GREAT SPACE: A renovation inspired by the colour and architecture of the Wakefield covered bridge

This story appears in the September edition of Ottawa Magazine, on newsstands now. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

By Barbara Sibbald; Photography by – Christian Lalonde

The spacious ground floor deck is ideal for entertaining, while the large upper cantilevered balcony offers a more intimate outdoor space. The small balcony above the main deck is conducive to meditation and offers a forest view. The outside cedar cladding from the original cottage was reused. “We tried to recycle whatever we could,” says Rogers.

The first thing Dianne Rogers did when she bought her house on the Gatineau River some eight years ago was to walk over to Wakefield’s famous red covered bridge and scrape off a small chip of paint. That shade became a key accent in her new home and, during a major renovation a few years later, morphed into the colour focal point. The bridge itself inspired the design.

A view of the Wakefield covered bridge, which inspired both the colour scheme and architecture of this cottage-home.

A compact 800 square feet, the original house, just eight metres from the riverbank and within sight of the covered bridge, was more of a cottage.

Rogers, who has four adult children and loves to socialize, knew she wanted a larger and more functional design that would emphasize expansive views of the river and bridge.

“I wanted an aesthetic that was less cottage and more home, something more grown-up,” says Rogers, who is a travelling consultant in health and social services.

She also wanted to make a visual statement about her aesthetic values and worked with designer Doug Dawson to incorporate her love of the bridge and East-meets-West sensibility into the design. “I was his muse.”

During the seven months of construction, the roof was lifted, the stairs were realigned, and the ground floor was rearranged, with a more practical kitchen at its centre that opens up to both a sitting area and a large dining room. The house now measures 1,100 square feet, with more than another 500 in decks and balconies. The bridge red is used in tasteful doses, both outside and in, including on pillars and door accents. And the overall design mirrors the covered bridge, with a “bridge” that runs from the parking area into the entry floor and then through the first floor and straight out, practically over the river, onto a canti-levered deck with its gorgeous views.

Light floods the entry-level sitting room, while the warm wood and red touches heat things up inside. The coffee table is actually an antique blanket box. Asian-inspired sliding glass doors close off the bedroom when need be. The entry-level bridge is visible through the window.

Her favourite feature? The ambience, says Rogers, who moved into her renewed home in April 2011. “The oversize windows and doors take me outside the house when I’m inside. I feel as if I’m on a houseboat.” She also adores the architectural details, including rough-hewn timber beams, which were recycled from a hangar at Uplands airport; bright red posts; an exquisite handrail; and marine-inspired light fixtures. “All the textures and colours make my heart sing.”

“My revolutionary kitchen,” says Rogers with a laugh, referring to the red Abstrakt cabinets from Ikea. The countertops are Ikea butcher block, and the six-burner gas stove makes cooking for a crowd a whole lot easier.