When Rob Parent originally purchased his limestone house in eastern Ontario it still had remnants of its previous use as a duplex. By 2005, when Rob moved to the area, the house had been returned to its original state as a single dwelling home.
One afternoon in 2017 Rob was watching a baseball game on TV while an intense thunderstorm was taking place outside. Suddenly he lost reception to his satellite dish and heard his neighbours pointing and milling around next door. He assumed something had happened outside but then discovered they were pointing at “his” house. A large tree had fallen onto the back part of the building, the original carriage house that was attached to the stone house and that also housed his kitchen and dining room. The tree had broken through the roof leaving a gaping hole. So began Rob’s adventure – building a new addition, which lasted seven months.
When the house was inspected after the accident it was decided that, while the stone house was solid, the carriage house was not. This required tearing down the entire structure and building a new solid foundation and a brand new addition. The challenge was to rebuild maintaining as many of the original characteristics as possible, while still providing all the modern conveniences of a new house. Beams were salvaged from the old carriage house and were used throughout – on mantles, walls and ceilings. Stone walls were exposed and the same radiant heat flooring was added throughout to provide a feeling of continuity and comfort between the old and new structure.
The floor space was opened up using a long corridor which can be viewed from either end of the house. From the corridor flow all the adjoining rooms: living room, study, kitchen, dining room, library and back entrance or mud room.
As you enter the front door, the central hall leads to a large living room on one side, next to a smaller study. This is the original 1849 stone structure which includes the wide doorway and transom (newly painted). The outside front entrance is new.
The living room includes the original fireplace, with a wood stove and the old bread oven.
The old house is separated by a stone wall and open doorway which leads into the new structure. Here is where you will find an intimate galley kitchen with a stone wall along the entire length of one side. This was the original inside wall of the 1849 stone house, positioned next to brand new, built-in appliances. The white cabinets and butcher block counters give the kitchen a contemporary feel while the stone wall grounds the space in the original structure.
Next to the kitchen is an open formal dining room. The outside portion of a stone wall from the original 1849 structure forms part of the dividing line between the kitchen and dining room.
Wainscotting has been added to cover new heat ducts and other electrical conveniences. Wooden beams on the ceiling are there for aesthetic appeal and the pocket doors along one side open to the library next door, providing flexible use of the space for entertaining large or small groups of guests.
The library showcases three generations of Rob’s family military history – three generations who served during WW1, WW2, the Korean War, and in Africa. Rob is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian military who previously served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. The library houses the original large beams from the carriage house. On the floor are rugs from Afghanistan. Above the fireplace mantle is Rob’s military rifle and regulation pattern swords. It’s an intimate, cozy space and a fitting place for honoring his family’s military legacy.
There is a front and back stairwell. The front has a new solid wood banister that was salvaged from an old house in Toronto. The back stairwell leads to a new self-contained apartment and loft space.
The roof on the addition was raised to accommodate a spacious loft with high, vaulted ceilings. It is a surprisingly modern, European-looking space with an open kitchen and living area, private entrance to an outdoor deck, separate bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom wall has been exposed to show the original stone wall of the house. The black lines on the wall are where the old roof used to be before the loft was added.
Another feature of this incredible addition is the number of new and updated bathrooms. Four bathrooms were constructed using old and new materials. There’s even a bath for the dog at the back entrance in the mud room.
Many times people who purchase old homes are either unwilling to maintain them, due to the cost, or unappreciative of their intrinsic beauty. So they tear them down and build something new that has neither character nor staying power. An authentic restoration of the original carriage house was not possible in this case because of the building’s inherent structural weakness and extensive damage from the storm. What is interesting and admirable about this new addition is that Rob has managed to maintain the integrity of the old structure while adding unique, modern and original elements to the new one – successfully making a house into an exceptional home.
Credits: Art work next to Rob above the living room mantle and in the dining room by Wendy Cain (Paper Artist and Printmaker). Early pre-confederation prints in corridor by William Henry Bartlett.