SLIMMING DOWN IN SANDY HILL
Custom infill packs a lot of space into a 13-foot-wide home
Goal: To build your own custom home in Sandy Hill Hurdle: Your lot is all of 21 feet wide
Solution: Think skinny, as in a house that’s barely more than 13 feet wide inside
Thinking svelte is exactly what Nicolas Delahousse and Chantal Rioux did. Amazingly, thanks to the design wizardry of architect and family friend William Ritcey and their own ideas, the couple has packed three bedrooms, twoand-a-half baths, an open-concept kitchen, dining and living area, a loft, a bunch of balconies, and some great views of their neighbourhood into 1,500 square feet with a rustic modern theme.
Add all the natural daylight that floods the home plus features such as the 16-foot ceiling in the living room, and you’re barely aware that you’re inside what is, in reality, a very narrow home.
It didn’t start out quite that slender.
Delahousse, a real estate adviser with the City of Ottawa, owns the six-unit apartment building next door and originally thought of building on to it for a slightly wider home. He did a rough design of what he and Rioux wanted using Google’s SketchUp, but when he showed it to Ritcey, the architect said he thought there’d be room for a detached house.
Ritcey took the rough design to a full concept. Once a firm plan was in place, Delahousse freed up the lot by demolishing a one-bedroom addition on the apartment building that stood in the way of where he wanted to build.
Construction started on their home in the summer of 2013. The couple, both 35 years old and with no children, took possession last spring.
While the two are now happy as clams, there were bumps and trepidations along the way. For example, Delahousse at one point wondered what he’d gotten into and whether he was building a totally dysfunctional house. Fortunately, he says, he, Rioux, Ritcey and contractor Voyo Tomic of V. Tomic Construction meshed well and ironed out problems as they appeared.
Delahousse also credits his parents, who live a couple of blocks away, with being a great support. “We talked about crises over many Sunday dinners. It was a real family project.”
Rioux, a nurse practitioner who’s lived mostly in Sandy Hill for the past nine years, says she and her partner are delighted with the end results. “We enjoy the downtown feel.”
Delahousse, also a longtime resident of the neighbourhood, says, “It’s a small space but a bright space with nice views.” People, he adds, “have preconceived ideas about what they need and want. The reality is, you adapt to the space and make it yours.”