When Sam Alaimo was designing his own spacious Ancaster home, he knew white was a risk. Done wrong, all white can look bland, unwelcoming, institutional. Done right, it looks sleek and modern, or as Alaimo puts it, “luxurious.”
Alaimo gambled on white and won, but that’s not a surprise. At 42, he’s making a name for himself as a self-taught designer. And it’s a skill that came in handy for his family’s four-bedroom, five-bathroom custom home.
“I just love houses,” says Alaimo, who with wife Ashley runs Lucaria Design. “It’s hard to keep it all inside. It’s like a medium walking into a place that’s haunted. Everything’s stuck inside, and you have to get it out.”
Alaimo discovered his love of design when he was 20. He grew up in Hamilton, the son of a steelworker, and at age 20 bought a rental house near Mohawk College with his two younger brothers.
With today’s real estate prices, Alaimo says, that never could have happened. But it was the late 1990s, and it was still possible to buy a decent house in Hamilton’s west mountain for $135,000. The brothers pooled some money together and the income they earned from renting to students paid the mortgage. That led to another house, and then another, and another after that. They’d re-finance one to buy the next, and use rental income to pay the mortgage. They sold off most of the homes in 2016 and early 2017, in the thick of Hamilton’s housing boom, when formerly $135,000 homes around the college sold for more than $350,000. The brothers flipped a few homes over the years, too, and that’s when Alaimo really discovered his knack with interiors. He’d stage the homes when they went on the market, and everyone would ask about the woman they’d hired. Interior decorating and design is seen as a female-dominated profession, Alaimo says, and people are constantly surprised that he’s male.
He began to read books, learn on the internet, and stay up on trends. He built a custom house in Dundas, and with Alaimo’s design work, it gained so much attention that he was asked if it could be used in film shoots. “From there forward, I thought, ‘I’ll give this a go,’ ” he says. “Eventually I told my wife, ‘Let’s do this full time.’ ”
Alaimo’s current home is on a quiet residential drive near Ancaster’s bustling Wilson Street. They bought the property in 2016, demolished the one-and-a-half storey house already on it, and built their own. The new home is 4,050 square feet with two storeys plus a finished lower level, and stunning facade by Euro Stucco Design & Construction. Alaimo wanted white for a modern and luxurious feel, but he knew it was important to break up the visuals.
The millwork is key. It forms shapes throughout the house, bordering walls and guiding visitors up stairwells. Alaimo designed it and hired Monticello Carpentryto fabricate and install it.