Photography by Curtis Comeau; Styling by Leslie Chevalier
Darlene and Oz Hamdon’s nearest neighbours are steps away from their front door but, looking out the expansive windows that face the woodsy nature preserve at the back of their house, you’d think they were on an acreage. Their two-year-old house in Copperwood, part of the new Hamptons subdivision in the west end, makes the most of the pie-shaped lot on a cul-de-sac. Trees are visible from every window, and deer, owls and woodpeckers are frequent visitors.
“Oz and I went from lot to lot for two years until we found this one,” Darlene says. “We fell in love with the lot and the neighbourhood. We love the trails through the woods right outside the house.”
For the Hamdons, Copperwood was the perfect mix of people and nature. With the dream lot purchased, the couple set out to design and decorate a house that would fit their love of entertaining and their young family (son Dylan is five and daughter Kennedy is 10). They sat down at the computer to work out a floor plan together, then took it to builders at Western Living Homes.
“The open floor plan encourages connections between us and our children,” Darlene says. As you move through the house, you encounter several cosy spaces without actually passing through a doorway. The front door opens into a wide foyer, then take a step up and you’re at the heart of the house – the great room. A striking gas fireplace is front and centre, surrounded by stone and a formal cream-coloured mantle.
The south side of the great room stretches into an open kitchen, with lustrous, off-white tiles echoing the mantle of the fireplace and softening a granite-topped island. Darlene knew that tiles could make or break the look: “I wanted a classic look that would be great years from now.” So, for this, she called on Panache Ceramics and Glass to custom-make her glazed, ivory tiles.
“All whites are not equal,” says Panache owner Rose Marie Pally. Panache, which also supplied antique terra cotta tiles for the Hamdons’ mudroom and entrance, makes custom ceramic tiles, glass tiles, vessel sinks and glass sculptures – anything that allows clients’ homes to stand out from the rest. “For Darlene, we greyed the white tiles to match her kitchen cabinets, and created a harlequin pattern interspersed with white rococo flowers.”
Basically, you won’t find it in another kitchen.
To the north of the fireplace is the formal dining room, divided from the rest of the great room by glass and a set of French doors. Another set of French doors off the dining room allows guests to take their coffee outside after dinner. The atrium-like dining room maintains the open perspective, but divides the space, keeping the proportion of the room manageable. Without this partition, the great room could be too great and look like a gymnasium speckled with household furniture.
“The proportion and scale of the house had to work,” Darlene says. She worked closely with Nicholas DeRose, general manager at Western Living Homes, who understood her and ensured that all 4,000 square feet were useable.
Building at the height of the housing boom four years ago, Darlene’s preparation meant that DeRose’s intense schedule wasn’t exacerbated by customer indecision. “Darlene completed extensive research and was prepared when the time came to make decisions,” says DeRose. “This helps us to explain to our trades exactly what the customer is looking for.”
Up a short set of stairs from the great room is the bonus room, an open TV and lounge area. A few more stairs take you up to the bedroom level, with a loft-like hallway almost the entire width of the main floor. A nook houses a comfy chair and a compact desk where “we can read stories to Dylan, and Kennedy can do her homework,” Darlene says.
Airy and light, the master bedroom has huge windows that look onto the same copse of woods, giving a sense of both openness and privacy. A giant soaker tub is the focal point of the ensuite. Here, too, Darlene has opted for the earthy colours of beach and driftwood. The children’s bedrooms are cosy and close to the master bedroom.
To plan and decorate, Darlene called on her years of experience as an interior design consultant, the last 11 of them with Ethan Allen Home Interiors. Her choice of traditional tile colour and paint – just to the buttery side of neutral – is the backdrop for her judicious use of textile and colour. This includes cosy accent pillows and traditional floral motifs on rich drapes in the nook, as well as other patterns, such as classic stripes on a chair in the great room. Accents include deep reds, celadon green and rich golds, and ornate gilded frames give the space a luxurious feel.
While Oz and Darlene collaborated on the floor plan, the majority of decorating choices fell to her, as did the frequent site visits to make sure the project was unfolding as expected. Oz wanted the house wired for sound and a basement home theatre system roughed in. The basement also includes the office, where Oz, an engineer, sometimes works.
There were challenges along the way, says Darlene, not the least of which was to figure out a way to incorporate the dark hardwood floors she wanted. “I could imagine Dylan launching his [toy] cars over the upstairs rail into the great room,” Darlene says. Rather than trying to take the fun out of the boy, her solution was to opt for a five-inch, hand-carved maple hardwood, stained dark. Not only is maple one of the toughest hardwoods, the hand-carved surface provides a variable texture and colour that can hide the nicks and scratches that come from a busy family home, especially one that includes the occasional weaponized Hot Wheels car.