A 3 story, semi-attached residential unit on the edge of Toronto’s urban core gets complete architectural make over. The multi-story unit had seen countless, sub-par renovations and obvious neglect over the years. Our approach — transform the entire space into a flexible, open, innovative, and inspirational environment conducive to living, hosting, and working.
Pre-dating the Civil War era, the timber frame construction dates back to 1840. Located just north of historic Fort York, the building served as an officers house during its early stages and still maintains ‘Military Lot Reserve’ on all city paperwork. A patchwork of do-it-yourselfer’s construction and lack of design had left the building in a dire need of a fresh start.
‘See holistic and applying specific’ is a phrase we use every day at & Good. We applied this thinking to the King West house, creating a sense of continuity throughout every level and element within the design-build process. Employing a palette of modern, timeless substrates — concrete, light ash, natural stone, raw steel, glass partitions, and flat black throughout the home. We found inspiration in the fusion of classic Scandinavian, modern Japanese, and the raw/reclaimed materials. This approach gave us room to play with user experiences and design forward solutions in every single touchpoint.
Guests are led into the home through ascending, modular concrete forms. As the sidewalk transitions into steps, relief boxes house greenery and ground covering plants. Flat concrete panels applied to elevated layers of facia add depth to the vertical plane. The built-in vertical sidelight on the extra tall door mirrors the vertical lines on the two neighbouring windows.
A bright, open floor plan welcomes entrants on the first floor. Custom 9″ white ash floorboards in lengths varying up to 12’ lead the viewer beyond the interior envelope and into the backyard — optically extending the space. The living room is highlighted with a built-in entertainment centre and direct vent gas fireplace. The floor to ceiling wall treatment uses a parged concrete surround and flat panel walnut cabinetry to create cohesion.
As the living room extends into the house, a dining space is defined with 3 key elements: (1) two custom made, modular tables constructed from a reclaimed naturally broken butcher’s block; (2) a soft glowing LZF lamp; (3) and a large iceberg print from Canadian landscape photographer Curtis Jones. Built in cabinets meet either side of the kitchen peninsula. Italian soft close cabinetry is capped with a soft grey, edgeless Ceaserstone. Freestanding and built-in appliances dot the exterior working wall while laundry and utilities are covered with custom welded, flat black steel doors. With no uppers, an 8′ wide window helps expand the galley kitchen and offer vistas to the backyard and half-century old maple tree.
Leading to the second floor is the floating staircase. Upon the cold-rolled steel mono-stringer sit the thick, 5×8″ solid ash treads. A floor to ceiling glass curtain wall helps keep the second floor hallway bright and unrestricted by structures. In the hallway, an Icelandic mountain top print is rotated 90 degrees mirroring the stepping pattern of adjacent, exposed structure of the second floor staircase. The wide white ash floorboards mimic the main floor and stretch the length of the house, meeting custom built doors on each end.
Large east-facing windows and the walk out deck help fill the studio space with light during the day. At night, the 14′ cathedral ceiling becomes a focal point with its softly up-lit, suspended tray ceiling. An operable skylight centred in the architectural ceiling creates a sense of symmetry in the room. This balance is re-enforced on the exterior wall with a long window and custom made roller desk. On the opposing 14′ internal wall sits the home’s largest art, a 5’x8′ mixed media painting of Tecumseth by Terra Boake — a tribute to the history and street name of the home. Reclaimed wood from the original house now becomes the studio’s door.
To help amplify afternoon light into the centre of the home, a moving wall was fabricated in place of a traditional doorway. When open, the central artery of the home has a brighter, more spacious feel. When guests arrive, the wall can be closed over for privacy — revealing a built in closet and personal work station. Adjacent from the waterfall-like, ash-skinned wall is a floor to ceiling curtain wall. Three jellyfish prints by underwater photographer / marine biologist Alexander Semenov line the internal wall.
The third floor master bedroom utilizes the centre point of the roofline to create two different zones. Symmetrical partitions of frosted glass and brick cut ash help mask the open shelving and 2-piece bath. A modular, custom built storage unit is easily moved based on the user’s personal preference. A panoramic and tilt and turn windows hug the north east corner. While a skylight floods light directly over the open staircase and into the centre of the home.
The modular concrete entrance steps flatten out to form the single car driveway and then continuously warp around all 3 sides of the owned property. Matching the entrance’s cut out approach, strategically placed openings are filled with greenery and natural elements like the 2 ton mica quartzite rock. In contrast to the concrete, black horizontal and vertical planes are merged and into transcend planes. Black wood chips on the ground covering shift vertical to match the black perforated steel on the fence.
75 year old fir from the St. Lawrence Seaway is used to warp around the property exterior. The reclaimed material skins the fence, 3 sided motorcycle covering, and the outdoor built-in cook area. The corner opening, polycarbonate doors add fun to the space with oversized numbers printed on a frosted yellow substrate. 10″ thick, unfinished fir beams span the width of the property acting as architectural features, structural support for fence paneling and the second story deck. Strung between the two overhead beams, an 8′ square hammock lets you dream away the weekends in this dreamy home.
First and second floor plans expand past the building envelope and into the outdoor spaces.
Custom walnut cabinetry surrounds entertainment and gas fireplace area.
The LZF lamp and reclaimed butcher block table grounds the dining space.
Italian cabinets balance the custom, oversized steel doors in the galley kitchen with views.
The 14′ cathedral ceiling in the studio space remove limitations of the imagination.
The master bath utilizes Niagara Escarpment Limestone to create a spa like environment.
The second bedroom utilizes a moving wall to open up the central arteries of the home with light and space.
The 3rd floor master bed floats like a tree house next to the adjacent majestic maple tree.
Fibre cement board panels surround the elongated and vertical picture windows throughout.
The external space is an oasis in the urban core — day or night.