Before this couple built their home in Ritchie, they lived in Macewan, off Ellerslie Road, with a roomy yard backed by a long greenbelt. But who needs a big backyard when the largest urban greenspace in North America is a short bike ride away?
“We fell in love with this area, and we love riding down to the river valley,” she says. They also fell in love with the fact that this prime lot was even available to build on, since it’s under 50 feet and therefore un-subdividable for builders looking to develop it. This couple left it whole, then made the most of every square foot, working with Timber Haus to build a laneway suite above their garage and furnishing the basement with a full kitchen and an entrance of its own. “We like being in the city, with neighbours close by — we just like the energy of people,” he says.
And while they love being outside, they expanded the building’s footprint to 2,100 square feet, leaving a modest yard that’s filled with a multi-level deck, small patch of grass and absolutely no garden.
“We definitely aren’t green thumbs,” she laughs.
“We’re more like gangrene thumbs,” he says, knocking one of the dad-est dad jokes ever out of the park across the street where their three kids have acres of area on which to play. And even when they’re old enough to play there by themselves, they’ll be easily observed through the giant front window, one of the big musts they wanted from the builder. “I want all the natural light we can get — I’d live in a glass shoe box if I could,” he says.
The interior’s inspiration came largely from a trip the couple took to Reykjavik, Iceland, where they saw the Scandinavian hygge design philosophy up close. It’s all about keeping things cozy and clutter-free, often with warm wood features on a mostly white base palette, though things get a bit darker in the kitchen with its black cupboards and ultra-durable dekton countertops, where he loves to make a mess. Archetype Kitchens provided cabinetry.
“We often joke that she adds the softer elements, because if it was up to me, I would live in a beer refinery — stainless steel everything, marble, cold, white, black, like vampires get murdered here. My daughter once asked me ‘What’s your favorite colour?’ And I’m like, I don’t know, black, white, grey. And she was like, ‘Dad, those aren’t colours — those are shades.”
Once kid number three came along, they stopped renting the basement suite for more room, but it turns out the kids are people persons too. “They’ll play down there when their friends or cousins are over, but they usually just grab their toys and come back up to play in the living room, because they just want to be close with us.”