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The Globe and Mail

A condo gets three scoops of design deliciousness

Known for his flamboyant resort hotel designs, architect Morris Lapidus once asked: "If you like ice cream, why stop at one scoop? Have two, have three. Too much is never enough."

Thomas Tampold, while perhaps more restrained in his architectural thinking, is currently enjoying three scoops of design: First, there's the 2006 top-to-bottom renovation of his family's condominium in an award-winning 1981 Macy Dubois building on Oaklands Avenue; his architectural practice on Queen Street West is thriving; and, lastly, he's the proud new owner of the Yorkville Design Centre in Hazelton Lanes.

How's that for too much?

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Despite the full plate, Mr. Tampold and his designs demonstrate grace under pressure. The condo is a wonderful composition of wood, drywall and stone "objects" that float, wrap, cradle and swoop, much to the delight of the entire family. "It's a little magical," he says with humility.

"Every day, when we come home, the space works for us," adds Mr. Tampold's wife, Carol Nash, co-founder of Alpha II Alternative School. "There isn't anything that we said 'Oh I wish we would have done it differently' … and we're able to move things around because we took into consideration all the things that we do and all the things that we ever would do."

And they can do many things, now that a few unnecessary walls, a fireplace that never worked properly and the formal dining area have been eliminated. If young Mik and Evi want to have friends over to play a board game, they can set up on the wrapping stairway surround that's wide enough for that purpose, just as it's wide enough to excel as the family dining spot.

Or they can take guests down the stairs to their shared bedroom, which reads like two separate rooms because of some clever space planning - including a chunk borrowed from the master bedroom in this two-bedroom condo - and leave Mom and Dad lounging upstairs on expansive seating that fills the area once occupied by the fireplace.

If the kids are upstairs using the stairway surround as an art table (both are very prolific) and Mom and Dad still want to lounge and listen to music a few feet away, a sliding screen purchased at Ikea offers privacy. In warmer months, the deck offers further separation, while still keeping this family of four within earshot of one another.

Or, if the parents decide to do the retreating, each has a workspace in the master bedroom; in the gorgeous master bath, there's a tiny, two-person jewel-box of a sauna. Also downstairs, in a formerly unfinished space, there's a hidden sewing station and a family computer workstation. Above this, an Ikea credenza has been flipped over and bolted to the ceiling as upper cabinet storage. The furnace and water heater are revealed only when tiny doorways are opened.

As a matter of fact, cubbies, closets, cupboards and reclaimed storage spots are everywhere in this 1,700-sq.-ft. condo, making it almost impossible to generate clutter. Though working with a much bigger space, Mr. Tampold's design reminds one of those tiny Tokyo apartments where every square inch matters.

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Touches of elegance peek through the pragmatism, however, especially in the "wet" rooms: In one bathroom, dark stone floor tiles were "dimensionally so perfectly stable" there was no need for grout; indirect lighting "floats" tubs and flat surfaces; and, throughout, unity is achieved via wonderfully textured riverstone-in-resin backsplashes and countertops - definitely three scoops of design deliciousness.

It's no surprise, then, that Mr. Tampold decided to spread his design wings and become a kitchen, bath and closet retailer about a year ago, when the Yorkville Design Centre came up for sale. "I love detail," he begins. "It's a combination of the wood, the stone, the stainless steel and the mechanics, the water and the lighting and putting it all together, it's really beautiful.

"I think when you come from a Scandinavian architecture background there's a real huge importance on the design of the home, and I grew up with so many additions and renovations and cottages and new houses; we were always building things," he says, thinking mostly of the home he co-designed in the early 1980s with his father, Estonian-born architect Elmar Tampold, of Tampold Wells Architects.

While his father, designer of the University of Toronto's Tartu and Rochdale Colleges, has been a lifelong mentor - "I wanted to be an architect when I was four years old" - he adds that a patient and gifted contractor has also been key to his success. Without Juri Jarve of Jurwood Construction, he stresses, the condo renovation, which took five years to complete, would never have come out as well as it did.

The same holds true for the Hazelton Lanes store, where the new façade is particularly striking. A composition of vertical dark wood elements and slit windows punctuated by red horizontal bands and white marble squares, it signifies the wonders of the high-end appliances and finishes contained within while also echoing elements of Mr. Tampold's condominium.

However, if you're looking for a triple scoop of ice cream, you won't find it there … yet.

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