McKay Lake Custom Residence

A Garden Style Forever House

Planned in 1864 in the Picturesque tradition of 18th century England, Rockcliffe Park is a showcase of fastidiously maintained estate properties with custom residences dating back to the early 1900’s. Many lots in the Park enjoy views to the Ottawa River, McKay Lake and the Beechwood escarpment and in more progressive cases, the homes are configured and designed to harness those views. Homes in the neighbourhood range in style from Georgian Revival, Tudor Revival, Arts and Crafts and Modernist. This range of styles represents a unique context for this address, and so the home’s design takes cues from both traditional and modern examples, as well as the landscape itself.

Concept renderings

The home was designed as a “forever house” for a young thoughtful professional couple with a young family. Order, aesthetics and art were all very important in ensuring the overall design was both mindful for family day-to-day living, as well as flexible for entertaining. Exterior living spaces were designed to be a seamless extension of the interior with similar finishes and furniture that expressed the same aesthetic and quality of the interior.


In keeping with Rockcliffe Park’s “garden” style, the landscape design for this home (designed by Sharanne Paquette) is well thought out, juxtaposing curvilinear garden edges with a jagged pathway of stone paving slabs in an orientation matching the floor plan of the home. A combination of architectural and landscape lighting brings life to the grounds after the sun sets.

A custom steelwork gate implies a secure point of access to the home’s back door pathway, and is complemented by a bent steel address monument at the front pathway which announces the home’s main entrance. The unfinished metal is further referenced in the landscaping edges around the house, complementing the abundance of copper on the building’s exterior.

The building itself is expressed in a contemporary style with a flat-roof, articulated stacked massing with large horizontal stone walls extending into the landscape, floor to ceiling glazing, second floor cantilevers and contemporary exterior materials. The material palette includes large glazed walls assembled within architectural copper paneling, and a light natural stone base. The underside of canopies and roofs are clad in natural cedar wood soffits. Wood accents are also found elsewhere on the façade and landscape elements.

With an underlying goal of enlivening the living experience through connections with the exterior, a rooftop patio is provided at the highest roof level, and is accessible via a motorized skylight/roof hatch. This provides convenient roof access at the push of a button, eliminating a penthouse which would have projected above the rooftop, increasing the building’s perceived height. This innovation yields a bungalow expression from the west end of the property.

Interiors are exquisitely designed by 2H Interior Design, with finishes and furnishings which are rich in texture but visually gentle with neutral colour tones and light woods. Designed for avid cooks, the kitchen is the heart of the house and includes an adjacent pantry to absorb additional clutter and appliances. The dining and living areas were designed for entertaining, with the versatility to host dinners of 8 to 24 people.

The main living spaces are filled with texture, muted tones and walls of limestone and oversized metallic tiles. A three-storey screen of brass and blackened steel delineates the open staircase and is a focal point in the house, casting subtle shadows throughout the day.

Renderings of the Main Stair

Adjacent to the front entry at the lower level, a “wine room” provides a space for entertaining, with dark moody finishes, a large worn table and full views of the climate controlled wine collection. Private office spaces were detailed to meet work-at-home needs and personal tastes.

Sustainable Features

  • Flat roofs are greened with landscaped terraces, reducing the heat island effect.
  • Predominantly natural materials inside and out, including many locally sourced
  • Filtered/indirect natural light is promoted throughout the home while controlling heat gain
  • Large overhangs control direct sunlight at the ground floor while maximizing views and indoor-outdoor connection
  • The south facing façade employs vertical copper fins at the second floor to reduce direct sun exposure without impeding views
  • Thermal assemblies, building systems and fixtures exceed industry standards

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