Married architects Clarissa Nam and Peter McNeil of Toronto-based COMN Architects wanted to put down roots in their city—and they had a plan to make their dream a reality. "We were looking for a teardown or vacant lot right from the start," explains Peter. "Our goal was to find a property with development potential, allowing us to design and build from the ground up."
Eventually, they came across a dilapidated single-family dwelling on a busy corner in Toronto’s east end. "It took about six months before we decided to put in an offer on this particular site," says Peter. "After analyzing many different options for this property, it became clear that a two-unit semi-detached scheme would not only work well from a development standpoint, it would be perfect for our own home as well."
Their resulting project, called SemiSemi, consists of two 1,000-square-foot semidetached homes—one for the architect couple, and one to be used as a rental property. Both homes are organized vertically with a split-level configuration that optimizes space on the tight 16' x 78' lot.
The two homes are mirror image of each other—except for a few minor details. "The main difference is the entrances," explain the architects. "The north unit’s entrance is off of the sidewalk at a mid-floor level and also has a powder room, while the south unit’s entrance is at the main floor level."
The south unit (which the couple currently rent out) is slightly larger, with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The north unit, where Clarissa and Peter live, has one bedroom, one full bathroom, and one-half bath. "We use our lower level as a home office and guest bedroom with a Murphy bed."
The couple's favorite part of their new home? The courtyard off their bedroom. "In busy locations like this, it can be difficult to introduce a lot of natural light without sacrificing privacy. The courtyard was a great solution for this, while also serving as an intimate outdoor space."
Architect of Record: COMN Architects
Builder/General Contractor: Peter McNeil and Clarrisa Nam
Structural Engineer: LMS Engineer
Landscape Design: COMN Architects
Lighting Design: COMN Architects
Interior Design: COMN Architects
Cabinetry Design/Installation: AyA Kitchens