Marlborough House

Toronto, Ontario

In this extensive renovation, the many original interior partitions of this modestly sized three-storey residence in midtown Toronto were removed to create a remarkably welcoming and luminous house characterized by its open relationship to the landscape.

Designed for a family of four, the conversion of the house from a small but typical single family home to one that accommodates the work and living spaces of two professionals and those of their children revolved around opening the house up and making multi-purpose spaces out of what were once discrete and single-purpose rooms. There are views of the neighbourhood and the sky from every point on the ground, second and third floors.

The design strategy revolved around drawing additional light, air and views from above. A dramatic three-storey atrium space in the centre of the house, topped by operable skylights, suffuses all three floors with an abundance of light, and passively ventilates and cools the house. Designed by Omer Arbel, Bocci cast-glass pendant lights hung at different heights in the atrium create an optical shift that playfully distorts the scale and height of the void when viewed from below.

Elegantly detailed millwork in ash, along with polished pale stone flooring on the ground level, unify the interior of the house with the crushed gravel courtyard outside — featuring a small cedar garden pavilion. On the interior, dark-bronze anodized window frames offer a striking contrast to the matte white interior walls and pale floors, while providing attractively graphic frames for openings on the exterior façade, complementing the buff brick cladding.

photo: Tom Arban