A cre­ative per­fec­tion­ist imag­ines his ideal house and pulls out all the stops to make it hap­pen

Within min­utes of meet­ing Charles Ar­mand Turpin, two things are im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous; he wears his pas­sions on his sleeve, and flu­id­ity is a cen­tral tenet of how he lives.

His house in Aylmer sits on the shore of the Ot­tawa River. It’s an un­likely struc­ture, sur­rounded by prop­er­ties best de­scribed as “big­house pre­dictable” — lots of garages, pris­tine land­scap­ing, dozens of rooms. In con­trast, Charles is all about liv­ing in, and with, na­ture. Sim­ple, clean lines al­low na­ture to en­ter the space, while his liv­ing area spills out­side onto mul­ti­ple decks built near the shore­line. “I wanted the feel­ing of be­ing in a ca­bane,” he says of the de­sign. “My idea was to stream­line every­thing, to be re­ally min­i­mal­ist.”

Though he didn’t study de­sign, as the owner of an en­gi­neer­ing ar­chi­tec­tural firm that spe­cial­izes in ex­te­rior walls, Charles gets lots of in­spi­ra­tion and ideas from his re­search on be­half of clients. He’s also some­thing of a Re­nais­sance man: you can guess that if an ar­chi­tect or de­signer said to him, “For­get it, it’s im­pos­si­ble,” Charles would find a way to make it hap­pen.

This house is no larger than it needs to be — he shares it with his girl­friend and a posse of res­cue dogs that roam around at will. But its ef­fi­ciency of de­sign, lack of walls, and a flow­ing ceil­ing com­bine to make it feel vast.

The kitchen is small but boasts every­thing you could ask for in terms of con­ve­nience. “I hate a kitchen where every­thing is on the counter,” says Charles. Dishes, cook­ware, and dried goods are stored be­hind sleek cus­tom doors. Each as­pect has been in­stalled with im­mense at­ten­tion to de­tail, from Stone­glass coun­ters — think Co­rian meets gran­ite meets glass — to a trough-like stain­less sink that has a se­cond in­ner sink for small jobs and in­ter­change­able cut­ting boards that fit over the basins.

Sur­rounded by curved glass, the din­ing area is a marvel of en­gi­neer­ing. It had to be de­signed to sup­port the weight of the se­cond-level open-air deck; snow load was a ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion. But Charles’s spe­cialty, af­ter all, is struc­tural glass, and he came up with a plan to man­u­fac­ture the wall so that it could han­dle the weight.

Tucked away be­hind the kitchen is a fu­tur­is­tic pow­der room with an au­to­mated pocket door of sand­blasted glass and one all-glass wall that al­lows guests to take a seat on the com­mode and feel as though they’re deep in the for­est. The room is out­fit­ted with a su­per-ef­fi­cient elec­tric toi­let — at the push of a but­ton, waste is swept away, and the unit uses less wa­ter than con­ven­tional toi­lets. A ro­tat­ing cab­i­net hides such ne­ces­si­ties as soaps and hand tow­els.

Re­mote con­trols fig­ure promi­nently in Charles’s world. There’s a hid­den el­e­va­tor that opens into the hall­way ad­join­ing the kitchen and pow­der room — he gets a kick out of sur­pris­ing vis­i­tors by open­ing the door re­motely. The plat­form de­scends to the base­ment, which con­tains all the me­chan­i­cal work­ings for the house, in­clud­ing a trough and two sump pumps to han­dle flood­ing — some­thing that many home­own­ers along the river have had to deal with in re­cent years.

He also uses a re­mote con­trol to lower a wall in the ex­tended liv­ing room, bi­sect­ing the space into two in­de­pen­dent sec­tions, one a step higher than the other. And while much of the house fea­tures muted colours, his “up­per” liv­ing room bursts with pinks, or­anges, and

reds, cour­tesy of the iconic Roche Bobois seat­ing. Pink light­ing glows around the perime­ter of the ceil­ing, and an Artemide alu­minum sculp­ture re­flects a dis­tor­tion of every­thing go­ing on be­low.

While the in­te­rior brings na­ture in, the ex­te­rior feels like an ex­ten­sion of the in­doors. Dis­creet light­ing makes for a mag­i­cal at­mos­phere af­ter dark. “It’s mes­mer­iz­ing at night,” says Charles, look­ing out over the ex­panse of river. The cen­tral fo­cus of the out­door liv­ing area is an in­fin­ity wad­ing pool. With am­ple places to sit, think, and con­verse, the space is per­fect for Charles’ med­i­ta­tion prac­tice.

When he started build­ing his ever-evolv­ing home in 1999, the de­sign was un­con­ven­tional. “I ac­tu­ally drafted the house in 15 min­utes,” he says. “Back then, it was off the charts.” Al­most two decades later, it re­mains on the cut­ting edge, with Charles con­tin­u­ally tweak­ing the fine de­tails while plan­ning big al­ter­ations as time per­mits. With ideas that unite his love of tech­nol­ogy with an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the out­doors, this big thinker has made a unique home that gives his guests the feel­ing they’re vis­it­ing the Jet­sons on a camp­ing trip.

One can un­der­stand why Charles Ar­mand Turpin doesn’t sub­scribe to the no­tion that you need to be an ex­pert to draw up your dreams. He has a vi­sion, and he’ll see it through. The many pro­fes­sion­als who work with him are happy to go along for the ride. “I can’t trust any­body else to come up with a de­sign,” he says. “They can’t cap­ture my emo­tion.”

Fac­ing page Pretty in pink — evening light­ing and an ever-chang­ing seat­ing ar­range­ment made up of iconic Roche Bobois so­fas in­vites lin­ger­ing on cool evenings Above A cus­tom ban­quette fol­lows the lines of a spe­cially fab­ri­cated curved wall of win­dows...

Left Abun­dant glaz­ing al­lows light to sat­u­rate the in­te­rior. At night, sub­tle light­ing pro­vides a wel­com­ing feel, while an open-air din­ing area makes the most of sum­mer evenings

Top An in­fin­ity pool ap­pears to spill into the Ot­tawa River and pro­vides am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to sit and med­i­tate

Above In the kitchen, every­thing is stream­lined to maximize stor­age and pre­vent clut­ter. The cus­tom trough sink is out­fit­ted with sev­eral cut­ting boards, while lower draw­ers con­tain dish­ware, cut­lery, and cook­ware

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