A Suburban Bungalow Gets a Cottage-Like Makeover

A Suburban Bungalow Gets a Cottage-Like Makeover 150 150 info

A Suburban Bungalow Gets a Cottage-Like Makeover

Tabassum Siddiqui
Designlines Magazine
Photography by Chris Sheppard

How a young firm called Design Architecture Everyday raised the roof, and comfort level, of an old bungalow in Mississauga

The word “innovation” probably doesn’t leap to mind when you think of the suburbs. But if your one-and-a-half-storey bungalow – complete with luscious gardens – needs contemporizing, inventiveness is the order of the day.

Architect Melanie Morris, along with David Long and Antoine Morris, partners at the small but busy studio The Practice of Everyday Design, re-imagined the upper level of a home in Mississauga. The goal was to turn the 51-square-metre space crammed with family belongings into a cottage-like retreat with a bedroom, bathroom and living area.

Eden House by DAE in Toronto

First, the walls of the flat-topped second storey were reconstructed into a pitched roofline that reaches three metres. Then, built-in shelving was added along the newly pitched wall. Within the open space, the team came up with a partition screen, clad in horizontal slats of pine, as a way to separate the media room from storage space, bathroom and bedroom.

Flooring throughout is hewn from 150-year-old maple logs that Countrywood, a company that refinishes antique wood, had recovered from seawater. Its natural blue-green tint inspired the use of blue accents to guide the eye through the otherwise cool white interior. An electric-blue faucet in the bathroom matches blue-painted dowels and the handrail leading upstairs.

Instead of ceiling fixtures, light is diffused via eight windows, all edged with Douglas Fir, which glows gold when the sun beams in. From the outside, the placement of five square panes appears almost erratic, though in fact two are positioned on either side of the brass bed and match the clients’ respective heights. The other windows afford snapshots to the outdoors rather than one continuous view. It’s an unconventional look within an aging neighbourhood, but the clients have warmed up to their new abode.  “They are ecstatic about the project now,” says Antoine Morris. So much so that the firm’s next project will be renovating the basement.

Eden House by DAE in Toronto

Scandinavian sensibilities enliven Parkdale’s Dunn House

Scandinavian sensibilities enliven Parkdale’s Dunn House 150 150 info

Scandinavian Sensibilities Enliven Parkdale’s Dunn House

Simon Lewson
The Globe and Mail
November 24, 2016

Before it was a dream home, the Dunn House in Parkdale was a missed opportunity. The residence has the exterior hallmarks of a classic Victorian abode – red brick, window sashes and eyebrow lintels – except that it’s incredibly spacious. In Toronto, where the old houses tend to be tall and skinny, the Dunn House is an unusual 30 feet-wide. The previous owner, however, subdivided the space into four dingy units, with a rabbit’s warren of private entrances, hallways and staircases.

Elise Larsen and her husband, Richard, bought the place in 2013 and hired the Practice of Everyday Design to redo the interiors. The seven-year-old firm – comprised of siblings Antoine and Melanie Morris and partner David Long – has an outsized reputation in part because of Eden House, a Mississauga bungalow turned into an autumnal, woodsy retreat.

Dunn House view from garden by DAE

Elise and Richard, a young professional couple, wanted a home to showcase their design-savvy sensibilities. Elise’s family is from Denmark, where Poul Henningsen’s PH5 – the classic pendant lamp with multiple shades that diffuse and soften light – and Borge Mogensen’s spoke-back sofa could be found in every second home. “There was no question we’d have those in our home, too,” she says. Richard is a Montrealer whose childhood obsession with geology and dinosaur bones turned into an adult passion for collecting. “We’re novelty and stimulus bound,” he says of himself and Elise. “We like sensual objects and we like to be around nice things.”

The house embodies this proclivity. You might say it is the finest acquisition in an already fine collection of furniture, lamps, books and tchotchkes. The aesthetic is mid-century Scandinavian but defined in the broadest possible way. Everything, from the finishes to the furnishings, encapsulates not just the sleekness of Northern European design but also the woodsiness, hominess and durability.

To transform the space, the architects gutted it and then expanded it in all directions. They knocked down partitions, raised ceilings, built an alumina-clad addition to the back and deepened the basement. The feeling is of a building belatedly making good on its potential. The house has always been wide; now, it’s gracious and airy, too.

Dunn House by DAE

Out of respect for the neighbourhood, the team took a non-interventionist approach to the front faade. They reappointed the ruddy brickwork and painted the window casings in their original purple. The real transformation happens indoors. Move though the closed porch into the main space, and you may feel that you’ve zoomed past Victorian Toronto and landed in mid-century Denmark.

The downstairs is a single room with a partial divide – a remnant of the old exterior wall – separating the living-dining area from the kitchen. The interior has the minimalist ambience so often associated with contemporary houses but without the glossy sheen. Instead of stainless steel and shiny laminate, the firm opted for matte, soft-tone finishes: oak floors brushed lightly with oil, Baltic plywood cabinetry with a maple veneer and occasional touches of exposed brick that’s been lime-washed to a milky white.

Designing for collectors is tough. If you have too much display space, the site becomes cluttered. But if the interiors are too streamlined, where will Richard display his mammoth’s tooth or his ancient petrified wood? The goal, then, is to showcase the items that are meant to be seen and hide everything else. The breakfast nook and its attendant appliances (coffee machine, toaster) are behind cabinet doors, and there are open slots beneath the kitchen counter for laptops, cutting boards and cookbooks – items you’d want at hand but out of sight. To showcase collectables, however, the Everyday Design team set ledges, generous windowsills and a two-floor oak bookshelf behind the main staircase.

Dunn House staircase by DAE

Climb alongside it to the second-floor landing, and you’ll encounter the house’s most distinctive feature, the piece Mr. Morris calls the “house within the house.” It is what it sounds like: an oak cabin made from the same wide-plank material as the flooring. “It’s like the floor is folded up and then folded back over again,” he says.

The cabin contains a storage room, bathroom and guest bedroom. A to-be-installed ladder from Studio Junction will take you to the top, where there’s a nook beneath the pitched roof of the house. This secret attic, like something out of a 19th-century children’s novel, perhaps gestures to the home’s Gothic Victorian ancestry, but it’s also a cozy hang out.

The master bedroom is at the back of the second floor, where large east-facing windows bring in ample morning light. Like the rest of the home, it’s elegant and breezy, with millwork cabinetry and a sliding cedar panel to keep the flat-screen TV hidden from view. (“I hate the idea of TVs everywhere,” Elise says.) The adjacent bathroom is clad in pastel-coloured tiles designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The ceramic is so deceptively delicate, it resembles perforated paper.

This juxtaposition – soft textures and sturdy materials – plays out in every room. The term “Scandinavian design” is often used as a shorthand for all things tony and minimalist, but Scandinavian aesthetics are also about durability. That understanding is what elevates the Dunn House above so many of its peers. Yes, you will see the hallmarks of chic urban living – chairs with curvilinear backs and spindly legs, pendant lamps that hang low like summer moons – but don’t mistake lightness for delicacy. Everything is built to last and even to get scuffed over time.

In a telling move, the couple deliberately chose to leave their massive bookshelf unvarnished. “Eventually, there will be a smooth gradient from where we touch it, and it will pick up the oils from our fingers,” Richard says. “But that’s okay. It will only get better with age.” He could be talking about the entire house.


(This project was completed while we were called The Practice of Everyday Design)

Dunn House by DAE

A Victorian in Parkdale Becomes a Scandinavian Chalet

A Victorian in Parkdale Becomes a Scandinavian Chalet 150 150 info

A Victorian in Parkdale Becomes a Scandinavian Chalet

Chantal Braganza
Designlines Magazine, Winter 2015
Photography by Arnaud Marthouret

Note: This project was completed while we were called The Practice of Everyday Design

The Practice of Everyday Design cuts a woodsy retreat for two lovers of all things Danish

When they first saw their house in 2013, the homeowners fell in love with its proportions, and its face. They were immediately drawn to the red brick, 1900s bay-and-gable facade, and it was the one thing the couple knew they wanted to keep. The Parkdale cottage-small, stained-glass front porch belied the larger square footage and the big yard out back.

The home’s previous owner had split the building into several apartments, which meant a large reno job ahead. But the couple was undaunted, confident that they could turn it into their dream home. Self-professed design addicts, they trawled the web until they came across a project by brother-sister duo Antoine and Melanie Morris, and their partner David Long from The Practice of Everyday Design, which had transformed a suburban bungalow in Mississauga into a rural, Scandinavian retreat. Its serene interior and quiet façade immediately struck a chord.

They hired the firm to gut and rebuild their turn-of-the-century house into an elegant, contemporary space with a distinct Nordic feeling. From its nesting-doll bedroom structure on the second floor to the surprisingly spacious ledges that line its windows (each is a reading nook unto itself), the entire home is imbued with hidden volumes that are barely visible both from the outside and in, including a clean-lined back addition clad in matte black aluminum. The house-within-a-house structure upstairs was originally meant to work as three rooms with pitched ceilings, but Antoine carved out more space by making the ceilings flat, allowing for a future loft space accessible by a ladder. The master bedroom and spa-like bathroom are boldly of equal size, separated by a barn door.

View from the street

On the main floor, three interior walls that had cut the original space into units were knocked down. The rear brick wall was left intact with two wide doors cut out of it, barely delineating the kitchen and living room, blurring the lines between the two spaces. “We wanted to keep it monolithic, and try to maximize the area the couple wanted,” says Antoine, who also achieved this visually by keeping most surfaces pale. He conveyed space changes through texture instead, from bleached wood cabinetry to white oak floors and whitewashed brick walls.

That simplicity also highlights a host of collaboratively designed features with exacting details, and some eccentric touches, too. Electric sockets, for example, are cut straight into the wall-to-wall mirrors of the second-floor bathroom. Millwork in the master bedroom has a cutout to conceal the wire of a lamp. The kitchen’s seamless wall of cabinets was purpose-built for everything inside: the clients mapped out where they wanted each pot and pan to be ahead of time. Antoine also fashioned a set of brass chimes into a truly unique doorbell.

