House on Grenadier Pond

Toronto, Ontario

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 sq. ft. of living space.

The original was a well-designed single-family house in the mid-1950s, but it had since been divided into a triplex. The systems and finishes however had not been touched, and were in urgent need of updating. The building’s setting in the trees had great potential, but it failed to capitalize on 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 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 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.

One level down, a master bedroom provides forest views, and a balcony for access to nature. The ensuite bathroom has a separate glass enclosure with a steam shower, double vanity, and water closet. A second bedroom on that level also has an ensuite bathroom.

Master Bedroom freestanding bathtub park High Park view balcony ensuite bathroom
Living Room wrap around fireplace wide panel wood floor

The lower level was maintained as a legal two-bedroom apartment with its own private entrance. Zoning bylaws allowed this because of the house’s history as a triplex.

“Altius Architecture Inc. designed the home in collaboration with the owner which resulted in one of the most contemporary homes in the neighbourhood. They capitalized on the view and made use of many modern materials, including custom metal cladding on the exterior, expansive glass panels, and frosting on certain windows to maximize privacy.”

Ravine Home With a High Park View

 – Toronto Star

Throughout the house, the heating, cooling and electrical systems have all been updated to bring the 1950s 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.

“The design is really inspired by the patterns of the sassafras. It’s like looking through the tree trunks.”

– The Globe and Mail