Ellis Ave House
Located on one of Toronto’s most beloved nature pockets, this Swansea renovation takes full advantage of a backyard on Grenadier Pond in High Park. Built on the forested hills that slope down to the west side of the pond, it has a very low profile from the street, but expands to a full three storeys at the rear. The mid-century house was redesigned with four bedrooms and four bathrooms for a total of 3,500 square feet of living space.
The original was a well-designed single-family house in the mid-50s, but it had since been divided up into a triplex. The systems and finishes however had not been touched, and were in dire need of updating. The building’s setting in the trees had great potential, but it failed to take full advantage of the views toward Grenadier Pond. The house also had the particular challenge of being located in a ravine area, meaning the dimensions of the house and its outdoor terraces could not be changed.
Inside, the new layout uses contemporary building materials to open the interior up to its surroundings, while also increasing privacy. Visitors descend to arrive at a front door set below street level, where a large glass door provides views of the sassafras trees beyond, which were an inspiration for the design. Once inside, a two-sided fireplace is used as a room divider, which heats the entrance and living room at the front of the house. The main floor is open concept, combining living, dining, and a contemporary kitchen, with a soaring 12 foot ceiling.
Throughout the house, the heating, cooling and electrical systems have all been updated to bring the 1950’s house up to and above current standards. The windows have energy-efficient low-E coatings, and their design and frosting pattern maximize views and privacy, and are also bird-friendly. The addition of new skylights minimize the need for electrical lighting.
One of the most challenging aspects of the Project was meeting the strict requirements of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which oversees urban conservation. We were dealing with a 1950s house in a TRCA-controlled ravine area. Altius could not change anything.The Globe and Mail
The design is really inspired by the patterns of the sassafras. It’s like looking through the tree trunks.The Globe and Mail