From a Flower Bulb Factory to an Entertainment Hub

From a Flower Bulb Factory to an Entertainment Hub

By Emily Shapiro
A former flower bulb warehouse becomes a bright home fit for large-scale gatherings.

When Cruickshank’s, a beloved Toronto flower bulb distributor, shuttered its doors in 2001, the owners left behind a three-story home and warehouse with a rich history. Several years later, when the weathered building went up for sale, its new owner saw the space as an opportunity. Using the history of the site as a source of inspiration, the buyer commissioned Roundabout Studio to convert the two buildings into a single cohesive home with a focus on music and entertainment.

The repurposed home, which formerly housed famed flower bulb distribution company Cruickshank’s, is now a local landmark in its own right, standing out on the street as a modern reminder of the building’s history.

Determined to expand the home and bring in light, Roundabout Studio focused on growing the space vertically and incorporating clean lines, natural materials, and as much open air as possible. The owners kept the interior palette minimal and light, wanting an easily traversable space for large-scale events and fundraisers of up to 200 guests. The open-plan kitchen and dining room, as well as an interior courtyard and double-height performance space, makes these gatherings possible.

The home’s emphasis on light and linearity is evident even from the street, where carefully placed windows and a combination of stained cedar and Eternit cement-fiber panels create a stunning silhouette.

Beyond the space’s function as a public space, the owners were insistent that their home reference the site’s exterior location as well as its history. The three-bedroom home is located on a busy Toronto thoroughfare, and the interior space hints at the site’s location through carefully placed windows and a series of large-scale skylights that filter in natural light from the outside. Furthermore, the home calls attention to the building’s former life as a bulb warehouse through its use of materials reclaimed from the original home. Roundabout Studio also incorporated a large-scale light fixture in the interior courtyard that is ornamented with an abstract tulip motif, a design that’s repeated in several smaller perforated window screens inside. This reference to Cruickshank’s reputation for high-quality and interesting tulip bulbs keeps the building’s history alive in a modern, light-filled home. 

"Inside," says designer Daniel Harland, "we wanted to keep the material palette fairly minimal, especially since many spaces look onto each other." Most of the millwork is a combination of quarter-cut American black walnut and acid-finished cold-rolled steel. The artwork is by Dana Prieto, the coffee table and side table are by Hollis+Morris, and the area rug is by Kelly Wearstler.

The kitchen also displays a reliance on natural materials and soft colors. For the wine storage area, Roundabout Studio used reclaimed wood from the original building. The new dining room table also utilizes repurposed studs salvaged from the building’s demolition. The kitchen stools are from Avenue Road, the dining room table is custom, and the pendant light is from Dark Tools.

The emphasis on linearity and natural materials continues into the master bedroom, where the flooring is a brown leather plank floor from Torlys. The bedside lights are from Dark Tools.

The owners host fundraising events throughout the year for a variety of local causes in the home’s public spaces. A double-height performance area is perfect for entertainment during these gatherings, during which local talent often performs. The artwork is by Jen Mann.

An interior courtyard provides even more space for entertaining, as well as another opportunity to reference the building’s history. Backlighting transforms this 16-foot Cor-Ten steel light fixture into an image of super-sized tulips, a nod to Cruickshank’s history. To create the design, a heavily pixelated image of tulips was translated into perforated steel.

Inside, perforated window screens reference the light fixture in the courtyard, "offering an abstract, fragmented glimpse of the tulips inside," explains Harland.

Another peek at the perforated interior windows, which are made from cropped sections of the steel wall in the courtyard.


Get the Dwell Newsletter

Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.