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Onelook Photography

38 Consecon St., Wellington, Ont.

Asking Price: $2,200,000

Taxes: $1,808.75 (2022)

Lot Size: 81.99 by 280 feet

Agent: Rob Plomer, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.

The backstory

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A staircase heads straight upstairs from the entrance, on the left side is a formal sitting area with original fireplace, complete with an ornate cast-iron door.Onelook Photography

It’s often said that building a custom home or doing a major property renovation can be a stress test of your finances, your character and your relationships. It can also result in a home reflects the owner’s tastes and mirror their life experience.

Where some people turn to Pinterest for inspiration, Evan Nash filled his home in the tiny unincorporated community of Wellington, Ont., (in the southwest corner of Prince Edward County) with influences from his personal travels and with elements from local artisans and suppliers. Mr. Nash likes to say he grew up with Prince Edward County (PEC), which over his 37 years of life has transformed from a sleepy rural shire to a hotbed of viniculture and culinary experimentation. On the outside, his white-shaker-shingle-clad home superficially resembles many of the other clapboard houses in the community of about 2,000 people but inside it is full of architecture and design ideas that would not be out of place in a more urban setting.

“I love design and understand concepts of higher-end design, but I’ve also been the guy digging the holes and tarring the foundation. I grew up in a hardware store; building things has always been innate to me,” says Mr. Nash. He has renovated several properties in PEC over the past decade, starting with the apartments above the hardware store his family has owned for 105 years. “My dad [a landscape architect by training] and I did that together. He’s been amazing at teaching me to do things that are not only fun but make me money.”

Mr. Nash is speaking from his office inside a converted bank vault connected to his Home Hardware store about a block away from his house. After travelling around the world in his twenties, Mr. Nash and his wife returned to PEC about 12 years ago with the idea that he would soon take over the store. Back then, getting on the property ladder was a little easier: his first house cost about $220,000. After renovations, he sold it for about double that amount and bought another house and sold that one for $1-million, and so on. “I’m probably 10 houses deep at this point,” he says. In 2019, he formed Farmhouse Studios with one of his good friends, Gabriel Ramirez.

Though he does work for clients now, he doesn’t choose to live in neutral builder-basic homes even if he has an eye on selling them some day. “I do, as a rule, design the houses for ourselves, that’s where you’re going to get the best quality. … You’re not going to get that passion if you’re speccing for a random buyer,” he says. “For me, it’s a process of how can we, in an economical and pragmatic fashion, enhance and add on to the existing beauty of a home.”

The House Today

The street-side half of Mr. Nash’s home is almost entirely original – a 1½ storey structure with a covered porch wrapping around one side. On the back he added a two-storey addition, a barn-shaped building that’s at a 90 degree angle to the main house giving it space for an attached garage and a full second floor above. From the backyard, filled with clever landscaping and a pool, the house looks ultra-modern; from the front it looks like a well-maintained farmhouse.

From the front door you enter a preserved space where he kept the original trim wherever he could and refinished the hemlock hardwood floors. The ceiling is tongue-and-groove pine, stained not painted. A staircase heads straight upstairs from the entrance, on the left side is a formal sitting area with original fireplace, complete with an ornate cast-iron door. Mr. Nash built his house pre-pandemic, but in today’s market this might more naturally become a home office.

On the left side is the family living room, with walkout to the glassed-in sleeping porch that wraps around to the front of the house. Connecting to this room via French doors is a playroom filled with toys, which sometimes tend to spill out the other entrance to the dining room space that is also the transition from the old building to the new.

On this half of the house the narrow strip hardwood is replaced by a broadplank engineered hardwood Mr. Nash sourced from a fellow PEC resident (whom he sold a fridge too, at the hardware store).

This back half of the house is the workhorse for the family and Mr. Nash aimed to evoke a mid-century modern feel with wooden slats to help designate spaces while still letting outside light through. The walnut upper cabinetry pulls more wood into this space, which is anchored by a huge island in with blue cabinets topped with quartz that waterfalls to the floors.

“I’m innately drawn to mid-century design, but it’s a hard thing to execute properly,” Mr. Nash said. His one regret is that mixing new and old meant there’s a lot of different materials in the house – at least nine different types of wood – unlike most mid-century designs that tried to keep the materials list shorter. “Mid-century was really good at reacting to the site, when you have an existing building it’s hard to create, but I’m on the right track, every time you do one you get closer.”

Art deco-inspired tiles mark the mudroom opposite the kitchen (partially hidden by pantry storage) that connects the side entrance (in a two-storey light well), garage entrance and rear pool-deck exit to the powder room here (handy for wet kiddos zipping in from the pool).

There’s a second staircase (with iron railings from his neighbour, a metal fabricator) that opens into the kitchen that leads up to the addition’s living spaces. The break between the new and old is even starker here because there’s a bridge spanning the atrium that separates the old house from the addition’s three bedrooms.

The half-floor above the old house hosts is a somewhat unusual U-shaped bedroom that wraps around the rough-cut studs (left exposed for some rustic rawness) that frame in the stairwell. The two kids’ bedrooms (one with its own slide!) in the addition are next to each other, and there’s a climbing wall and secret tunnel at the top of the spaces that connects them. Mr. Nash’s daughter chose the floral mural wallpaper in her room, and his son picked the llama wallpaper that comes another PEC local, Kate Golding.

A hallway lined with rear-facing windows and a glass-railed balcony that looks out onto the pool and entertaining area transitions into the primary bedroom suite. A large walk-in closet anchors the space, with ensuite bathroom (black and white marble-slab walls with hexagonal shower tile) to the right and a modest sleeping space to the left.

‘Cheeky beers’

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A hallway lined with rear-facing windows and a glass-railed balcony that looks out onto the pool and entertaining area transitions into the primary bedroom suite.Onelook Photography

Mr. Nash admits he was a demanding client to Wentworth Landscaping in the backyard. “I dug the pool myself – I was trying to save money,” he said. Then, the pool was closed for a year and a half while he built the main house before Wentworth was called back to finish. “It was the third summer when I really got to enjoy the pool space. We have 25 people who come for swimming, it’s become the neighbourhood hangout. The kids run freely between backyards – they have a secret bridge over the trees – it’s kinda Leave it to Beaver.”

The landscape, with bedrock close to the surface, helped mandate a clever way to define the space: the kitchen opens onto a patio and deck and yard that’s separated by fence from the pool deck that opens from the mudroom. At the rear of the property, a raised deck with pergola is high enough so the back half is a bar surface for those hanging out in the barbecue area

“This became the hideout where the adults sit while kids are swimming, there’s a fridge in case you want to have a cheeky beer,” Mr. Nash said.

“The smartest thing I ever did was get the outdoor pizza oven; it’s an easy thing to whip up pizzas on a Sunday afternoon and on Canada Day we have a pizza contest. We are so blessed in our neighbourhood, they are all super foodies, and all great cooks, they all show up and I get to judge.”

No surprise then that he’s planning on renovating another house a few doors away, which is also just a block from the hardware store that as he said, “has fed my family for 120 years.”

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