There were two principal design challenges for this new residence in central Etobicoke: create a distinctly contemporary home that doesn’t feel alien to its suburban surroundings, and satisfy the lifestyle needs of a large, extended family while working within the relatively small footprint of the bungalow it is replacing.
Location: Wedgewood Park, Toronto
Design Team: Great Lake Studio
Construction: Catalyst Design Build
Photography: Scott Norsworthy
At once a nice neighbor and a quiet nonconformist, the design fits gently into the streetscape but also stands firmly apart, twisting the conventions typically associated with suburban single-family homes in subtle and surprising ways
The exterior’s spare composition of simple geometric forms reflects the efficient and rigorous planning of spaces contained within. Character and warmth are projected through a taut cladding of custom charred and oiled cedar - a richly textured backdrop for shadow play from surrounding trees. A simple folded roof continues the general rhythm of adjacent homes along the street face, but slopes steeply toward the back, sheltering a series of private outdoor terraces under deep, exaggerated eaves.
A wide covered front porch (unusual in this neighborhood) offers a place to casually take in the surprisingly vibrant street life, and chat with neighbors.
A fireplace just beyond the entrance area projects a warm, hospitable ambiance toward the street, and welcomes guests upon arrival.
The family gathers together on the ground floor, which is open and sprawling with an emphasis on fluid movement from the front entrance, through the main living spaces, and outside into a verdant back garden.
Living, Dining, and Kitchen areas are loosely differentiated by long arms of custom oak cabinetry - while open to one another, each of these areas still feels comfortably contained and intimate.
Like the rest of the house, the ground floor living areas are compact but feel generous, seeming to expand outwards through large floor-to-ceiling openings into garden areas beyond.
Tucked away out of sight, a private live-in suite keeps elderly In-laws close to common areas without having to use stairs.
An elegantly designed 'Harvest Table' is a defining feature of the home, and all common living areas pivot around this central family gathering place. Beautifully fabricated from solid walnut, the Harvest Table is an heirloom piece that will last for generations.
A restrained material palette applied consistently throughout the home creates a calm and harmonious background that can better withstand (and not be overwhelmed by) the chaos and clutter of family life.
A skylit stair draws filtered daylight into the dining area, and further down to the basement below.
The stair itself is sculptural and playful, contrasted against a white wooden screen.
In contrast to the open, horizontal orientation of the ground floor, the upper level is vertically oriented and much more compartmentalized, with 4 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms, a private Study, and Family Room all efficiently arranged within a very small footprint.
Again, spaces are compact but feel spacious thanks to soaring vaulted ceilings (normally unused attic) and daylighting from skylights arranged along the roof ridge.
Children’s bedrooms are long and linear (like berths on a train) but also tall, wrapped around shared private bathrooms – efficiently planned, highly functional, and fun to inhabit all at once.
Deep cantilevered roof eaves create a variety of sheltered porches, decks, and balconies around the perimeter of the home. These also serve to shade the larger window areas, enhancing privacy and passively cooling the house through summer months.
A terraced back deck with bleacher seating provides a theatrical venue for summer parties and casual hang-outs.