Whistler in the valleyPublished on March 11, 2013

  • Gourmet kitchen by Kitchen Craft

  • Gregg and Lauren

  • The stone fireplace warms up dramatic open-concept space on the main floor

  • Rustic elements set the tone in the entry

Looking out at the snowy treetops of spruce and pine from the expansive beauty of his new timber-frame house, Gregg McCabe can easily imagine that he's back in an upscale ski chalet in Whistler, B.C. After working and snowboarding there in his post-college years, this is exactly what Gregg intended when he built a tribute to his love of west-coast architecture, timber structure and wide-open spaces.


There are no mountainous backdrops or vast ocean vistas in Corkery, near Carp, but that did not stop the enthusiastic 35-year-old from relocating the feel of west-coast living to the Ottawa Valley. The hybrid version of a timber home was conceptualized and designed by Gregg with the expert help of his brother Tucker McCabe, who was the lead builder and has a custom home business. With some additional input from his fiancée, Lauren Bowler, the house plans were drawn up by Doyle Homes.

"It's an extremely unique and very customized home in a west-coast style that you don't see much of here," says Gregg who is part-owner of the Crazy Horse in Kanata.

He explains that the home is a hybrid of sorts because, at 3,500 square feet, a full timber-frame structure would be too expensive. So it was built as a half-timbered frame in eastern white pine with some conventional stud-frame construction. The combination of a high-peaked, multi-gabled steel roof with cedar wall shingles and attractive cultured-stone detailing, creates a stunning exterior. A wrap-around porch of western red cedar leads to a three-season living area and a deck to maximize two private acres of landscaped and natural surroundings.


Inside, Gregg considers the most impressive central feature to be the soaring two-storey stone fireplace in the great room. "My brother and I came up with the design together and the mantle is really neat - it's a huge hand-hewn beam from a 1880s barn that still has the original hatchet marks."

Crafted in Eldorado limestone, the dramatic fireplace is a very efficient heating unit that draws you to its warmth and grandeur. It anchors a wide-open space that highlights the majestic timber architecture rising to the pine beams and rafters of the upper loft level, where three bedrooms and two bathrooms are housed. A sweeping loft balcony overlooks the golden glow of the area below, which includes a guest suite and bathroom, the great room, dining room and a magnificent kitchen.

Gregg and Lauren, who is a chef, had full control over the design of the kitchen with brown and black Omega cabinetry by Kitchen Craft. They picked out a professional style GE Monogram gas range that is framed by arched stonework in the same limestone as the fireplace. It also has an added wooden barn mantle, which was inspired by Gregg's favourite timber home magazine. Another interesting feature is a convenient pot-filling tap on the tiled backsplash behind the stove.

A centre island with a black copper-flecked granite counter, sink and built-in butcher block, sits on hand-scraped hardwood flooring from Antique Impressions. The aged look of the floor is repeated in the older-style pine doors. Overall, the modern elements of the kitchen with areas of white wall space act to offset and showcase the knotty-wood character of the home.

Balancing the warmth of timber architecture with clean, contemporary lines is another aspect of hybrid design that appealed to Gregg. "We wanted the main part of the house to be rustic with wood and stone, and other areas to be more contemporary as a contrast."

This effect is seen in the master ensuite where Gregg aimed for a sleek, modern look with rustic elements. A large glass shower unit with body jets and a steam system, plus a sunken Jacuzzi tub, blend with wood-framed windows and what appears to be antiqued-plank flooring. But, the "wood" is actually ceramic tiles with under-floor heating. 

With a house that is also smart-wired for home automation control from an iPad and phone, it seems that Gregg has united the best of both urban conveniences and rustic comfort. On a snowy day, there is surely no better place to indulge in memories of a Whistler wonderland than from the timber-framed glory of his own ski home in the Ottawa Valley.

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