfires in the outdoor fire pit. “We’ve had 40 people up here at one time, and it never gets crowded,” says Paul.
Time and energy were the keys to finding a perfect lot and floorplan. “While the entire project spanned five years, it took me three years to find the lot,” says Paul.
Drawn to the lakes and forests of Ontario’s cottage country, Paul settled on the Haliburton area, famous for its crystal clear lakes and rocky landscape. “I wanted land where you could see the water on three sides,” he explains. He was lucky to find just what he wanted, a pie-shaped lot spanning more than 3 acres. “We have a total of 600 feet of water frontage in a private, secluded area,” he says. Since the widest end of the lot is at the water, the site was ideal for the 140-foot-wide house design he had chosen.
After shopping around, Paul decided to go with Linwood Homes because they “asked all the right questions and put a lot of effort into getting to know what I wanted.”
Searching for a plan that would fit his needs, Paul discovered an architect’s design for a log home and had Linwood adapt it to a timber frame. The process took around six months as Paul adjusted details, including adding space for two bedrooms in the basement and a 550-square-foot loft above the garage that he later finished himself.
Paul was particularly impressed with the quality of Linwood’s Western red cedar (the exterior siding) and white pine (the interior timber frame, ceilings and trim), as well as with the company’s construction division, Cornerstone CBS Building Solutions. “I acted as the general contractor, making all the decisions along the way, but Cornerstone assigned a foreman, Paul Whiteman, who worked for me, getting quotes and chasing the trades. He was on the site every day,” says Paul, adding, “It took a year to build.”
Blessed by a smart design that ushers in plenty of natural light, the home’s interior white pine is treated with linseed tongue oil that has turned invitingly golden. Sandy’s warm color scheme of tangerine, green and gold offsets the sunny hue of the wood. “People thought she was nuts when they saw the paint tins, but once the walls were done the colors really complemented the wood,” says Paul.
The Houstons have been in their timber home for five years and are “absolutely thrilled.” Not only because it’s a place of comfort and beauty today, but because they know they’ll be passing on a stunning family heirloom that’s sure to be cherished for generations to come.
Square Footage: 3,974
General Contractor: Cornerstone CBS Building Solutions
Timber Provider: Linwood Homes Ltd.