Framing a sweeping view of Ontario’s Blue Mountains and Georgian Bay was the first step a tight-knit team took to build the ultimate modern farmhouse. Together, architect Tony Round of
blackLAB Architects and designer Cameron MacNeil made the most of the jaw-dropping scenery and enhanced the natural indoor-outdoor vibe. “Everyone was working toward the goal of a fantastic place to live,” says Tony.
“This was originally meant to be our weekend house, but while our daughter, Ava, who’s four years old, and our 22-month-old son, Noah, are still young, it’s our permanent residence,” says homeowners Kevin Heeney and Alim Dhanji. “Our anecdotes about what it’s like to live in a modern farmhouse that integrates indoors and outdoors so seamlessly could fill a book.”
Escape to this contemporary country home with panoramic views.
The black board-and-batten house sits on more than 40 hectares of land dotted with fruit trees and a crystal-clear pond. The six-bedroom, 5,900-square-foot
home comfortably hosts friends and family.
Alim (seated), senior VP with Adidas Group, and Kevin, a real-estate agent, with their daughter, Ava, son, Noah, and golden retriever, Carter, on the front steps of their newly built home.
The living room ceiling soars to 22 feet at its peak, but horizontal trusses give the space a more intimate scale. “Plus,” says Cameron, “they help reinforce the modern farmhouse idea.”
Tony kept the living room fireplace low and linear for a modern look and tucked the TV behind a sliding door just above.
A landscape painting in the dining room was the couple’s first joint purchase 15 years ago. “It’s almost like another window looking out onto an orchard,” says Kevin.
Cameron opted for black modified Shaker-style kitchen cabinetry. “The space is big enough to handle black and it ties in with the black beams.” He chose Caesarstone countertops with a honed finish, and the hardware is two-tone in a warm bronze.
The white, black and blue aesthetic in the kitchen reminds Kevin and Alim of their homes when they lived in Hong Kong and Barbados. “With Cameron’s help, we tried to reflect what we liked about those places,” says Alim. When possible, Cameron panelled the appliances for a sleek look.
Patterned floor tile in the pantry is a nod to traditional farmhouse style. Alim and Kevin are in and out of the space every day to feed the dog, make smoothies and collect ingredients for dinner.
“The powder room is the most traditionally ‘country’ room,” says Cameron. Even the contemporary sink, which is fitted with brushed bronze fixtures, is in a farmhouse style.
Cameron convinced Tony to scrap plans for built-in storage in favor of the grey-blue armoire for guest coats in the breezeway. “The armoire isn’t an antique — it’s new and locally made to our specifications,” says Cameron. “I thought it softened the area.” Carter, the family’s golden retriever (who’s from the same breeder as the stars from the Air Bud movies) likes the breezeway’s cool tile floors.
Landscape designer Joel Loblaw chose low-maintenance dwarf Russian sage and dwarf fountain grass to frame the pool. The pavers are the Umbriano lock-stone material in Midnight Sky by Unilock.
The hallway to the kids’ bedrooms ends with a Dutch door that opens into the mudroom. The green pendant lights were a nod to the hunter green pantry. “They resemble industrial barn-style fixtures,” says Cameron. “In multiples, they’re fun and really work in that space.”
In Ava’s bedroom, Cameron had the lavender paint color stop shy of the ceiling. “With kids’ rooms, you want to make them playful.”
Cameron chose arabesque tiles for the floor of the principal bathroom and used a contrasting grout to make them pop.
Cameron scrapped the idea of an upholstered headboard in the principal bedroom after finding a landscape mural that echoes the view outside. A plaid rug, one of the owners’ favorite items from their former city house, balances the mural’s cool blue hues. The black metal frame of the four-poster bed works nicely with the trusses and was Alim’s idea.
Author: As told to Alison Garwood-Jones
House & Home May 2019
Cameron MacNeil, Architecture by blackLAB Architects