Home tour: Creating a Dream Home with a DIY Ethic

A wine room, a well-equipped home gym, a sauna, a room-sized clothes closet with a mini bar and espresso machine, a three-level fishpond in the backyard. It sounds like a mansion or a house for the very well to do, but the reality is much more modest.

This house, on a quiet suburban street outside St. John’s, shows what’s possible with a DIY approach, a bit of work, a bit of planning, and an interest in design.

It began out of necessity – the need for a place to live. But it came without the need for a rushed decision, allowing for a considered approach.

On the outside, the house looks like any other suburban build but inside the contemporary interior is anything but typical. That contrast was intentional – the house is meant to blend into the streetscape, which it does.

The staircase was designed to be visually light and structurally strong – it appears to float between the floors, but is incredibly solid, thanks in part to its steel construction. Double-height ceilings add to the airy feeling and turn what would otherwise be an upstairs hallway into a catwalk.

Standing in the front entry, looking through the staircase, the symmetry of the house makes itself apparent. Two windows flank the fireplace, which is centred in the entryway line of sight.

A pair of chairs balance each other in front of the fireplace. In the foyer, there are matching doorways on the left and right. As a first impression, the house feels balanced.

Taking the door to the left leads one into the dining room and onward into the kitchen.

To the right, a sitting room and a temperature-controlled wine room behind a glass wall. A guitar sits in front of a coat rack, below a velvet smoking jacket that makes light of having a wine room in the house. It’s a tongue in cheek nod to back in the day and a way to have a bit of fun while sipping new wine with friends.

Bottles hang suspended on thin cables, carefully installed to the proper tension against the backdrop of a manufactured-stone wall. The wine is a mix of special, higher priced bottles and modestly priced but tasty wines.

The wine room wasn’t always here, though. When the house was built in 2004 it was a functional home, designed with everything they needed in a home – but not everything the owners of this house wanted. An addition completed a few years ago now houses the wine room and home office on the main floor, with a large clothes room occupying the upper level.

Between the office and the wine room is an expanded bathroom. Originally, this main floor space was just a powder room, but now it’s a full bathroom complete with soaker tub and spacious shower. From the doorway, the bathtub and tiled wall, lit by a chandelier-like crystalline light fixture, entices.

The main living area is largely open concept, with entryways made large and doorless, topped with windowless transom openings. The lowered ceilings of the living room create a cozy corner, made all the more intimate with plenty of soft furniture and warm tones. A wood panel wall feature adds an artistic element to what would otherwise just be a television wall bracket.

In the kitchen, a stainless steel counter, stainless appliances and maple shaker-style cabinetry gives the space a contemporary look.

Installed in 2004, the kitchen has retained relevancy, thanks in part to the lasting appeal of modern-leaning, relatively unadorned cabinetry.

Upstairs, the addition that allowed for the wine room created the space for a walk-in closet nearly the same size as the bedroom.

The room is lined with cabinetry, creating a his and hers style closet that offers an uncluttered organization solution. A granite-topped island provides a surface to arrange outfits, while also providing more storage.

The closet also functions as a relaxation space, with a pair of easy chairs facing a television and a mini-bar in the island stocked with beverages. An espresso machine relieves the need to go downstairs in the morning. The space functions both as a closet and as a way to ease in and out of each day in a relaxed, comfortable space.

The addition and its new function left the former, much smaller, walk-in closet without a purpose. With no other storage needs requiring attention, the tiny room was turned into a sauna with heat, steam rocks, cedar paneling, and two levels of bench seating.

The homeowners, who also acted as general contractors, did much of the work in the home’s renovation and initial build. Their willingness to get involved allowed them to incorporate elements that would otherwise be considered dream items, while also opening the possibility for these design fans to realize their own ideas of what the ideal home looks like.