This narrow 130-year-old residence, located on a small lot in a dense downtown neighbourhood, required a complete overhaul to fulfill the owner’s desire for modern living in a home filled with light and open spaces. To preserve the intimate rear garden, the design challenge was to create a more spacious interior without increasing the footprint of the house.
The previously dark and cramped interior was carved out to produce bright, airy spaces connected through an open plan. A floating, open-riser stair at the centre of the house is topped with a large overhead skylight, which allows light to penetrate deep into the interior. Custom, built-in elements such as the stacked felt-clad fireplace delineate areas without closing off one room from another. Materials and built-ins emphasize linearity, creating the perception of expanding and stretching the interior space, directing the eye through the house towards the garden.
To strengthen this visual connection, large floor-to-ceiling glass panes help dissolve the boundary between indoors and outdoors and extend the ground floor living area into the backyard. The interior flooring material is carried through to the exterior, further emphasizing continuity between the two. An overhead wood and steel trellis defines an intimate outdoor room off the small living room. A horizontal whitened wood fence and deck envelops the back garden which is defined by recessed planters - containing fragrant lavender, colourful grasses, and Japanese maple trees - arranged to create the feeling of separate ‘rooms’ within the larger whole. The result is an intimate outdoor courtyard that changes with each season, complementing this light-filled, serene interior.