House in a Grove
Located in the community of Oakville west of Toronto, this new home for a family of five nestles into its narrow lot, inviting in the startling lushness of the neighbouring property through a substantially fenestrated northeast elevation. The two-storey, five-bedroom house is efficiently designed to maximize opportunities for natural light, engaging site and landscape through the provision of a generous courtyard and two outdoor decks.
Respecting the footprint of the previous house, the home’s setback accommodates an underground watercourse and meets stringent requirements relating to municipal stormwater management. A uniform cladding strategy of charred wood communicates an understated presence that interferes minimally with the landscape; its colour and pronounced grain convey a texture and variegated quality that reflects the densely treed property.
Spare finishes on the interior respond to the clients’ request for a clean, almost industrial ambience – to optimally showcase the many artifacts they have acquired over years of travel. This neutral backdrop comprises a restrained material palette of white oak floors and millwork, white walls, and brushed stainless steel handrails. Custom concrete panels in a deep charcoal wrap the generously scaled fireplace; the hearth seamlessly extends to form adjacent bench seating, taking advantage of the corner window condition. The kitchen features white lacquered millwork alongside dramatically grey-veined white Carrara marble countertops and backsplash.
Natural light is introduced throughout the home in a plethora of ways. A double-height atrium rises above the dining room, and the adjacent window wall encourages light to flood both first and second floors. At the rear, floor-to-ceiling glazing bathes the interior with northwestern light, and connects the house to the verdant, tranquil qualities of the backyard. Even the basement is treated as a light-filled garden suite through the provision of a sunken walk-out patio off the guest bedroom next to an outdoor shower, and a deep light well suffuses the subterranean rec room with ample daylight.
The fluidity between interior and exterior space is enhanced by the open plan and the continuity between the kitchen/dining area and the outdoor courtyard deck, addressing the clients’ love of entertaining. Their substantial culinary skills are well served by the spacious kitchen; in warmer months, the side courtyard expands the capacity for guests and exterior barbecue facilities aid in more extensive food preparation.
Off the living room, an additional deck faces the beautifully landscaped backyard, promoting an even more active engagement with the natural attributes of the site. It is in these discrete zones of activity that the theme of discovery is most clearly manifest in this project, encouraging a continual exploration of home and site through a multiplicity of means.