Design

Design-builder sets down roots in Hintonburg with compact family home on vacant side lot

Designing and building was his destiny. When asked how he got into the business, Konrad Gates says simply that he was surrounded by construction from childhood. “My dad was one of the early ‘flippers’ — he has been renovating and flipping since the 1970s.”

And so Gates grew up learning the tricks of the trade, launching his own business in Almonte 15 years ago before moving to Ottawa a few years later. His company, built, specializes in urban infill — smart, modern singles and semi-detached houses that match the character and scale of older neighbourhoods. His own home is a tidy two-storey single built on a narrow side lot in Hintonburg, a compact house perfectly suited to a busy family of four.

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Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

“The tight lot forces you to build a certain way,” he explains as he surveys the main floor, in which a sunny open-concept living room, dining room, and kitchen flow from front to back. Building codes restrict the windows on the sides of the house, so Gates installed floor-to-ceiling glass at the front and back to bring in light. Today, he refers to the living room window, which faces the street, as “our giant TV,” while the kitchen window looks out over the backyard where his children play, meeting up with neighbourhood friends through Hintonburg’s leafy back lanes.

The kitchen is the heart of the main floor, anchored by a generous island whose functions morph as the day progresses. While it starts the day as a bustling breakfast spot, it quickly transforms into a workstation for Gates and his wife, Theresa Hurtubise, who set up computers and get down to work once their children leave for school. From there, it becomes a dinner prep centre and, finally, a place to do homework and craft projects.

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Chosen by Hurtubise, the rich gold of the upper cabinetry 
complements the deep brown of the walnut used for the lower cabinetry. Minimalist pendant lights were selected to ensure 
a clear view from the front to the back of the house. Minimalist pendant lights were selected to ensure 
a clear view from the front to the back of the house. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

Gates calls the kitchen a “throwback,” noting that he built all the cabinetry on-site before installing it — just as he remembers his father doing when he was a child.

Here, warm walnut cabinetry contrasts beautifully with the lighter hand-scraped white oak floors, the gold of the upper cabinets providing a pretty pop of colour. Now look up. Hurtubise, a lover of fine lighting, created the original pendant lights in the kitchen and dining room, crafting them from DIY lighting kits that she sourced online or rejigging fixtures to function in new ways.

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The You Make It chandelier from Lindsey Adelman Studio allowed Theresa Hurtubise to design her own custom configuration, then order the parts and assemble it when 
they arrived in the mail. The You Make It chandelier from Lindsey Adelman Studio allowed Theresa Hurtubise to design her own custom configuration, then order the parts and assemble it when 
they arrived in the mail The engineered floor, of hand-scraped white oak, has a pleasing texture for bare feet and is also very forgiving of scrapes and dents. A classic Eames table boasts a resilient laminate top. The floor-to-ceiling window provides a connection to the street, with the owners likening it to “a giant TV”. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen

In the dining room, a picture wall is a simple way to display a changing array of artwork and photography with sentimental value — here the couple paired fine art with family heirlooms, kids’ drawings, and family photos. The look is both elegant and comfortable, reflecting the sensibility of a busy couple who appreciate design and beauty while understanding that a house should be lived in and loved.

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Coral tile adds a punch of colour and reminds Hurtubise of her grandmother, whose kitchen featured Arborite counters in a similar shade. Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen