Don Mills House

Toronto, Canada

The new 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 square foot 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 still 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 change-room and bathroom accessed via the lower level walk-out for pool users, a game 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 program revolving around a two-storey living room volume with a double height fireplace and curtain wall that connects the core of the building to the lush backyard and pool stretching back 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 third floor down into the basement level, and at the second floor forms part of a bridge that divides the master bedroom suite from the guest rooms. A seamless connection to the outdoors is provided on all floors, including the basement with stepped planter walkout. Large aluminum-clad Douglas Fir operable windows, timber curtain wall, and sliding doors with glass guards acting as Juliet balconies brings the outdoors in.

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 the main floor volume and elevator core, and slides from indoors to outdoors as a feature wall in the dining room. Flat lock and standing seam metal panels clad the upper volumes and cover integrated rain water leaders. Significant overhangs with fir soffits mitigate 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. Engineered wide plank white oak floors sit atop 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 & 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 large windows, shallow building volumes, and generous building setbacks, and minimal artificial light is required during the day in the main spaces. The completed home is a warm and inviting space that connects its users to a lush urban oasis, and provides respite from the stress of city life.

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