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Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Homeowner – Jun/Jul2016

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Homeowner - Jun/Jul2016

Despite personal style preferences, go for products that stand the test of time.

I have a confession to make: I’m not crazy about some of the houses I’ve built over the years. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all solidly built and met as many of my clients’ needs as we could with the budget they had. It’s the design itself that, in some cases, just doesn’t suit my tastes.


I’m a traditionalist at heart. For my own house, I built in the New England Colonial style, with dormer windows, cedar shingles on the roof, and a mix of stone and horizontal wooden siding on the exterior. On the inside, there is a lot of trim work, from the coffered ceilings down to the wainscotting and large baseboards.

There are a number of aspects of modern designs that I do like, such as the large, open-concept plans. For my next house, I’d probably go for a bit more of a transitional look, with less trim and more clean lines. But there are limits.

I find with a lot of modern designs they try to include too many materials on the front of the house. There’s a bit of stucco, some stone, different types of siding, and it gets to be too much.

Sometimes, the modern material choices can actually cheapen the look of the house. There was one house next door to where we were working recently that we called the Tuna Can. It was wrapped in this industrial-looking corrugated steel that made it look exactly like a can of tuna.

Jim’s Pick

Stone veneers combine the look and durability of real stone without the weight and difficulty to work with. One line that I really like working with is Canadian-made StoneRox.


Last issue, I wrote about the tiny house trend. One technique people are using to build tiny spaces is to repurpose old shipping containers. Truth be told, I’m not crazy about the look of that. But my bigger concern would be that someone throws some wheels on either end and drives away with your house!

Having a good architect and/or designer on the team that understands your style and tastes is important, particularly if you’re considering a more modern design.

Regardless of your preferred style, when building a new house or undergoing major exterior renovations on an existing one, you’re going to want the work to last. On the following pages are some of my favourite choices for long-lasting building materials to use.


Jim Caruk – Renovation Editor

I look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts? Email