Home built to measure fits all needs
BY PHILLIPA RISPIN
PHOTOGRAPHY: ADRIEN WILLIAMS
STYLING: DENISE PALISAITIS
Made to measure: what could be more wonderful in a home? Countertops set to your height, light switches at the perfect spot on the wall, windows situated to offer a great view. It’s those special touches that make a house individual, that make it home. Natalie Cinman and Denis Toupin are a couple who dwell happily in a made-to-measure house.
Because Natalie spends much of her time in a wheelchair, ordinary interior design standards do not address her needs, not only in terms of such things as accessibility – light switch placement, for example, but also in maneuverability – having room to roll from cooktop to fridge while Denis is chopping vegetables at the island.
The couple had several years to think about their needs and desires before building their home in Pierrefonds-Roxboro. The information-gathering began even earlier for Natalie as she grew up learning to negotiate her environment. Her mother adapted their home, and when Natalie was 12, an occupational therapist taught her ways of handling daily tasks. Then, when Natalie and Denis wed, Denis’ mother adapted the family home, a duplex, for them.
Much of the new 1,555-square-foot home does follow the principles of universal design, the concept that all environments should be as accessible and functional as possible for people of all abilities. The process in Natalie’s and Denis’ home begins outside, with no change in level between the asphalt of the carport, the pavers in front of the door, and the threshold between outdoors and in.
Indoors, the open-concept floor plan reigns. Smooth rolling is assured with pocket doors that slide easily out of the way, floors clear of rugs, and room to maneuver around furniture. The ensuite master bathroom has his-and-hers showerheads and a flip-down seat for Natalie. In the kitchen, instead of a deep and inaccessible interior corner where two runs of kitchen cabinets meet, there’s an angled pantry that the wheelchair rolls into.
But this is a home, not just a case study in accessibility. The 10-foot ceilings, large windows, and uncluttered decor would make any house feel airy and bright. The master bathroom features dual sinks, just what any couple needs. They’re quite sociable and they, along with Lexi the poodle, often welcome guests.
“I like it when we entertain, because I can be cooking and still see our friends,” says Natalie.
Apart from accessibility, the couple also considered sustainability. Theirs is a Novoclimat 2.0-certified home, built by Maisons Laprise, which specializes in pre-engineered home systems.
Denis and Natalie have been in their new, made-to-order home for six months and have settled in happily.
“I love this whole house, the fluidity,” says Natalie. “I love that it’s accessible but doesn’t look like a handicapped person’s house. It looks like what it is: a young couple’s house.”