DAVID PARSONS has designed the ultimate man’s house, filled with decadent goodies for a single guy and his friends. On this Father’s Day weekend, take a virtual tour of life where a Jag and a Harley, not an aging minivan, sit in the garage
Between grabbing a Big Mac at McDonald’s and hurrying to get the kids to soccer practice in the minivan, most men could be forgiven for wanting to trade places with David Parsons and his gleaming red Jaguar. At least for a weekend. In honour of Father’s Day, take a moment to think about what could have been if family and children hadn’t wormed their way into your tender heart.
Take a virtual walk through Parsons’ Cumberland bungalow-and-a-half, a completely masculine affair the entrepreneur designed and built for himself and his friends.
Of all the masculine features in his sprawling pad, it’s the dishwashers that shout “guy” the loudest. That’s dishwashers as in two. One houses dirty stuff, the other clean.
By the time Parsons has used all the clean dishes, it’s time to wash the grimy ones, and the cycle starts over. “That way, I never have to put anything away,” explains the Ottawa businessman.
When Parsons built his 5,000-square-foot stone and stucco home last year, he wanted a welcoming, unfussy spot where friends would instantly feel at home. Just like he does.
And while visiting female friends — including his “significant other” and her Newfoundland dog — love the house, it’s clearly a man’s space. So much so that his pals call it The Clubhouse.
Outside, mature maples surround the large chunk of land, forming a green backdrop for the spacious pad and masking its bulk.
Sandy tones of the exterior also minimize the home’s size, so that from the street it looks like a one-storey building. It’s actually a landscaping trick, with soil and planting in raised beds at the front, while the back rises up two levels over a landscaped patio and outdoor kitchen.
Large patio pavers and landscaping stone lend a sense of permanence to the multi-levelled side terrace, while a low wall and steps lead up to the front door.
Inside, The Clubhouse is all high ceilings and rounded, curving walls that combine to produce a restful blend of light and shadow. Strong interior lines and massive elements, including a 15-foot barrelled ceiling in the front hallway, a pair of dark-stained maple pillars, oversized white baseboards and helpings of slate, marble and rich Peruvian cherry floors all rumble:
Male. Interior and exterior spaces seem to meld into each other, thanks to large windows and numerous doors that lead to the back patio and two barbecues.
There’s not a curtain in the place, just a privacy screen beside the beds. “Why hide these beautiful windows? Mother Nature gives me my drapes,” Parsons says, while pointing out trees that shield him from distant neighbours.
On the main floor, his little oasis houses an office, spare bedroom and bathroom, master bedroom, dining room, and, at the back, an open kitchen and great room, with views of the gardens.
Even the kitchen, which was installed by A. Potvin Construction, is a masculine and broad-shouldered blend of stainless steel and dark-brown wenge cabinetry that captured top honours at last fall’s design awards sponsored by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.
The kitchen’s outsized island offers oodles of work surface on one side and space for making drinks and socializing with the chef on the other. The great room’s natural gas fireplace and plasma television are within an easy sight line from the island.
“My friends love this kitchen,” Parsons says. “They take it over. One of them likes to cook Oriental. He bought a really expensive wok and keeps it here to use when he’s over.”
Parsons — who designed the house based on choice bits from a dozen homes he’d seen — proudly points out other technical touches in the kitchen, including the oversized yet quiet fan in a 48-inch stainless-steel range hood by Venmar-Broan and the fresh-air return behind the professional JennAir gas range.
He is equally proud of the red accent tiles behind the range that pick up colour tones in the oxblood leather sofa in the great room.
“Did I show you the garbage can?” he abruptly asks before hustling back into the kitchen. He waves his hand over the gleaming stainless-steel cylinder and the top swings up, thanks to a battery-powered electric eye. “I found it for $65 at Loblaws.”
Spare, but comfortably furnished like the rest of the house, the decidedly masculine master bedroom includes a walk-though shower with a seat and multiple body jets.
And when there is time to linger, Parsons heads to a sparkling white infinity tub — a surrounding catchment area allows it to spill over — but not before switching on the neighbouring threesided gas fireplace. Radiant heat in the floor makes sure his toes stay warm on the coldest winter day.
The generous walk-in closet is also a walk-through. “I’ve designed this place so there are two entrances or exits in nearly every room.
“You should see this room when the sun comes through the trees in the winter,” Parsons says of the master bedroom. “You can watch a picture of the shadows as they walk across that wall during the morning.”
In fact, except for the morning shadows and a huge picture of his beloved Camelot Golf Course hanging in the dining room, the walls are noticeably bare. “I like the look without clutter on the walls. It’s a masculine thing. There might be a big-screen TV on the wall, though.”
The 54-year-old Parsons didn’t quite have all this in mind when he started thinking about building a home a few years back.
“I was thinking of a 1,600- or 1,800square-foot place, but then I was having dinner at a friend’s house up the street and they said there was a lot for sale. I bought it. Then I said, ‘OK, now I’ve got all this, I’ve got to do something with it.’
“Back in the 1990s, I’d invested money in mutual funds and lost 40 per cent almost overnight. This time, I decided to invest in my home.
“I wanted lots of open space where my friends could just come and enjoy themselves. Maybe it comes from growing up in Newfoundland, where we always had house parties to entertain ourselves.”
Illustrating his point, a staircase leads from the master bedroom down to the games room, where there is another comfy couch and chairs, a fullsized pool table, and doors leading to the patio and a muscular 180,000-BTU gas fire pit.
Next to the games room is a vast spa that looks out on a Japanese-themed private garden designed by Ottawa landscape designer Welwyn Wong.
There’s a three-room guest suite on the lower level, where nine-foot ceilings and lots of windows underscore Parsons’ abhorrence of basements. The home’s mechanical guts, including the whole-house HEPA filter system and the radiant heat setup for the slate and marble floors, are also on this level.
As well, it contains a fitness centre with an indoor virtual golf course.
In a box, outside the fitness centre where it awaits installation, is a Lutron wireless light control system. The programmable setup will let Parsons control indoor and outdoor lighting from any room or from his vehicle.
He eagerly fishes out one of the wallmounted switches to show me, already imagining how cool it will be to set his home’s mood by punching just a button or two. It will complement the home’s dynamic sound system.
Last stop on this magical tour are the garages: two three-bay units, one on each side of the house and both with high ceilings and excellent lighting. One houses his red 1989 Jaguar XJS convertible and Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic motorcycle. The other, empty at present, includes a wheel- chair ramp into the house. Both have radiant heat floors, says Parsons, turning to ask, “Have you ever done work on your car lying on the floor? My friends can come and work on their cars without freezing.”
Asked what he most likes about his home, Parsons says, “There’s so much I like, but it’s really the roominess, the open space. Between Christmas and New Year’s, nobody has to worry about driving home. My friends bring their pyjamas and we have a sleepover.”
Sleepovers are likely the major link between Parsons’ single life and dads with young families. Except gin and tonic is likely the drink of choice at his place, while apple juice is probably on the menu to settle down son or daughter’s young visitors.