• By: OLM Staff

Eclectic Beach House — A Retro Revival

All images courtesy of: Natalie Mireault Photography

In most cases, the inspiration and vision for a renovation can come almost immediately after seeing the space. However, in the case of this particular home things were a bit more complicated.

There are several neighbourhoods in Ottawa that boast a certain element of nostalgia. Honey Gables is certainly one of them. Nestled along the banks of the Rideau River, a National Historic Waterway, this secluded community has a diversified charm like no other. This community boasts everything from geometric shaped dwellings to Victorian farmhouses. No two properties are alike and the Eclectic Beach House is no exception.

Designed and built in the 1950s by its original owner and his wife, this midcentury classic is truly a design marvel, once its architectural significance is understood. Determined to respect the authentic elements of this unique property, it was time to comprehend ‘Art-Moderne’ for this mid-century classic. In order to do so, understanding the Modern movements of the 20th century was critical.

EBH - A Retro Revival Kitchen 2 Natalie Mireault PhotographyImmediately following the highly decorate style of Art Nouveau, emerged a German-inspired style of architecture known as the Bauhaus movement. Introduced by Walter Gropius, Bauhaus architects rejected the ornate styles of the ruling class and opted for design elements in their most simplistic form, free from any ornamentation. The subsequent periods of Art Deco and Art Moderne although similar in composition seemed to be heavily influenced by this movement.

Since architectural style is one of the many key factors used in dating a building structure and the design elements of this period are often low, horizontal structures that include asymmetric lines, aluminium trimmed windows and doors, a flat or butterfly roof, steel balustrades and open floor plans completely absent of any ornate features such as cornices, mouldings or eaves, the Eclectic Beach house was finally demystified. Everything is asymetric, angular and free from 90-degree angles. That eureka moment then becomes the contractor’s nightmare because these unconventional elements are to be preserved.

Starting with the exterior, the small metal windows were replaced with larger, energy efficient PVC windows that would take advantage of the home’s butterfly roof (a v-shaped roof that looks like a butterfly with its wings up) with respect to the elongated exterior walls.

This enabled the capturing of more natural light within the home and enhanced the view of the beautiful scenery that surrounds the property. In an effort to open up the space further, the distressed front door was also replaced with a wider high-definition panel profile steel door with glass inserts as a way to add style and distinction. The original mint green (not to mention enormous) overhang was modernized with a sleek, contemporary look using a black soffit and fascia that complemented the new front door. The dated dark brown cedar siding was replaced with a neutral beige pre-finished siding that blended nicely with the natural environment. As a way to respectfully enhance the low, horizontal features of this mid-century design, the siding was installed vertically to give this bungalow an illusion of additional height.

Finally, a small deck was constructed as a way to add some architectural interest to the minimalist entry way and a contrasting colour was selected for the tongue and groove pine on the exterior ceiling for the outdoor space. To complete the look, a cultured stone was chosen because of its lightweight composition and ease of application to add a dramatic pop to the front entrance. At last, an appropriate adornment to this minimalist space was selected and a teak table for two was added as a perfect little getaway for an alfresco date night.

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Creatively yours,


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