Architectural Gem: Two Architects Design their Dream Home in Westboro


This modern space is overflowing with art and natural light.


A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of  OUR HOMES The City of Ottawa, p. 72. Find local businesses in our Ottawa directory.

For architects David (COLE+ Associates Architects) and Kathee O’Neill Cole, it was instantly apparent that their contemporary home was going to radiate love and warmth, right from the first night they spent in their self-designed Westboro home. Kathee describes it with happiness in her eyes. 
There were no drapes or furniture apart from some lawn chairs; the house construction was nearing completion and there was a snow storm outside. It was New Year’s Eve 2016. Kathee and Dave had a picnic dinner and watched neighbourhood couples walk hand in hand ready to ring in the New Year and waving welcomingly as they passed their home. The room was lit with candles and a fire in the fireplace (Hubert's Fire Consultation + Design, stone surround from Urbano). In her own words, "it was magical."
This life-time dream started with a vision and was solidified by a well-considered design and positive building experience.
"We had such a great experience with our contractors," says David, including construction manager Westboro Homes. Careful site planning saved an 80-year old Ginkgo tree, native to China, which the couple describes as a neighbourhood favourite. 
This unique tree is an important part of the streetscape and the love for this natural wonder is a theme in the home, as the leaves are printed on the glass screen as you enter through the front hall.
The house was designed by the couple with varying factors in mind. "It had to be friendly for the future," says David, meaning that it would be ideal for retirement. In terms of design, that meant that the home would be easy to access, with a level entry close to grade and low maintenance exterior materials. It was also important that the home fit in to the neighbourhood. It is a modern home, but the materials used and proportions had to complement the established homes surrounding them.
It is instantly clear from the large windows that adorn the front room, that this couple love natural light, "We are sun worshippers," laughs David. The windows from Febelta Windows Systems are designed so that the couple receives maximum exposure to natural light. They have managed to create the ideal balance of flowing light through the home that offers a welcoming atmosphere.
The main floor is an entertaining space.  The central stairwell helps to create more intimate space. The front room leads in to a spacious kitchen, with brown high pressure laminate cabinets with raised horizon grains alongside white high gloss cabinets with polished metal edges from Deslaurier Custom Cabinets and fixtures from Preston Hardware. A beverage fridge fits perfectly at the end of the island. "We like a kitchen we can both cook in; it was important to get this space right," says Kathee. And they certainly did just that, with a large island that provides plenty of room to entertain and prepare meals. A beverage fridge fits perfectly at the end of the island.
Behind the kitchen is a delightful outdoor living space, and directly opposite from the front room is a front yard deck, both by Hemlock Carpentry. This creates accessible outdoor living areas.
This lovely home is a hub for stylish living, as well as making family connections and memories that span multiple generations. The couple warmly smiles as they talk about David's elderly mother bringing her packed lunch on a short walk to their home and resting on the front yard patio, enjoying the sunshine and watching the neighbourhood’s activities. 
A favourite with David and Kathee’s grandkids is a partially sunken hot tub from Poolarama, which is tucked in the corner in the enclosed back porch. The modern downstairs bathroom provides a space for a quick shower after fun splashing around.
A stunning glass staircase on the main floor has with a railing from Accurate Stairs and Railings that matches the walnut flooring from Rome Flooring that runs throughout the house. "The floor has a lot of charm and warmth to it,” says David . The glass staircase opens up the area and lets the light flow.
A light well in the stairs lets light cascade down the stairs. It’s a smart design that provides for the maximum flow of light and air. The master bedroom is open to the two-storey front hall, bringing in more light. Upper hallway bridges are open to the foyer and the central stairs.
The fireplace in the master bedroom adds extra warmth. The spacious master en suite has a more high-pressure laminate cabinets and a solid stone trough sink with two faucets. There’s a white vessel tub and a large walk-in shower. On the opposite side sits a huge walk-in closet. 
Two guest rooms, one doubling as a television/ yoga room, and a guest bathroom complete the upstairs.
Artwork adorns the walls around the home and unique fixtures from Arevco Lighting hang in various locations. It is clear that the couple are building quite the collection of art in their energy efficient home.
Other energy-efficient features include an R50 insulated roof, large high-performance ENERGY STAR windows and solar shading. "Being green and sustainable is important to us; it's the way we practise as architects," says David. The house has many hidden extras like lights and heating on timers to assure efficiency. 
With all the intricate details in design, this home is truly the culmination of years of planning, experience and of course, dreaming.

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Photography by Gordon King
Pictured here is the treasured Ginkgo tree that was preserved during construction.

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Photography by Gordon King
David and Kathee picked materials and design to mesh their modern home seamlessly into the neighbourhood.

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Photography by Gordon King
Kathee and David effectively extend their living space by creating outdoor dining and living rooms.

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Photography by Gordon King
The foyer is bright and welcoming. Translucent light fixtures draw the eye up and push the natural light through.

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Photography by Gordon King
The living room is bright and inviting. Rich walnut floors and a chic stone fireplace accentuate the space.

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Photography by Gordon King
David and Kathee make use of half and three- quarter walls and glass throughout the home to create an airy, flowing design.

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Photography by Gordon King

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Photography by Gordon King
Transom windows are seen throughout the home as a stylish conduit for natural light.

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Photography by Gordon King

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Photography by Gordon King
Kathee and David love to prepare favourite dishes together in their stunning kitchen.

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Photography by Gordon King
In past homes, David and Kathee had U-shaped islands that were not user-friendly. This island’s design makes it easier for collaborative cooking.

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Photography by Gordon King
An enclosed porch provides a cosy corner for the hot tub.

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Photography by Gordon King
The staircase represents one of David and Kathee’s design compromises. They settled on a gracious, warm staircase that adds nuance to the overall décor.

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Photography by Gordon King
Vaulted ceilings with windows to match amplify the sense of space.

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Photography by Gordon King
Original artwork is colourful and inspired by local scenes.

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Photography by Gordon King
They elected to use half-walls in a loft style to enhance the natural light.

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Photography by Gordon King
An oversize shower with glass enclosure, sleek soaker tub and large vanity give the master bathroom a spa-like appeal.