guest post - mason studio

Today, I'm happy to hand over the reins to one half of the design duo behind Mason Studio - Ashley Rumsey. You might have seen her and her partner, Stanley Sun's work at the Interior Design Show in Toronto earlier this year. Their feature exhibit, "Our Home and Native Land" was a huge success. Like my other recent visitors, Ashley and Stanley are both graduates of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. I think you're going to enjoy this post - isn't it everyone's dream to build their own house from the ground up? It’s always been a dream of mine to build my own house. This spring, I’ll be well on my way to making it a reality.

My partner Matty has a beautiful piece of property in the Kawarthas; an area about an hour and a half outside of Toronto where locals live in quaint modest houses on winding country roads and city-folk migrate to rustic summer cottages in search of quiet lakes and overbearing maple trees. It’s a beautiful and special place for us both.

For years, we have been dreaming and scheming about what we could do on the 24 acre wooded piece of property. Last year, we decided it was time to stop dreaming, and start working. We spent the year getting the property ready for construction (and by ‘we’ I mean mostly ‘he’) which included putting in a driveway and bringing in electrical service from the main road, clearing the trees and digging into the side of the hill where the house will sit.

(Image 1, our own photos)

Once May rolls around we will begin construction of the house itself, which means, we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) have a lot of design decisions to make. You would think that being an interior designer would make the process of working on your own project easier. Not true. I’ve come to realise that having yourself (and your spouse) as a client makes decision-making… well let’s just say, difficult.  When you’re building from scratch, there are few constraints and endless possibilities. We also plan on doing the majority of construction ourselves (with the help of bribed friends and family) which means our decisions have to be feasible from a construction and a budget point of view.

image 2

This vacation home in Michigan City, Indiana appeared in Azure Magazine’s annual Houses issue a few years ago, designed by Brininstool + Lynch. It kicked off our initial ideas for the building keeping one face of the house relatively solid while the south facing façade features expansive windows and sliding glass doors.

image 3

This chalet in Collingwood by Architect AKB has been a good source of inspiration for us because of the use of materials, the simple shapes, and the houses ability to have a modern point of view in a rural environment. The red-cedar siding, dark window frames and weathered copper roof speaks to a Canadian vernacular that gets me excited.

image 4

Another project by the same architect also located in Ontario is interesting to me. I love that the house is bold and decidedly minimal, yet the construction techniques, design details and material selection is based on a budget-friendly low-maintenance mentality. The strikingly stark interior may be a touch too minimal, but I fully appreciate the simple geometry, and clean detailing.

(image 5, our own photo)

This is how our property looks right now. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I couldn’t be more excited.