Don Mills House" Don Mills House

Don Mills House

Toronto, Ontario

Don Mills Ravine Home serves as a “cottage in the city” for a couple that loves to host and entertain. The generous lot falls away to a forested ravine, and the design takes full advantage of the private 5,000 sq. ft. urban oasis. Public spaces make up the length of the rear side of the house with expansive views and access to the backyard, pool, and terraces.

Backyard of Contemporary Toronto Ravine home with expansive curtain walls, large patio and exterior kitchen and pool with waterfall feature
Double height living room of modern Toronto home with couch, wide plank flooring, and sculptural chandeliers

Development of the program and layout was driven by the owners’ desire to host large events as well as smaller groups of guests, while maintaining the intimacy of a single-family home from day to day. Amenities include an outdoor bar served from the kitchen, a backyard pizza oven and barbecue area, a changeroom and bathroom accessed via the lower level walkout for pool users, a games room on the uppermost floor (with a treetop view), a wing of guest rooms at the second level, and a roof deck with gas fireplace.

The primary spaces are generous, with the home organized around a two-storey living room area with a double-height fireplace and curtain wall that connects the core of the building to the lush backyard and pool, which sweeps toward the ravine.

Open stairway and second floor with marble and wide plank wood floor
View of living room, dining room, and kitchen from second floor with view to the exterior patio through timber reinforced curtain wall

The open-tread steel and wood staircase allows natural light to penetrate from the third floor into the basement level; and at the second floor, this forms part of a bridge that divides the master bedroom suite from the guest rooms. A seamless connection to outdoors is provided on all floors including the basement with a stepped planter walkout. Large aluminum-clad operable windows in Douglas fir, a timber curtain wall, and sliding doors with glass guards act as Juliet balconies.

Living room view with large ribbon fireplace accented in dark double height stone wall in contrast to light interior
Kitchen with wood breakfast bar and stone countertop, hanging strip light and sliding counter door to exterior bar

Ledgerock veneer wraps around the main floor space and elevator core, and transitions from indoors to outdoors as a feature wall in the dining room. Flat lock and standing seam-metal panels clad the upper spaces and cover integrated rainwater leaders. Significant overhangs with fir soffits lessen solar heat gain on the large expanses of glass.

Timber reinforced curtain wall and double height fireplace in living room

The material palette was inspired by a rocky beach cottage, with soft greens, blues and greys. Oak, walnut, fir, zinc and stone compose the natural-material finishes and provide warmth and texture in contemporary spaces. Wide-plank white oak floors overlay hydronic radiant flooring.


  • Integration with the natural assets of site and terrain
  • Site-specific view and vista optimization
  • Natural daylighting
  • High-performance envelope design
  • Radiant heating
  • Heat recovery ventilation
  • Solar electric (photovoltaic or PV systems)
  • Low energy lighting and appliances (LED, CFL lighting and ENERGY STAR appliances)
Offset sitting room with ribbon fireplace and view towards Don Mill Ravine
Kitchen breakfast bar with stool seating and contemporary kitchen with stone backsplash

Natural light is abundant due to the large windows, shallow building spaces, and generous building setbacks, with minimal artificial light required during the day in the main areas. The completed home is a warm and inviting space that connects its users to a lush urban oasis, and provides respite from the stresses of city life.

Basement walkout with Ledgerock veneer stone, Douglas fir soffits, Zinc siding