An Elegant Backyard Retreat in the Heart of Burlington

An Elegant Backyard Retreat in the Heart of Burlington

When Donna Cripp and her husband Paul decided to move from their dream home in Grimsby to smaller digs, they knew they had their work cut out for them. Their spacious 5,600-square-foot Grimsby homestead backed onto a beautiful lake, affording them the privacy and calm, outdoor ambience they craved. They loved the community and had lived there for 20 years. But when their son, Brad, moved out and on to university, they began to think about simplifying their lives and shortening their daily commute to work. With two extremely high-profile careers – Donna is the CEO of St. Peter's Hospital, a Hamilton-based long-term care facility and Paul is the director of engineering for the Town of Milton - they desired a similar calming retreat where they could relax, destress, and enjoy the outdoors they love so much.

For Donna, long hours at work and being on call 24/7 demands a peaceful environment in her off hours. Having adequate space to entertain family, friends and clients was also a high priority for the busy couple. "We looked for a long time and at a number of places and we started to really examine what a home means to us," says Donna. "We concluded we wanted a place where we could really let our hair down and relax, but we had very specific criteria. We were spoiled - we didn't want any neighbours behind us but we also didn't want to give up a city water supply. That eliminated a lot of options." Donna's wish list also included a southern or southwest exposure with large windows and a large kitchen opening onto an entertainment area and family room. "The orientation of the house was really important because I love the sun - that's what gives me my spark," she explains. "I also enjoy being able to interact with my guests when I'm in the kitchen," she says.

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The couple compromised and bought a new, 3,500 square-foot home just over a year ago that backs onto Millcroft Golf Course in Burlington. They custom designed the house and the lot to suit their needs. The Cripps' backyard borders Millcroft's first hole, which is great for golf lovers Paul and Brad, but also gave them exactly what they wanted - privacy in an urban setting, a southern exposure with tons of light thanks to oversize glass sliding doors and windows, and a huge open concept kitchen, dining area and family room complete with a gas fireplace focal point. The large kitchen with stainless steel appliances, large island and lots of counter space is perfect for the dinner parties they host mainly in the summer months. The couple took the retreat concept a few steps further by hiring a Burlington-based company, Serenity Pools, to install the swimming pool in the backyard. It comes complete with a sheer-descent waterfall and a natural gas fire pit. Harding Fences, also of Burlington, installed the home's fencing. "It's funny, but the lake at our old house was quite loud," Donna says. "We missed the sound of water so we imported it. I find I can solve the problems of the world listening to that sound. It's a nice, happy medium. In the warmer months we eat breakfast and dinner outside as often as we can. It's magnificent."

So, with a clear vision of what they wanted and some imagination and planning, the Cripps accomplished their goal of creating the calming retreat they dreamed of. They plan on more landscaping around the pool in the summer.

The couple's second and more personal retreat is their large, upstairs bedroom suite, which spans the entire width of the house. A third gas fireplace installed in the bedroom/bathroom allows Donna to gaze at the fireplace while in the tub or from the king size bed. "If I'm staring into a flame, things come to me," she says. "It allows me to meditate. I love it."