Behind a half wall, a walkway leads around one side of this modern bungalow into a cozy lanai and a secluded courtyard. There, you spot not only the main entry but, on your right, floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal the spacious main living area. Thanks to extensive glazing, the view extends through the ground floor and to the backyard.
That walk to the main door is a delightful journey encapsulating what architect Mateusz Nowacki calls the home’s “unexpected narrative.” Nowacki designed the house in a new Manotick neighbourhood for his brother and sister-in-law, incorporating their fondness for Nordic minimalism and creating “playful moments” throughout.
“We gave Mateusz free rein,” says his brother, Lukasz Nowacki, a project manager with the family business Nowacki Homes. Like his younger, Toronto-based brother, Lukasz is enthusiastic and voluble.
“We wanted the house to feel very light, very airy,” says Lukasz’s wife, Krystal Nowacki, a Montessori teacher. “So much thought was put into this house.”
Light and airy it is, thanks in part to the home’s mostly white interior, its pale oak floors, and those strategically placed windows that ensure privacy from the road and an abundance of daylight. The 3,750-square-foot dwelling, with its distinct living and sleeping areas, could also be described as simple, functional, and seamless. After nearly a year of living in the home with their young daughters, Kaia and Mischa, they also say that it supports the closeness they seek as a family.
When explaining their wishes for their new home, the couple told Mateusz, “build something that feels personal to us and embodies us,” recalls the architect. “They had this property in mind and wanted something that fosters family connectivity and felt tight and organized.”
Organization and family relationships are manifested everywhere, from the tidy, nearly invisible closets built into the hallway outside the bedrooms to the carefully planned sight lines in the main living area that allow Krystal to keep an eye on the children when she’s working in the kitchen.
Everything about the home also seems to embody its owners’ personalities.
Outside, for example, the home feels comfortable with its surroundings, as does the Nowacki family. Asymmetrical steel roofs lend the home a physical modesty by making it appear lighter than one solid, dominating roofline would. The natural look of the wood cladding and brick together with minimal detail- ing help blend the structure with the surrounding neighbourhood.
The lanai, two courtyards, and a rear veranda further cement the connection with the large, pie-shaped lot.
Inside, the energy-efficient home is all about simple, linear forms that please the senses. It feels liberating compared to the fussy, self-conscious design of some houses. Window and door trim are almost non-existent, ceilings are high; each space has a clear purpose. “The house breathes,” says Lukasz.
Open and bright, the kitchen is anchored by a black hood fan. Features like a coffee-making cupboard that minimizes noise and mess epitomize the owners’ preferences.
“We like things clean,” says Lukasz. “We don’t like clutter,” adds Krystal with a firm smile. The adjacent informal dining room has a dropped black ceiling, helping make the open space feel more intimate.
Textured wood panelling in the living room, like the other splashes of wood inside, echoes the home’s exterior and reveals a special richness when daylight strikes it.
Daylight was a key consideration when designing the interior, just as it was when envisioning the exterior. The kitchen, for example, in keeping with the home’s “unexpected narrative,” responds vividly to the light that changes throughout the day. “As the sunlight moves around the house you get this nice quality of light that bathes the house in a warm hue,” says Mateusz. “Light is free; you just have to know how to use it.”
Elsewhere in the bungalow, the bedrooms are quiet and simple and the garage is a pristine home for Lukasz’s prized high-performance hobby cars.
There are also favourite spaces. For Lukasz, it’s a cozy spot by the front entrance where a chair and morning light make it ideal for greeting the day with a coffee.
For Krystal, it’s the living room fireplace with its woody wall above. “I’m drawn to the fireplace. I feel like I’m in a cabin.”