Around the Bend
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Cannon fire once rang out on the shores of the property Michelle and Rick Seip call home.
At a gentle bend in the Nottawasaga River, overlooking the Nancy Island Historical Site, a significant battle in the War of 1812 was fought.

'“They found cannonballs on the beach,” reports Michelle Seip, a busy Wasaga Beach realtor who takes pride in the history of her land.
The H.M.S. Nancy was sunk here and the hull of the ship was raised from the depths in 1934. Now housed in the island's museum and amphitheater, this thrilling piece of history is all within direct view of the kitchen window of the Seips' 4,800-square-foot dream home.
“At that time, the only roadway was the beach,” says Michelle Seip. “Historic photographs show horses and wagons traveling down the sand.”
The Seips fell in love with this parcel of land back in 1999 when the property was being utilized as a four-season resort. It housed five cottages at that time, which still stand high on the banks to this day. The Seips decided to leave the cottages intact and spent the next few years dreaming and planning out their future structure. “We wanted to get a feel of the location – the angles and shapes of the land – so we could design the house for the land and maximize the views. It was a real labour of love.”
Michelle's husband and realty partner Rick designed and drew the plans. They broke ground in 2003, deciding on a slab on-grade structure with in-floor radiant heating. They first built the east wing of the house, used now as their real estate office, and lived there for a year while the rest of the house was constructed. The final result was a ranch-style home with a two-tiered tower inspired by the work of famed architect Andrés Duany, renowned for his New Urbanism development in Seaside Florida. “We call it our coastal beach room.”
The couple had originally planned a single level tower to be used as a media room, but once erected, decided to go up another level to take advantage of the expansive 360-degree vistas the additional height would afford. A Celestron telescope sits at the ready for stargazing there. In the summer months, the Seips live in the treetops in their third floor tower, fittingly painted in a Benjamin Moore “Turret” tint. Come autumn, once the leaves drop, their reward is a majestic view around the river bend, all the way to the distant ski hills of Devil's Glen. “It's a perfect space for five o'clock cocktails.”
This bend in the river was used to great effect by Rick. Each room on the main floor moves with the waterway, taking on a slightly different bearing. As you journey through the open concept living room, through the kitchen to the dining room, you are left with the distinct   » impression of uniquely defined separations despite the fact there are no walls constricting the spaces.
In the living room, you are greeted with a Rumsford wood-burning fireplace, surrounded by quarried Wiarton grey limestone and a hand-hammered iron screen by Northern Iron. Rick cut every stone. Everything in the house is custom – the stonework, art from local artisans, and all the millwork, cabinetry and furnishings from tables to beds to shelving and kitchen islands, which were custom designed by Bruce Bateman Kitchens and Cabinetry.
The home has five fireplaces in all. “We really use our fireplaces. We keep our kindling in that old firebox we got at The Royal Winter Fair.”
In addition to the wood burning Rumsford, there are four other gas-fired fireplaces – one in the upstairs tower coastal beach room, two more in the master bedroom and the office and a waist-high fireplace in the dining room, which supplies ambience and warmth while dining.
“We eat in our dining room every night. It's so cozy. We really use every room in our home. Not one is for show.” The room's large wooden table is another Bruce Bateman creation, lit by a nine-lamp chandelier, hand forged by the blacksmiths of Hubbardton Forge.
Good lighting was of paramount importance to the Seips since they chose darker cabinetry and furnishings. Recessed and accent lighting has been carefully placed throughout to brighten any dark spots. Large windows with decorative transoms allow river views from virtually every room that can provide one. A pale-coloured Pakistani wool rug from Elte is also effective in grabbing light to bounce it up and away from the cherry-stained engineered hardwood.
The main living area walls are a restful Benjamin Moore Fairview Taupe, which perfectly balance the burgundy red leather Bruce sofas by Canadian furniture maker Coja. A stone's throw from the living room, you find yourself in the welcoming kitchen, with a large island stained in White Chocolate that divides the room. Above it hangs another Hubbardton Forge pendant lamp. Countertops are all granite with 1-1/2 inch square polished edges. Large slab natural Italian stone is used for flooring.
“The laying of the floor was like creating a piece of art,” says Michelle, who supervised the placement of each and every slab. The backsplash behind the commercial Viking range uses the same stone as the floor but in smaller sections, bringing a unique continuity to the design. The range is flanked on either side by attractive stone columns and next to them, full-sized, built-in Viking refrigerator and Viking freezers.
Functionality was key to this well thought-out kitchen. Standing five-foot two-and-three-quarters-inches tall, Michelle knows the challenges » of working in a kitchen with cabinetry designed for a man of average height. To solve this common problem, they brought all of the cabinetry down to counter level, ensuring that everything would be equally accessible by a person of shorter stature. Pots and pans are tucked away in deep pot drawers. Ceiling level cabinets with in-cabinet lighting were left for decorative items. “There's so much accent lighting. It's just stunning at night.”
It's clear the home is richly decorated with artistic touches and mementos of their adventures. In the tower sitting room, styled in a bleached beach house chic, a large glass vase of seashells hand-collected by the couple from the Sea of Cortez reminds of a treasured escape from their productive and abundantly exciting lives. Gracing the downstairs kitchen countertop, an arresting bronze sculpture by R.J. Moore of a cowboy rescuing a lost calf on horseback is evidence of Michelle's deep love of all things equine.
Sometime between the War of 1812 and the property's future incarnation as a cottage resort, 66 River Avenue Crescent enjoyed a stint as a horse farm. This perhaps speaks to one reason why the home is awash in equine imagery, from artwork to sculptures to lovely silk-screened cushions. Michelle sometimes wonders if the “energy of place” is responsible for stimulating her sudden passion for horses, which apparently arose only after she moved into this dream house.
Today she is an accomplished ‘reiner', who shows and competes with her horses in Florida numerous times each year. Twice annually she also hits the dusty trail in Alberta for an old-fashioned cattle drive with real life cowboys.
For Rick, the passion for horsepower is focused on camshafts and pistons. His enthusiasm for old cars and Harleys is evident by the massive 1,450-square-foot five-car garage, complete with a tricked out mechanic's workbench and heavy-duty car hoist.
En route to that dream garage you pass through a spacious anteroom the Seips call their gallery. Their collection of prints and acrylics by Sheila Fox and Sue Tupy, as well as an amusing dinosaur bird sculpture by Valerie Tennant feed the spirit here. To the left is the master bedroom with its grand spa bathroom featuring an Azurra freestanding spa tub and roomy adjoining walk-in closet. Guest rooms are on the opposite side, all prepped for visitors with baskets of plush towels and pocket doors that offer total privacy in their own wing.
Despite the charm and comfort of the interior, the Seips venture outside often to enjoy their exterior location. Patios are accessible from bedroom to dining room all along the riverside.
“We sit outside a lot. The wild geese migration is always a sight to see. They flock all along here. You should see it when they land and take off. It's like a highway.” 

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