This funky Fort Erie home is an architectural gem

Architect Paul Kariouk found a way to engineer a lake view, even though the house isn’t on the shoreline

Isabel B. Slone
A large cubist home with one large cube over the main house
A large cubist home with one large cube over the main house
(Photography courtesy of Dave Edward)

From the outside, the Bower House could pass for a submarine with a periscope peering outward as interpreted by Pablo Picasso. From another angle, it resembles an inquisitive robot. Whatever it may be, the puzzling house at 888 Edgemere Road in Fort Erie, Ontario, which is on sale for the relative bargain price of $1.3 million, doesn’t look like anything else on the street.

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When architect Paul Kariouk first received the commission in 2011, his client requested a house with a lake view, despite having purchased a plot of land on the wrong side of the street. Out of necessity, Kariouk devised a unique solution.


A wide shot of the property, with the lake in the distance

Fort Erie restricts the height of new builds to two storeys. “The way it was written in the code is that you’re allowed not more than a two-storey house but they never said the two storeys had to touch,” Kariouk says. The firm raised a scissor lift until it was able to determine what height the house needed to be in order to provide a virtually unobstructed sight line toward the water. Kariouk designed a massive primary bedroom suite elevated well above the main floor, perched atop a steel frame. The firm located the best view, between surrounding houses and trees, and designed the second floor around it. That’s why it rests at a slightly different angle than the ground floor. An added bonus: “Being up so high, you also get a breeze off the lake,” Kariouk says.

“We submitted the drawing, and they weren’t going to fight it, but they certainly were going to make sure that it didn’t happen again,” he says. Shortly after, the city rewrote the bylaws to prevent future creative interpretations of the law.

A white living room with a large white sectional couch. The kitchen is in the background.

Current owner Dustin Picov, an NFT and crypto entrepreneur who purchased the house in 2017 for $892,000, knew the house was special the moment he saw it. With its massive 5,100 square footage, glistening contemporary interiors, indoor swimming pool and prime location across from the beach, the property represented everything he had ever dreamed of in a home. “It’s one of those houses where you wake up every day feeling like a king. You go out to the balcony and you’re literally looking down upon people’s houses. It’s so high up it feels like you’re surveying your kingdom,” he says. “You literally feel incredible everyday waking up in the house like this.”

The soaring master bedroom was initially conceived as a “love nest.” Kariouk named the home the Bower House after a species of bird called Bowerbird, whose males build and decorate elaborate structures to secure a mate. This house was intended to serve the same purpose by the client who commissioned it. The strategy worked—the owner was married shortly after the house was completed.

The bedroom, with a large bed in the foreground. The lake is visible in the window in the distance.

Shortly after moving in, Picov separated the master bedroom into its own unit and began renting it on AirBnB, so the home has the potential to generate income for any future owner. “The best thing about being here is how relaxing it is,” he says. “The view of the water makes it feel so peaceful.”

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The remainder of the house is filled with luxury details. The deck surrounding the indoor pool and waterfall has heated floors, so you can go swimming 365 days a year. The basement has relatively high ceilings and over 2,000 square feet of space. The backyard is home to a menagerie of Ontario wildlife including deer, rabbits and wild turkeys. The only nuisance is the stairs. In order to get up to the treetop getaway, one must climb 48 steep stairs in the shape of a rectangular corkscrew. While some might appreciate the built-in cardio workout, it may not be the most convenient abode for those hoping to age in place.

The indoor pool, which has a pink flamingo floating in it

After six years in the house, Picov moved to St. Catharines to be closer to his children and is ready—or at least almost ready—to let go. “I don’t necessarily want to sell it, but I just don’t really need an extra house,” he says. “Sometimes I think, why am I giving this up?”