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August 6, 2012

Young architects often design homes for their parents. But for Toronto's Julia Knezic, it was an especially intimate job: her mom Susan Farkas's new house is next to her own. When the property became available, she lured her parents into moving from their suburban neighborhood. "My mom said, 'Fine, but I want a new house.' "

It was a deal: Julia designed a new 2,100-square-foot open-plan house, with generous public rooms and only one bedroom, for the site. The process became more intense when her father passed away—and more so as Julia gave birth to her two kids. But Julia's mother moved in, and welcomed Julia's clan to live in the basement as they remodeled their own place. "This was conceived as a house for one person," Julia explains,"but the idea was to make the spaces as comfortable as possible for the whole family." And with an intergenerational mix of decor and two happy kids, it's working out fine.

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Interior of a modern house in Toronto designed by Julia Knezic
Farkas—preparing a snack for the grandkids—deferred to her daughter about the design of the interior. "She obviously trusted my taste," Julia says. "She never shied away from the modern aesthetic."
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Modern dining room with Danish teak chairs and table
The Danish teak dining set belonged to Susan's sister-in-law.
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Modern white galley kitchen with Bulthaup cabinetry
The galley kitchen, in classic white, is the one splurge within the interior: it was custom made by Bulthaup from their B1 series. A narrow window, with a frosted bottom panel, balances views and privacy.
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Modern living room with a Case Study bed from DWR, a table by Bookhou and a lounger by Brothers Dressler
In the living room, Julia and Nick's furniture—a Case Study bed from DWR, a table by Bookhou and a lounger by Brothers Dressler—shares spaces with a teak hand-me-down. The backyard, enclosed by a cedar fence, is shared between the houses.
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Moden office with yellow sofa and custom millwork
Custom birch millwork, fabricated by Toronto's Gibson Greenwood, defines a home office space on the second floor. Susan brought the yellow couch at right when she emigrated from Hungary in 1969.
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Skylights in a modern home
Operable skylights help ventilate the house, which has no air-conditioning; a glass railing helps bring light down into the dining room. Susan loves the reveal detail on the handrail at the top.
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Modern wood-and-steel staircase
Julia designed the stair, which has no risers and only one steel support beam, to bring light into the lower floors.
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Modern house with ipe facade designed by Julia Knezic

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