An urban oasis in the Beaches

Just a few blocks from busy Queen Street East, on a tiny corner lot, the clients engaged the design team to create a serene oasis which felt sophisticated and urban, with the comfort and coziness of a cottage.

Interior Designer: Cathy Garrido, ARIDO

Design Firm: Altius Architecture Ltd.

Photographer: Arnaud Marthouret

The main living spaces are situated on the ground level as the owners wanted to see what is happening around them and feel part of the action as passersby head to the beach and surrounding amenities. From the second floor, the owners needed a more private dwelling, with separation from the bustle around them, especially in the master bedroom. There, they wanted a private space to relax that also had extensive windows and light.

The clients had several must-haves for the rooftop space, an exercise pool, outdoor kitchen and barbecue area, and entertainment areas which didn’t interfere with their private space. Although they entertain often, they emphasized the need to maintain distinctly private family areas in the dwelling. The owners also had an art collection that needed spaces and rooms with simple backdrops in which to best show it off. In terms of interiors, they had a bright but warm space in mind, simple but with interesting details.

In the finished home, interior and exterior flow together, with windows south, east and west, and generous balconies. Sunlight floods in, while balconies provide shade from the hottest sun. Wood soffits and siding add a natural, modern beach house feel.

The ground floor has a strong connection to the busy street. The second floor has a quiet family room and an outdoor balcony where the owners spend their leisure time in the evenings. The master suite on the third floor has an outdoor terrace overlooking Kew Gardens, and provides privacy and quiet for relaxing and recharging, despite expansive surrounding windows.

The rooftop has the desired exercise pool, outdoor barbecue, and kitchen. Stairs from second-floor balcony enable entertaining without cutting into private space and provide special access to late-night swims and sunsets over Toronto from the master suite. When trees are in full bloom, the rooftop is a forest treehouse instead of a city home.

Interiors are completed in a bright palette. Gas fireplaces and lower ceilings provide cozy space for both entertaining and family time. A plaster tile creates texture through the stairwell, and hidden lights add drama. Custom grey-stained oak cabinetry wraps the entryway and kitchen and hides a powder room. Large walls on the north side provide optimal surfaces for hanging art.

The home has a simplicity that feels warm and inviting and creates a feeling of intimacy and coziness. It is the perfect oasis in the city for its owners.

Bringing the outside in made this home feel liveable yet contemporary

Interior Designer: Azen Bongard, ARIDO

Design Firm: Studio 8 Design Inc.

Photographer: Azen Bongard

The clients purchased this home mid-construction and were excited that it was an eco-friendly build using insulated concrete form construction and radiant floor coils as the sole heat source. They loved the views of the water on each of the three levels, and the adjacent tree-lined neighbourhood.

With a floorplan considerably smaller than their previous home, their main concern was feeling cramped as a family of four. They also needed the home to accommodate their family business, which added to the space constraints.

The client’s other concern was that the design of the home not be too cold and modern. They had seen many new homes that felt sterile and impersonal to them, and they envisioned a space that was contemporary, yet livable and warm.

Photographer: Azen Bongard

In order to visually enlarge the space, the design team maximized the indoor/outdoor connection with large windows, backyard access from the ground floor, and lush plants around the space.

Minimal blinds let in an abundance of natural light, while guard glass with little hardware lets the light flow throughout the space, and the elegance of the double high space over the kitchen is emphasized by a custom sculptural light fixture which also draws the eye upwards. A barn door and wooden bar-stools soften the modern angles of the home, while the natural oak of wide planks underfoot enhances the connection to nature.

Photographer: Azen Bongard

The aesthetic even spread to the storage solutions, where extensive built-ins in each of the rooms were created to stow clothing and clutter away.  

The design team mainly used natural materials such as wood, concrete, brick, rope, undyed wool and felt in order to create a warm, contemporary aesthetic. Each are eco-friendly options, which also emphasize the natural colour palette, while the team chose throws, pillows and carpets with lots of texture, to emphasize the handmade, human connection.