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Architects’ vision turns dreary house into dream home

Life is  busy for architects Shawn Bruins and Beverly Dolson. The parents of two young children, they live in one of the most dynamic cities in the world. When things get really crazy in Hong Kong, they daydream about their lakeside vacation home in the Canadian bush.

Beverly is originally from Lively. They wanted a home away-from-home that was close to her family, whom they visit often. They found an ordinary house on a nice piece of lake property and transformed it into a contemporary pied-à-terre over a 15-month period. The project was completed last summer.

“The site, the neighbourhood, and Sudbury have great potential,” says Shawn. “Our idea was to renovate the existing house by maximizing the interior volume and natural daylight, improve the space planning, and create an architecture that is influenced by our experiences, both in Canada and from living in Asia.”

They were careful to use as much of the existing house as possible for the renovation. Building components, materials and appliances that were not re-used were given to the community.

“We kept the existing footprint of the house and decided to renovate it into an ultra-efficient, 2,100 square-foot dwelling, which provides more than enough living space for a family of four,” says Shawn.

They designed an energy-efficient, “green” home. Materials, fixtures and furnishings used in the home are recyclable and low maintenance, and where possible, were purchased locally.

“Extra insulation was added to all of the exterior walls, roof, basement walls and floors,” says Shawn. “An air barrier and heating recovery ventilator (HRV) were added to make the construction ‘tight’ to increase the energy efficiency.”

Windows and skylights are high-performance double glazing with low-E film technology. The furnace and water heater were replaced with a high -efficiency gas furnace and instantaneous gas water heater.

The bathroom fixtures are also high efficiency and ultra-low flush to reduce water consumption.

Bamboo flooring, an environmentally sustainable and renewable material, was used throughout the house.

“We reused the pool and installed a solar vacuum tube heating system. Our last addition to the project will be a photovoltaic solar system to generate electricity,” says Shawn.

Shawn is originally from Toronto, and met Beverly in their first year in architecture at Ryerson University. They got their master’s degrees from the University of Michigan before moving to Hong Kong. They work together at  KWP, Konstruct West Partners. Their daughter, Jade, was born in 2002 and son, Liam, was born in 2006.

Their Canadian vacation property is everything they wanted: beautiful, quiet, and peaceful. “The landscape and wildlife are fantastic,” says Shawn. “It’s located on Mud Lake, but we call it Villa Lake.”

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