Light is the focal point of this modern family retreat in Toronto.
On a leafy residential street, Paul Raff Studio Architects created a family-friendly home where light takes center stage. Dubbed the Counterpoint House, the modern design offers a bold counterpoint to the more traditional homes in the surrounding Toronto neighborhood. A nod to the musical term, Counterpoint House is composed of contrasting notes of light and space, ultimately resulting in an open and inviting respite, perfect for the daily activities of the active family of four.
Composed of 220 aluminum "light shelves," the solar reflector screen is the focal point of the front façade. The home takes advantage of its Southern exposure, using the reflector screen to funnel sunlight and warmth deep into the interior space.
The horizontal aluminum slats that make up the reflector screen help cut down on glare as light flows through the front of the home. Interior walls are the canvas for a delicate movement of light and shadow. The screen, explains architect Paul Raff, "creates a beautiful pattern of reflections that shift across the space minute by minute, and hour by hour."
The study features floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that bring the outdoors in. Space-saving custom walnut desks are accented by a Pixo Optical LED Table Lamp, an AJ table lamp, and a 1958 Eames Management Chair.
According to Paul Raff, the biggest design challenge was creating a functional home that would accommodate the family's regular activities (dining, music, play, homework) all on one level. This was solved by "collaging spaces of different shapes and sizes together, and by interconnecting them all with a very open and seamlessly integrated kitchen." The airy family kitchen features Loire limestone floors, BassamFellows Tractor stools, and an Eames molded plastic chair.
The leafy backyard is the backdrop for the family's dining room. Walnut hardwood flooring adorns the space, along with a vintage Danish modern dining set and sideboard.
"We composed the house to have its highest, brightest space in the middle," says Paul Raff. Warm wood stairs lead to the second floor, which houses guest bedrooms, bath, and a kitchenette for the family's frequent visitors.
The upper two levels of the home are set back from the street, increasing privacy and allowing light to flow uninhibited from the front clerestory window into the communal living spaces. On the top floor, the children's bedrooms are strategically veiled from the street by the slatted reflector screen.
Light illuminates the back of the home at night. The Vicenza flamed basalt exterior and floor-to-ceiling windows are a bold counterpoint to the house's more traditional neighbors.