Passive-Solar Home as Charming as it is Smart


Natural modern living in this Guelph-area eco home combines sleek living with cosy décor.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Holiday/Winter 2017/18 issue of OUR HOMES Wellington County, Orangeville, Caledon, p.28. Find local businesses in our Wellington directory. 

With a modern, industrial-loft feel, it’s easy to forget that this home is as smart as it is charming. Jeanette and Steve MacEachern found a location in Erin Township to build their passive-solar home, however the house had to be turned away from the road to get the south-facing angle needed.
Steve, with a career in graphic design and a passion for architecture, spearheaded the design and build for his family of four. The resulting 2,100 sq.ft. passive solar home is both a rewarding and stylish way of living.
Entering through the glass panelled front door, your eye is immediately drawn to a custom barn door in the foyer. Crafted by Century Wood Products Inc. from reclaimed wood the door is fastened by steel hardware to the expansive block wall that spans the middle of the home. This load-bearing wall acts as a heat sink for thermal mass. In the winter months, this sleek feature wall absorbs heat from the sun, while in the summer months it releases cool air into the home.
Unique, polished concrete floors run throughout the main floor and provide a simple, yet luxe feeling underfoot. In the cooler months, radiant heat warms the floor and contributes to heating the home. Hints of rebar can be spotted on the floor near the base of the walls, giving the space a dose of rustic character. Contemporary elements like stark white walls, simple track lighting and glossy cabinetry are expertly paired with natural elements and contrasting traditional touches. Rough-sawn Douglas fir ceilings in the main living space draw noteworthy attention. Steve cleverly planned all the utilities so the ceiling remained uncluttered, allowing the warm, raw wood to ground the surrounding white walls.
Steve masterfully planned the main living space to feature two vital components – the wood-burning stove, from Caledon Fireplace Ltd., and a stack of easy-to-reach kindling. The stove features glossy-red side panels, an accent colour that is repeated throughout the home. Bound at either side by custom steel bookends, the wood pile sits as though purposefully stacked and curated. Positioned to allow heat to flow from the main floor up to the second floor, the MacEacherns rely on the wood stove during cooler days, when less sunlight is absorbed.
The simplistic design in the great room is infused with unexpected accents, like a rustic farmhouse table, which pairs harmoniously with a steel pendant light. An antique hutch has been stained in black and brings a subtle hint of nostalgia to the otherwise uncomplicated space.
The spacious upper level is just as bright and spectacular as the main floor. Leading upstairs, the steel and maple-tread staircase was inspired by a set of stairs they saw at a local cafe in Erin. Steve commissioned the same local welder, Jay Mayes, to design and construct their staircase and upper railing. Short-plank maple flooring upstairs purchased from an auction was installed by Everwood Custom Contracting to match existing wood flooring already purchased for one of the bedrooms.