A Scandinavian aesthetic pervades throughout, a look passed along from a client’s childhood growing up in a Danish household where low-lying pendant lamps and laid-back sofas were the norm. The couple spent nearly eighteen months post-reno slowly acquiring pieces and labouring over the placement of each one, from the Ilse Crawford lamps to the Jasper Morrison benches – slowly giving a personality to the home behind that great face.

Dunn House Living Room by DAE
Living room
Kitchen and dining
View from garden

Link to article online

Click here to view the project

Mississauga Bungalow Adds on – and Adds Value

Mississauga Bungalow Adds on – and Adds Value 150 150 info

Dave LeBlanc
The Globe and Mail
Published August 29, 2012

(The project was completed while we were called The Practice of Everyday Design)

What do you do when you’ve decided to stay put in your 1953 home, but a poorly executed 1960s addition with tiny rooms and seven-foot ceilings is cramping your style?

You tear the entire thing down and build a McMansion, of course. Just kidding. If you’re Phillip and Anne in Mississauga’s coveted Lorne Park neighbourhood, you take that 550 square feet of architectural deadwood and turn it into a dream space … with help from the right people.

The couple – who don’t want their surname used – turned to relative newcomer The Practice of Everyday Design, a multidisciplinary firm started by intern architects Antoine Morris, 31, and David Long, 28, in 2009. While this is the first architectural project for PED, Phillip and Anne were impressed with the duo’s forays into sculpture, furniture design – their “Stalac” coffee table now occupies pride of place in the couple’s new space – and out-of-the-box thinking.

The addition in question was a ‘pop up’ that interrupted the original bungalow’s hip roof over the two-car garage. Up a flight of stairs from the dining room was: a “wasted” hallway; a room that was too small to be a bedroom but too big to be a walk-in closet (so it became a storage area); a “cramped” TV room; a dated bathroom; and a so-so master bedroom. In other words, a lot of walls, doors and depression that didn’t encourage extended periods of lounging; worse, snarls Phillip, “where we hung our clothes was the best view in the house!” It’s true: the spectacular view of the back garden had been a missed opportunity since the couple bought
the place in 1990.

Beyond the spatial deficiencies, the addition was due for new windows, a new roof, and, well, hardwood floors wouldn’t hurt either. “I never had any intention of gutting it,” says Phillip, but that’s just what Mr. Morris, Mr. Long and Mr. Morris’ sister, Melanie (who worked on the project also) convinced the couple to do. In fact, it was more than gutted: the old walls and roof – with zero insulation – were demolished, leaving only the subfloor over the garage.

While all agreed the brand new space needed to be open, light-filled and lounge-ready, the couple was concerned it would cost them valuable storage space. Recalls Phillip: “Antoine said to us, ‘Look, this room has an enormous amount of area that’s wasted, where you’re walking across the floor from one storage space to another.'” Picking up the narrative, Mr. Morris says the key was to eliminate the “segmented” way the couple moved through the space: “We created it in such a way that everything is parcelled, but is also visible and therefore allows it to feel bigger than it is.”

“Parcelled” is good way to describe the new space PED created, as there are now distinct areas for TV watching, reading, sleeping, dressing and washing, but each parcel flows into the other. The first step was pitching the new roof to create generous ceiling height. To open up the floor plan, the bathroom was moved to the front wall beside the bedroom area from its previous (and awkward) location in the middle of the space. Now, sliding billowy linen curtains across a track cordon off the tub and sink area as well as the bedroom area; only the toilet gets a door.

Facing the new, marble-tiled bathroom are two ample closets: one built into the wall, the other freestanding. Between the closets is a wide dressing area. To allow light to travel freely, the freestanding closet stops well short of the ceiling, and its backside is clad in vertical strips of wood with small gaps in between. When standing in the TV-watching area, this backside becomes a wall behind the couch and a place to secure the staircase handrail. The overall effect is more like modern retail display than traditional closet.

And speaking of traditional, Anne and Phillip’s dŽcor choices run that way, at least on the main floor, with rich, dark pieces of mission furniture and ochre walls adorned with classic landscapes. Yet their new second storey is light, white, modern and, with its jaunty square windows, just a little bit quirky. This comes from establishing trust early on, says Anne, who at first told the team she didn’t want everything painted white, but ended up loving how it shows off “the shapes and forms.” Phillip was pushing for wooden bookcases, but was talked into white ones so the books would provide the colour.

“Everybody thinks they can do it themselves – they have their own taste and they know what they want – but we took a deep breath and said ‘We asked you to do it, so do it,'” explains Anne, “and we’ve not been at all disappointed. We’re quite amazed.”

“I don’t even know if ‘amazed’ captures it,” interjects Phillip. “We are ecstatic about it; we love waking up in the morning [and] we can’t wait to go up there at night.”

Despite this new firm’s name – The Practice of Everyday Design – there’s nothing ‘everyday’ about this renovation. It’s an innovative answer to the common question: without adding square feet, how does one make an older house young again?

View the project here

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