Connecting the outdoors: blending public and private space in a cul-de-sac home

Connecting the outdoors: blending public and private space in a cul-de-sac home

Houses situated in a cul-de-sac are always attractive to young families because of the guaranteed proximity to a safe street environment. The reduced car traffic allows for a slow transition from the public space of the city to the private space of the home and its backyard. 

Interior Designer: Adriana Mot

Design Firm: Dochia Interior Design

This home in the Underhill neighbourhood of Toronto was a typical 60’s side-split, with an odd, purple Tudor-like facade. Its architecture did not reflect the preferred contemporary aesthetic of the owners and the interior space was inadequate. What this family of four knew, is that keeping two young boys busy and healthy requires a well-planned kitchen and family room and many stimulating outdoor spaces that would allow for somewhat supervised activities. Such a home would need to cleverly address visual relationships and functional needs in achieving these requirements.

To achieve this, exploring potential links between the outdoor and the indoor spaces became central to our design. From the street, through the main level of the home and all the way to the backyard, Interior Designer Adriana Mot planned areas of activity that are visually interconnected and hold a dynamic, spatial dialogue of proportion, views, textures, and colours.

The cul-de-sac is essentially a second yard, a friendly, safe, semi-private environment for playing and socializing. We designed a curved paved terrace with soft lines of greenery around it that visually balances the modern geometry of the renovated home. It defines a seating area where sleek outdoor furniture allows parents and friends to lounge and watch kids play. The entire composition creates a welcoming yet usable street presence.

Inside, the kitchen and family room additions are as responsive to entertainment and supervised kids-play as the outdoors. A controlled sense of connection between outdoors and indoors is achieved through the alignment of the glass breakfast table inside and the pool waterfall outside. On a hot summer day when the 8-foot wide sliding door opens, the sound and proximity of the water falling give a sense of eating outdoors.

In fact, locating the pool was critical in setting up the backyard to include a cooking and eating area, a comfy seating around a marshmallow-ready fire pit and a sunbathing area. As an added bonus, the convenient outdoor shower allows the kids to quickly get ready for dinner without dripping in and out of the house.


Continuing the interactive theme between the outdoors and indoors, the bookcase on the back wall, opposite from the window acts as a reflection of nature: the mixed angles of the vertical gables are an abstraction of tree trunks elegantly stylized and transferred to an indoor setting. 

Colours and textures were chosen to reinforce the spatial dialogue and pinpoint key locations. Primarily, the overall scheme is made of soft greys, medium browns, and taupes. The accents that are deliberately introduced range from the fresh purples and corals of the front yard furniture to the sleek red in the kitchen island, to the satin black panels around the tv and the rough barn board of the family room ceiling. The soft blue of the pool dominates the backyard. 

The entire main floor of the house was shaped in such way as to achieve visual continuity with the outdoors. The overall effect is an instilled sense of progression from the outside to inside and back out that blurs the boundaries of architecture and engages the entire property.

Laurentia Adriana Mot

More from this author

Laurentia Adriana Mot

Dochia inc.

view profile