Reno Story

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"Balancing the needs of a modern family with a desire to retain a home’s character during renovation is a rewarding challenge"

lifestyle magazine online londonWhen their family and growing home-based renovation business dictated a need for additional space, John Dias and Stefanie Coleman-Dias embarked on a quest to find a house they could renovate to meet their needs and showcase their expertise.

They found it in a modest two-storey home on Sunset Drive and, during three years of intensive labour, have transformed it into a comfortable family residence and a showplace for Coleman-Dias³ Construction.

From the first visit, they “liked the feeling in the house,” Stefanie says. “We felt we could do what we wanted here.” Today, she maintains that of all the houses she’s lived in, “this is the one that really feels like home.”

In creating the transformation, John and Stefanie combined their own tastes with respect for the heritage of the dwelling, constructed circa 1940, and a desire to preserve its colonial revival character.

To that end, they retained as much of the original décor as possible, repurposing elements like the vintage chandelier from the foyer now hanging above the dining room table and classic casement-style windows from a den that, today, form the walls of a backyard greenhouse.

The exterior was stripped down to the cedar sheathing, a process that revealed original trim around the front door that mirrors interior trim around doors, windows, built-in shelving and even the main-floor fireplace.

Layers of insulation were added and finished with insulated siding to maximize energy efficiency. This is a passion for Stefanie, who’s a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s Net Zero Energy Housing Council. In fact, this commitment has resulted in the home receiving Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Healthy Housing certification.

John and Stefanie also added decorative stone veneer to the outer front wall and built a covered porch and U-shaped interlocking stone driveway. The single-car garage was replaced by a double-car version.

Behind it, a large workshop for John opens to the rear yard, which includes an in-ground pool where they have added a waterfall. There is also a covered patio with ample seating and an outdoor kitchen, creating a summertime oasis.

"Renting is simple and stress-free"

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Entering the home, the foyer leads to a front-facing living room. Here the couple kept double glass doors from the hallway and the fireplace mantle and trim. They added a stone veneer overmantle, matching the front of the house. For Stefanie this is reminiscent of her great-grandmother’s stone fireplace. New built-in cabinets bracket the fireplace and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves create a library-like sitting room.

Corner shelving units were retained in the adjacent dining room. A den/ sunroom behind the dining room was converted to an office.

Some of the most substantial changes were made in the ’60s-era kitchen. It was opened up to the dining room with an island that is topped with an oak butcher block, matching the original oak hardwood flooring through much of the home.

Perimeter counters are white-veined black granite, resembling soapstone, and sport a marble backsplash. Above the sink, a leaded glass window to the hallway enhances the airy ambiance.

Cabinets were constructed by GCW Custom Kitchens. The pièce de résistance is a unique pantry. Narrow floor-to-ceiling doors appear to enclose more cupboard space but actually open to a walk-in pantry with counter and storage shelves along two walls.

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"Our neighbours look out for us,"

Here, an original outside wall has been preserved, the cedar sheathing sanded and stained.

In another nod to the past, the range hood has been retained. Originally avocado green, a popular appliance colour in the mid-20th century, it’s been wrapped in black aluminum with stainless steel trim for a more contemporary finish.

Upstairs, the master bedroom also received a significant facelift. A rear deck was converted to an addition with cathedral ceiling. This created space to add a generous walk-in closet, as well as a laundry room leading to a cheater bathroom.

Above the workshop, John and Stefanie have added a second-storey family room with cathedral ceiling, stone fireplace and a wall of built-in cabinetry, as well as a rear deck.

The lower level features a wine cellar that Stefanie says will include distinctive features like mirrors layered with seedy glass lit by LED lights for a starry-night effect bracketing the wine rack.

Reclaimed wood beams from a 100-year-old barn add to a vintage ambiance. This level also includes a large family games room and exercise area.

In May of this year, Coleman-Dias³ Construction celebrated its 10th anniversary with a small open house for friends and colleagues. This fall, the home will be featured in the London Home Builders’ Association Parade of Renovations and the St. Thomas Rotary Christmas Tour of Homes.

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