As our thoughts turn to spring, what better way to kick off the new season than a trip to the National Home Show/Canada Blooms event (Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place) that runs to March 20.
There is something for everybody at this year’s show — from the 180-sq.ft. ‘Tiny House’ to the 4,600-sq. ft. ‘Future Dream Home’ — all bases would appear to be covered.
But it was a behind-the-scenes look that I found to be the most revealing.
Before the scheduled opening of the show last Friday at 10:00, I had a chance to meet with many of the builders and designers of the Future Dream Home, a cutting edge home with the latest in smart-home technologies and environmentally friendly features.
There was a slight problem though, the Future Dream Home had not been completed in time for the show to open. So, what I saw were crews of workers working feverishly behind a fenced off area. The only way for me to see it was to wear construction boots and a hard hat (which I borrowed from one of the workers, seriously!)
I would have loved to have seen this dream home in its finished state, but I did learn something — if anything, my planned tour would instead become a lesson on how much goes into building a new home, let alone one that is a home of the future.
Dream homes are an annual tradition at this show. And with its 4,600 square feet of absolute beauty and stunning design, this one was the most ambitious ever. Drawing back to nature, the Future Dream Home is meant to bring the outside in — the stunning, panoramic oversized 8-foot by 10-foot window panels make it feel very inviting. And the home’s design is exquisite, from the selection of organic and natural materials throughout, to the opulent bath tub made of imported crushed volcanic limestone with its special heat-retention characteristics and the water-fountain wall in the front foyer — complete with live plants.
Lesson learned: Building a beautiful home is hard work and it involves a lot of people.
Leading me on the behind-the-scenes tour was project manager, Maria Perketa, owner of her own design firm, and member of a design dream team which includes Nicholas Rosaci, Erica Gelman and builder/visionary Michael Upshall. From her perspective, it’s the team approach that makes it work and is becoming the way all homes are built.
It used to be builders, designers and suppliers would work in isolation and operate in silos, “now we share our knowledge like never before,” she says. Communications is everything and feedback has become the all-important part of the process.
This teamwork shows up, for example, in how everything needs to be interconnected, from pre-wiring the media room, to home control and monitoring systems, to any of a number of a home’s safety features.
Managing all of that, well that’s where the real work begins for Perketa, who in the course of our interview, had been interrupted a few times to field urgent questions from the workers. If building a beautiful home is hard work, my second lesson of the day was, then so is renovating one.
(Check out her weekly series La Dolce Debbie on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. where she renovates a ‘dream’Tuscany home. The results are stunning.)
Among her challenges was managing a crew of 80 workers over the five years it took to do the restoration, and working in unfamiliar country. Language was only one of the issues.
Everybody is familiar with Debbie Travis, famous TV personality and celebrity designer. She tells me the Tuscany renovation was more about being a project manager, dealing with all kinds of unforeseen circumstance and painstaking hard work that at times left her exhausted.
The lesson in all this? Yes, go ahead and dare to dream big, but building or renovating that dream home is — more than anything — a lot of hard work. Just ask Maria or Debbie.
About the Author: Martin Slofstra is Editor of The Toronto Sun’s New Homes and Condos Section