A Swiss army knife runs through it

A multi-purpose walnut joinery element runs through the ground floor of this home – offering a variety of interiors solutions from room division to appliance concealment

Interiors by Ancerl Studio

From the design studio:

Situated on Toronto’s lush ravine system, the intention from within was to open up the interior to the vast landscape beyond. 

A solid front facade, with a tucked away entryway afforded the owner the privacy they desired; while the rear, stepping down to boast 4.2m-high ceilings, opens up almost entirely with glazing, creating a spectacular forested backdrop.

The contemporary family home, which is approximately 70% glazed, called for warmth from within, achieved through the material palette and furnishings. 

White walls, ceilings and selected millwork paired with white ash engineered floors drives attention not only to the ravine but to selected features within.

One such feature is the linear central unit which spans almost the entire length of the home's main floor, from entry to rear. 

We have playfully dubbed this unit ‘the Swiss army knife’.

The Swiss army knife, as its name suggests, holds a multitude of functions within its apparently solid and streamlined form.

The home was commissioned as a home for a family of seven, the objective being to create a clean, contemporary space while not compromising on the functionality.

This central unit, which at first glance appears to be quite simplistic with its flat cut walnut face, offers an array of functions upon further exploration.

The unit as a whole creates division between the main floor spaces – on one side the more open public living spaces of the kitchen and living room, while on the other, the more private program of the formal dining, lounge and office resides.

As you enter the home through the 2.1m-wide pivot door, you are met with not only the vista of the ravine ahead, but introduced to the Swiss army knife to your right. 

In the entry foyer, tucked away within this unit, you find the stairs ascending to the second floor and opposite that are steps that descend into the private office.

The walnut then extends alongside you as you descend the main foyer stairs into the living room.

The next function you’re met with is the hidden floor to ceiling slab door which opens onto the staircase to the basement. This door, along with the door across from it, can fully fold in to create a clear passageway between the living and dining area on the other side.

Within the living room, two bi-fold pocket doors open up and hide away, revealing the TV and open shelving.

The final feature at the end of the unit is a three sided open flame custom fireplace. 

This fire can be enjoyed from not only the living room and dining room, but also from the outdoors when the 12.2m hangar opens to extend the living space to the backyard.

An additional set of bi-fold doors is accessed from the dining room, and opens to reveal a wet bar used for entertainment in both the dining room and lounge. 

Continuing along the unit, and entering the lounge, the walnut breaks away to showcase a pair of floor-to-ceiling, temperature controlled wine fridges. 

Through the lounge you enter into the office space which benefits from both open and closed storage.

The design premise of the Swiss army knife is carried throughout the residence; on the second level in the primary suite, in the hidden laundry, and entries into each new space, giving us the ability to achieve our goal of creating a modern aesthetic while combining immense functionality for a family of seven.

Credit list

Architecture and interior design
Design team
Nicholas Ancerl, Tara Finlay, Ashley Robertson, Robert Miguel, Daniel Karpinski
Structural engineer
 RPS Engineering
 Titanium, Fortina facade system, corten, walnut
Architect of record
Daniel Karpinski
Landscape design
 Ofsign – Ancerl Studio
MAIA Legacy Builders
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) International Interior of the Year – Runner-up

Designed by: Ancerl Studio

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Brandon Barre

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