"Family time, couple time, any time – this home delivers"
It took three years and hundreds of hours of planning, designing, building and finishing, but Brian and Georgina Finch achieved their goal: a familyfriendly retreat on Lake Huron that serves as the ultimate getaway.
With their former cottage a longer drive away in Muskoka, the Finches decided to make their summer home on Lake Huron and purchased a double lot near Grand Bend.
“It’s not that far away so the kids can come up and spend the night and go back to London for work the next day,” explains Brian. But most visitors don’t want to leave the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom beachfront home so quickly.
“We love to entertain and we’ve had my wine club up for a tasting and most of them stayed overnight,” he says.
“My book club has been up too,” adds Georgina, and while having these adult visitors is high on their list, one main reason for building closer to London was being able to host their growing brood of eight grandchildren and their parents for extended stays.
Myra Truer, of Detailing and Design by Myra, had helped the Finches design eight previous homes, so their “soft, contemporary style” was easy for her to capture, she says. Using modern construction methods, the home was built to be open concept and oversized windows throughout it offer people inside the dramatic views of Lake Huron. Truer says Steve Sims, of The Barnswalllow Company turned her drawings into architectural plans and he “grew it out of the ground“
"State-of-the-art technology runs all the home’s systems"
“The home is built more like a commercial building with structural steel,” explains Sims, “which allowed us to make it open concept.”
He designed it to have a 42-foot steel ridge beam in the ceiling, allowing the rooms to be open and not obstructed with pillars.
State-of-the-art technology runs all the home’s systems – including automatic blinds – through an iPad or smart phone, but the cottage feel isn’t lost. One example is the elevator, which will allow the Finches to age-in-place and aids in the transportation of guest luggage to the home’s three levels: Its shaft is in the middle of the house but disguised with tongue-in-groove cladding painted beachy white.
The covered outdoor patio that can become a sunroom with a drop-down screen wall is a smart feature that maximizes indoor/outdoor living.
"The home is built more like a commercial building with structural steel"
Form and function
Brian has been an oenophile for 25 years and has collected thousands of bottles of fine vintages —including 3,500 he keeps at the Grand Bend home.
Woody’s Premium Cabinetry built a temperature-controlled wine storage closet in the basement, which is the main storage area. A tempered glass-fronted display case provides one wall of the dining room as the other. Made of solid walnut burnished with beeswax, these wine storage units are as beautiful as they are practical.
The same can be said about the white, bright kitchen, butler’s pantry – all designed, built and installed by Woody’s.
According to Alison Dudek, of Woody’s Premium Cabinetry, the Finches wanted to carry the beach theme into the home’s décor as much as possible, so a manufactured wood product that resembles driftwood was used to construct many of the bathroom vanities, while others are specially stained walnut to match the flooring.
The bars in the basement exercise room and the master level lounge area continue this theme. But sand gives over to glam in the master bathroom and closet.
Two special features of the latter – measuring 22’ x 14’ - are what Truer has termed “the purse gallery and the shoe library.”
A much-loved chandelier from their previous home hangs above the closet’s oversized island with drawer organizers for accessories, as well as four locking drawers for jewelry.
Matt Relouw, of Platinum Builders Inc., says doing construction lakeside during two of southern Ontario’s most vicious winters proved challenging at times.
Besides working around the topography of the beachfront lot, Relouw made the home as energy efficient as possible by using materials that would stand up to harsh winds and temperature changes associated with lakeside living.
Life on the lake
Of course, a major attraction of lakeside living is being outdoors, so developing the lot was a big part of the project. Landscape architect Richard L. Crossman, of Parterre Landscape Design Associates, developed a plan that took advantage of the lot’s natural beauty.
He used extra-large pieces of flagstone to form the terrace and incorporated kid-friendly features into the design, like a fire pit for roasting marshmallows and an outdoor shower. A covered observation deck for enjoying famous Lake Huron sunsets was also included.
Crossman included beach grasses in his design so the “home looks like it fits into the landscape, not the other way around.”
After the time, money and effort to achieve their dream home, are the Finches happy with the result? “We had the whole family there at Christmas (gathered around the dining table that can sit up to 20, specially made for them in New York),” says Georgina. “And it was just perfect, just the way I’d imagined it.”