Lakeside retreat in Canada

Extreme climate-beating lakeside retreat

Using sintered stone, this home has been created to survive Canada's extreme weather conditions

By Hugh Metcalf |

Impactful but not imposing, this captivating, self build lakeside retreat has been designed to withstand all weathers.

Far from your average lakeside holiday home, this 17,222 square foot build is located on the picturesque shoreline of Lake Huron – approximately one hour from London, Ontario.

Intended to be a family retreat for the homeowners to enjoy year round, architects from SAOTA in Cape Town, South Africa, in collaboration with Ontario-based firm, matter architectural studio inc, were briefed with bringing a hard-wearing yet harmonious lakeside home to life.

large black self build home in canada - grand designs lakeside retreat

Photo: Adam Letch

Made of strong stuff

Building a home that was visually captivating, while also being able to withstand Canada’s extreme weather conditions, was of the utmost importance to the homeowners.

In order to achieve this, Neolith was specified for both the exterior and interior of the home. This sintered stone is highly durable, low-maintenance, and scratch and tag resistant – perfect for a home surrounded by wilderness.

‘Faced with the challenge of working in an environment as demanding as this one, the product choice and its longevity were critical,’ says SAOTA architect and designer, Johan Basson. ‘When the client, in collaboration with Ontario Panelization, introduced us to Neolith, we immediately fell in love with the brand and its wide variety of high-quality finishes, as well as, of course, its durability.’

huge black self build home in canada - grand designs

Photo: Adam Letch

A free-flowing space

Intended as a space for entertaining and bringing the whole family together, ensuring that the property had a fluid and laid-back feel was crucial. The homeowners envisaged an open-plan ground floor, but still felt that it was crucial for there to be a sense of structure and order throughout.

To achieve this, separate rooms were swapped for spaces better more reminiscent of interlocking segments seamlessly seeping into each other – giving a casual and effortless feel to the property.

lakeside retreat

Photo: Adam Letch

Complementary yet captivating

Intent on the property looking impactful yet at home amongst its serene surroundings, the entire exterior is clad in Neolith, due to its similarity in appearance to elements found in nature.

Drawing on the seasons, architects Bullivant and Basson of SAOTA used lighter hue, creamy Strata Argentum, to blend in with the snowy landscape in the winter and bright skies in the summer, and the darker charcoal Nero Zimbabwe to match the lower-level forest and the rest of the surrounding environment.

interior of large self build home in canada - grand designs

Photo: Adam Letch

A modern and monochrome interior

Stylish and contemporary, the interior colour palette is a subtle representation of the exterior, with a strategic balance of light and dark present throughout.

The designers used Neolith in Strata Argentum for the floors, opted for Krater to achieve the blackened metal look of the fireplaces and external screens, and then accessorised with earthy tones, light woods, and furniture upholstered in a range of fabrics to add warmth to this family-oriented space.

large self build home in canada with incredible views - grand designs lakeside retreat

Photo: Adam Letch

Scenic vistas

With such stunning surroundings, capitalising on the beautiful lake views was a must for the architects and designers, with those splashing about in the pool or reclining on the garden terrace’s sunbeds able to enjoy the picturesque scenery uninterrupted.

Working to the sun’s schedule, the property has also been designed and positioned so that dramatic sunset views can be enjoyed from the living room in summer.