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The Globe and Mail

A modern home takes Don Mills fast forward

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The Don Mills, Toronto home of Kimberly Au and Kenneth So, designed by architect Cheryl Atkinson. With a lush courtyard, lots of glass and a layout carefully sculpted to build on the strengths of the lot, it offers a contemporary update on the verdant suburban living that Don Mills was designed 50 years ago to offer.

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The street where Mr. So and Ms. Au bought was filled with mediocre builders’ housing. They had theirs torn down, and with Ms. Atkinson and local master builder Derek Nicholson, they set out to thoughtfully build new.

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Above the foyer, a bridge made of glass and cold-rolled steel connects the home’s two wings. The rear one is the showcase, an expansive, but perfectly proportioned, space with large windows that bring in vistas of the yard, and the park beyond. The room’s large scale is broken up by an informal mix of materials. A glass pendant lamp by Vancouver’s Bocci hangs over a massive dining table made from a live-edge walnut slab that the couple picked out themselves at a lumberyard in Cambridge.

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The countertops are in Calacatta Oro, a marble that has a rich chocolate-milk quality.

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The budget was relatively modest; the owners didn’t want their home to reach monster-home scale.

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Ms. Atkinson’s design put a twist on the typical Toronto house; rather than a long, narrow box with windows front and back, she suggested a house that stretched lengthwise across the lot. “This means you take advantage of the back views, with a south exposure over the park,” she says.

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The interior is enriched by the views of the surrounding environment. Upstairs, the couple’s master bedroom gets the same vistas, only improved by height: a corner window and balcony look over the greenway, “so we almost feel like it belongs to us,” Ms. Au says.

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