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Inside – Outside Job – Jun/Jul2016

Inside - Outside Job - Jun/Jul2016

How a successful transition from public to private space in a cul-de-sac home elevates lifestyle and delights the eye.

Young families always find a home on a cul-de- sac attractive because of the promise of a safe streetscape. The niche of properties is isolated from busy city traffic, reducing noise to some degree while providing a sense of privacy. This cul-de-sac home located in the Underhill neighbourhood of Toronto was a typical ’60s sidesplit. The purple, Tudor-like façade architecture did not reflect the preferred contemporary esthetic of the homeowners. In addition, the living space was inadequate.

For this family of four, keeping two young boys busy and healthy would require a well-planned kitchen and family room, with many stimulating outdoor spaces to allow for somewhat supervised activities. Such a home would need to cleverly address visual relationships along with functional needs to achieve these objectives.


Exploring the 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, we 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 the kids play. The entire composition creates a welcoming yet usable street presence.

The large window above the sink and the oversized sliding door allows you to see the entire backyard and pool area.


Inside, the kitchen and family room additions are as conducive to entertainment and supervised kids-play as the outdoor spaces. Setting up activity areas and strategic placement of furniture and cabinetry optimized sight lines and extended the auditory capacity.

For instance, as you stand in front of the cooktop or in front of the working square island, a vertical window at the corner of the kitchen gives you a glimpse of the front court. Looking the other way, the large window above the sink and the oversized sliding door allows you to see the entire backyard and pool area. This in-between positioning pleasantly integrates an outdoor open feel into the home.

A more 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 eight-foot wide sliding door opens, the sound and proximity of the water falling offers a sense of dining al fresco.


In fact, the location of the pool was critical in setting up the backyard to include a cooking and eating area, 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.

The accent colours quite purposefully range from the fresh purples and corals of the front yard furniture to the sleek red in the kitchen island.

Sharing a picture-frame window with the outdoor seating area, the family room was treated as a sculptural interior garden. Walls, ceilings alike are painted in highly contrasting colours. They are playful in shape and architecturally designed to solve a practical problem: the dropped barn-board ceiling hides the transition from the eight-foot ceiling of the older part of the house to the new 10-foot-high family room addition; it also allows access to the new master bedroom above. 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 inside.

Colours and textures throughout 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 quite purposefully 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 television and the rough barn board of the family room ceiling. The soft blue of the water colour dominates the backyard.

The main floor of the house was configured in such way as to achieve visual continuity with the outdoors. The overall effect, from the street view to the inside and on to the back, is a seamless progression that blurs the boundaries of architecture and unifies the entire property.

Photography By: Chris Harrison


OUTDOOR FURNITURE: Andrew Richard Designs

KITCHEN: Scavolini

INDOOR FURNITURE: Roche Bobois, Suite 22 Interiors


Trained as an architect and interior designer, Adriana Mot has been the principal of Dochia since 2000. Leading a multi-disciplinary team, Adriana practices a holistic approach to design that is centred on individual well-being. A member of The Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO), her work has been recognized through various awards and publications.