written by:
photos by:
April 25, 2013
A house from the 1880s that's narrow, small, and in terrible shape: is this the place for a great modern interior? In the hands of Toronto architect Heather Dubbeldam, it turned out to be exactly that. Her client, doctor Yash Patel, had a green agenda and a commitment to contemporary design. "I wanted it to be small; energy-efficient; and beyond that I let Heather and her associates figure it out," he says. "I let them run." Dubbeldam used a variety of strategies to keep it green (the tiny utility bills prove this), but also created remarkably rich spaces and textures in this small house and equally tight yard. Her remodel of the house kept its 1,450 square feet of interior space, but carved it into an open plan, and established strong visual connections between the house and the yard. Now both zones flow into each other—limestone, ceramics, cedar boards, and a row of beech trees all working together in subtle harmony.

Toronto doctor Yash Patel's home is an 1880 house on a quiet block in The Annex, a 19th-century downtown district. "This is a very pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood, and that’s important to me," he says. A modern garden by architect Heather Dubbeldam hints at what's inside.

Photo by 
1 / 7

Dubbeldam opened up the layout completely—long linear elements draw your eyes through the house to the backyard, and subtle details guide your eye there. One type of porcelain tiles, intended for outdoor use, stretches from the kitchen to the yard. "The backyard is small," she says, "but when you connect the house and the yard visually, they both seem so much larger."

Photo by 
2 / 7

A custom unit of sapele wood holds three masks that evoke Patel's East African heritage. Dubbeldam designed the built-in dining table out of solid sapele. The backsplash and counter are made of gray St. Marks limestone.

Photo by 
3 / 7

The hearth—lined with panels of industrial felt by artist Kathryn Walter of FELT Studio—is Patel’s favourite part of the house. "It's modelled after 1950s and 1960s modernism, when people had stone walls that looked like this," he says. "But it has a tactile quality as well. People touch it—and then they want to lean their heads against it."

Photo by 
4 / 7

A trellis made of ipe was designed to shade the interior from high summer sun; it’s one of several passive climate-control strategies employed by Dubbeldam. Along with a radiant heating system, they make the house extremely energy-efficient.

Photo by 
5 / 7

Upstairs, an operable skylight lets hot air vent straight out of the house, and also brings light in to the adjacent bathroom—through a frosted glass wall—and the downstairs.

Photo by 
6 / 7

Though Patel lives alone, he loves to entertain. In summer months, friends can gather at the outdoor table for some barbecue and have drinks on the sofa inside. Plantings of lavender, fragrant grasses, and a Japanese maple add colour in the carefully composed garden, which has a floor of tile and painted cedar slats.

Photo by 
7 / 7
a1 through house exterior front

Toronto doctor Yash Patel's home is an 1880 house on a quiet block in The Annex, a 19th-century downtown district. "This is a very pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood, and that’s important to me," he says. A modern garden by architect Heather Dubbeldam hints at what's inside.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016