According to architect Donald Chong, when his clients wanted to build a house in The Beaches, a popular Toronto neighborhood, “they were committed to the idea that they could live well in a compact square footage.”
This was to their advantage, says Chong, a founding partner of Toronto’s Williamson Chong Architects. Narrow infill projects can scare off buyers. The couple found a 19-foot-wide lot with one catch: a 100-year-old Norway spruce in the backyard. Saving the tree and compressing the footprint for the three-story, 2,300-square-foot house “was our first big chess move,” says Chong. He bumped the living room up to the second floor with the children’s bedrooms and created a “kitchen studio” on the first. It spans the length of the house, with window walls at each end.
Rift-cut white-oak-veneer plywood panels line one wall, hiding mechanicals and cabinetry. Nary an appliance is to be seen: The seamless plane of the cabinets, interrupted only by an angled cutout for counter space, was driven by the clients’ anti-clutter aesthetic. A monolithic quartz countertop with an attached oak table anchors what clients Ken Leung and Bonnie Lam call the heart of the home. “When we have friends over, we never end up leaving,” says Leung.
The master bath on the third floor has a view of Lake Ontario. A freestanding glass wall separates a bathtub from a depressed-floor shower. Limestone tiles ease the transition from the bedroom’s warm wood palette. The effect is spa-like, but Leung and Lam, with a young child and another on the way, had a special request: three-sided access to the tub and room to step over toys.
Formal name of building:
Gross square footage:
Total construction cost:
Windows (all windows in the house)
EN SUITE BATHROOM
Paints and stains:
Floor and wall tile:
Ground Floor Powder, BATHROOM
Second Floor, BATHROOM
Third Floor, BATHROOM
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Using first principals of through-ventilation, resilient materials for longevity and natural finishes help this small home engage green building in an honest and straightforward way.