Hidden behind the simple facade and humble interiors of this house are a series of delightful surprises. This home was reimagined for a couple in Canada who wanted to bring a slice of country living into their city life.
The couple, both lawyers, spend a lot of weekends at their farmhouse in Muskoka, where they enjoy spending time exploring the countryside. But back in urban Toronto, their home didn’t have that feel to it. What they started to look for was a city home that allowed them to stay connected with the outdoors.
It was a tall order, but they had chosen the designers well before they started looking for a house. This helped them make an informed decision that wasn’t just based on the existing condition of the house, but on its future potential. This lot caught their eye, but the interiors were far from what they wanted their home to be. The indoors lacked access to natural light and a pitched roof cropped out a lot of valuable space in the already small home, making most of the top floor area almost useless.
Except for two exterior walls on either side, the entire structure was gutted and rebuilt. The designers were able to reformat the design and make the new home more energy efficient through smart solutions. The new house boasts a significant reduction in its ecological footprint and consequentially the home owners save a lot on their energy bills.
The glazed front and rear sides of the house allow natural light to seep into every corner. These sides face east and west, which maximizes the usage of sunlight over artificial sources. The direct sunlight also helps in keeping the interiors warm during winter, and the open windows aid cross ventilation, making the house naturally cool during summers.
While typically having so many windows could affect privacy, a sliding wall helps in creating a private corner hidden from plain sight of the passersby when the dining area is in use. Also, the front porch has been recreated as an outdoor dining room. The slatted wooden walls hide the otherwise naked interiors, while also creating a gorgeous space connected to the outdoors. This is just one such creatively crafted open area that helps the home owners stay connected with the natural surroundings of their neighborhood.
Clean lines and minimal decor dominate the entire interior design. It makes the narrow spaces look more generous in size. The overall interior design style leans towards Scandinavian, with a touch of mid-century modern. To minimize clutter, a lot of storage space has been created for all the home essentials. The beautiful pots on display in the kitchen add some color to the muted palette in the living area.
Notice the glazed part of the wall in the kitchen. It makes the room more interesting and the cooking area brighter. The potted plants outside must make it feel like cooking out in the open – almost!
The iconic womb chair by Eero Saarinen is the showstopper here. A few more pieces of mid-century modern furniture can be seen in different parts of the house. This home also features a grand collection of art pieces and paintings, some of which can be seen in the living room. The home owners are art collectors and wanted all their prized possessions to be included in the decor. The designers have carefully spread out these pieces around the house, making it a delight for art enthusiasts to visit this beautiful home.
Other than the obvious purpose of connecting all the floors, the stairwell also acts as a vertical volume that aids air circulation and access to natural light. The skylight at the top of the staircase helps in cross ventilation and in illuminating this central part of the house.
Both the bedrooms on the top floor enjoy open views of the gorgeous green neighborhood. One bedroom has unhindered views of the backyard, while the other faces the street but enjoys an equally splendid scenery. The home owners love gazing at the framed views of the trees from their windows every morning. They liken it to waking up in a tent, with the pitched roof mimicking a canopy.
The master bedroom that faces the street has an adjacent intimate open space in the form of a rooftop terrace. This is where this home gets its name – Skygarden. An opening carved into the roof of this open terrace provides direct access to sunlight, green views and night sky. This room is the favorite part of the house for both the designers and the home owners.
What a delight it would be to soak up some sun and relax with a book in this skygarden! It truly feels like a country retreat somewhere far away from the city. The designers interpreted the home owners’ vision perfectly and it is no surprise that this house has won multiple awards for its design excellence and low environmental impact.
The backyard has been divided into two parts – a deck space covered in thermally treated ash wood and a granite stone paved zone with rows of honey locust trees. The trees were carefully chosen to allow the light to seep through, while still providing shade in summer months. In winters, however, they shed their leaves and let direct sunlight warm up the indoors.
This city home defies all norms and encourages us to rethink our own spaces. Creative design thinking always leads to some incredible solutions, and as our requirements evolve we will need more of such ingenious designs for our city homes.