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Inside HGTV star Scott McGillivray’s sumptuous and family-friendly home.
The house takes your breath away. Scott McGillivray, the hard-working host and executive producer of HGTV’s popular Income Property, spent a decade improving other people’s homes. So when he got the chance to build one for his own wife and kids, he poured every bit of knowledge learned on the job into the project. “My first home was great for a couple,” he says. “But I wanted a home for a family.”
Scott and his wife, Sabrina, had a long wish list for their dream house. Privacy was a priority, as was plenty of space and kid-friendly storage. (Daughters Myah and Layla are five and three.) They wanted a house that was practical but glamorous, and glamorous but not fussy. It should be ideal for entertaining but also cozy; feel cleanly contemporary in style, while also giving a nod to tradition with elements such as high ceilings and crown molding. Working with renowned designer Jane Lockhart, head of her namesake Toronto firm, they achieved all that and more. The new McGillivray home, set on two acres in a leafy suburb outside Toronto, is gorgeous and grand, evincing the homeowners’ flair for detail. Its custom look includes exuberant and innovative use of one of Scott’s favorite products, Cambria natural stone.
“Welcome to the project to end all projects!” Scott says with a smile, gesturing around his new kitchen. He is broad-shouldered and handsome yet utterly approachable. His and Sabrina’s discerning taste and style are stamped throughout their new home. Start with the kitchen, which he says he placed “literally in the middle of the house,” to represent its central place in family life. It has two islands, one for food prep, the other with bar stools, a setup that allows a cook to work and socialize at the same time. (Dirty pots stay out of view in the separate scullery; the servery, which includes a butler’s pantry and customized wine racks, offers storage.)
“This is where we entertain and hang out,” Scott says. Indeed the generous size can accomodate the extended McGillivray clan, which includes grandparents and multiple siblings with their spouses and children. “When we hosted Christmas last year, we had 40 guests!” Scott recalls. However, it’s not just the kitchen that’s welcoming. An open plan knits together the cooking area with the adjacent great room, hall, and a large playroom for the girls, extending the possibilities for togetherness.
Leading to the home’s second story is a dramatic curved staircase with open risers, what Scott calls a “statement piece,” its metal balusters laser cut and entirely without welds. Upstairs, the master bedroom’s many comforts—a coffee bar, fireplace, blackout blinds, mammoth walk-in closet, and two separate reading areas—offer what he calls “the pampered feel of a high-end hotel, somewhere you could easily imagine spending the whole day.” The basement contains a guest suite, plus an entertainment center and bar and a synthetic ice hockey rink. Scott admits that the theater room, which holds a dozen recliners and a 14-foot screen, wasn’t high on his original must-haves but has fast become a family favorite. “Going to the movies with young children isn’t always a fantastic experience and date nights can be nonexistent,” he says with a grin. “This really makes watching movies fun.”
Remarkably, the build was completed in a year, with cameras recording the entire process for a 10-part HGTV Canada series Moving the McGillivrays. The project that Scott calls “the hardest thing I’ve ever done” was accomplished without any major surprises, though he admits going over budget “by a pretty significant amount” on lighting. “Some of the rooms ended up larger than I originally planned, with ceilings higher than I’d anticipated,” he says. “I suddenly realized you can’t put a plain little light fixture in that space. Shame on me for not being more prepared! It kind of gives me a new appreciation for every homeowner I’ve ever worked with.”
There was never a question that the project would make ample use of Cambria. Both designer and homeowner have used—and loved—Cambria for many years. In fact, in May 2016, Scott became one of the company’s collaborative partners, teaming up with Jane to host a nine-part video series: “Dream. Plan. Do.” The series, offered directly on Cambria’s website, helps anyone beginning the daunting task of a kitchen remodel by providing practical expert advice. Scott calls his partnership with Cambria “the best kind, one that grows out of an established working relationship that you want to celebrate.”
He first looked into using quartz some time ago because of the challenges he faced as a contractor with other stone, particularly in terms of maintenance. “To me, it was Cambria that transformed it into a high-end product. It’s the quality that goes into production, as well as the attention to detail and design. That, and that the company has always beenwilling to push the industry forward. When I met Cambria’s President and CEO Marty Davis, I saw a man of vision, someone who believes that if you’re going to do something, you should be the best at it.” Scott, whose own company, McGillivray Group, employs many relatives, also appreciates that Cambria is family owned. “It takes a lot of confidence to bring your family into a business,” he emphasizes. “You don’t take anything for granted.”
Scott, who is not only a TV host but also a successful real estate investor, has long emphasized that creating home value requires spending wisely where it counts. “Countertops are not like a paint color you can switch out if something doesn’t work,” he says. “That means they need to last—I want to do it once and do it right. I trust Cambria products and I know they perform.”
It’s hard to find a room in the McGillivray’s new house that doesn’t have Cambria quartz. There are some 16 designs used in 20 rooms: atop the islands in Sabrina’s craft room; the master bedroom closet and coffee bar; in the foyer, laundry, and mud rooms; on multiple bathroom vanities; and the basement bar and entertainment center. In the servery, the dramatically dark shades of Ellesmere™ are reflected in a mirrored backsplash. One kitchen island and the perimeter countertops are a smooth expanse of Brittanicca™, a cream-colored stone with sweeping streaks of gray like tidal marks in sand. “Cambria designs match my own taste,” Scott says. “I really love Brittanicca™. It’s one of those designs that appeals to everyone: soft, calm and clean but with loads of character.”
Both Scott and Jane jumped at the chance to get creative with the product. “Because I’ve used Cambria so much, I know its possibilities,” says Jane. Case in point: Custom-cut strips of Cambria’s terrazzo-esque Minera™ pattern add a jewel-like sparkle of gunmetal to the master bath floor. Cambria creates a smooth, groutless surface Jane notes, “and because it’s nonporous, you never have to worry about soap scum, condensation from use of scented oils, or that someone will clean by mistake with something that etches the material.”
The pièce de résistance, however, is the enormous fireplace in the great room, where a 24-foot ceiling soars. Cambria is often used in this manner, Scott says, but not usually on such a grand scale. “I wanted something completely different,” he says. “As if it was carved out of the side of a mountain.” Made entirely of Brittanicca™, the surround stands almost six feet high and is of even greater width. “Imagine trying to explain that you want to build something that has never been done before,” jokes Scott. “I love that Cambria took on the challenge. It took an experienced crew over a full day to install it. It’s breathtaking and unique; a piece of art.”
No one could miss the pleasure on his face as he looks around what he hopes will be his “forever home.” “My family got everything we wanted,” he says. “It was win, win, win!”
Get Scott’s expert advice on kitchen renovations with the popular video series “Dream. Plan. Do.” at CambriaUSA.com/DreamPlanDo.