Laneway Suite of the Week: How an east-end family built a shimmering home in their backyard for $325,000

Laneway Suite of the Week: How an east-end family built a shimmering home in their backyard for $325,000

Featuring one bedroom, maple floors, plenty of natural light and a dramatic carport

This laneway lives in Blake-Jones.

The place

A one-bedroom, one-bathroom cantilevered laneway suite in Blake-Jones.

The history

In 2007, Jennifer Bain and her daughter purchased the bungalow standing on this plot of land for $405,000. When Jennifer and her partner, Rick MacKenzie, got married the following year, they knew they wanted more children and that their house would eventually become too cramped. By June of 2020, the two were finally ready to knock down the bungalow and build a dream home from scratch—one with enough room for their young family as well as guests. And that vision included adding a laneway suite in the backyard.

Related: A two-storey, two-bedroom modern bunker in the Beaches

The build

Bain applied to build her laneway suite in June of 2018, with the help of architect Kevin Weiss and contractors Carmelin Design and Build. The project would incorporate a Y column on helical piers to prop up the unit. Such a strategy allowed the team to avoid a costly excavation while preserving the roots of a mature red oak living on the eastern property line. Construction began in the spring of 2021.

The suite cost roughly $325,000. Bain expects her three kids (ages 11, 16 and 26) to save a ton on rent by living in it one at a time. Right now, it acts as a spare bedroom for visiting family and friends. 

The tour

Bain and Weiss were inspired by the space-saving layouts of sailboats and RVs. Case in point: the suite’s economical yet stylish bathroom, with a floating vanity and aquatic penny tiles. 

To save space, the home's layout was often modelled after those of RVs.

Attached is the south-facing bedroom, built with a sloped wall so as not to disturb the mature trees.

The sloped wall here was designed to not interfere with the mature trees.

The kitchen is equipped with lots of storage, a tiled backsplash and maple floors. That wall on the left is deep enough to hide the washer and dryer, more storage, and plumbing.

The kitchen is maple and heated.

This large window above the dining area was set at a right angle to the rear of the main house, allowing for natural light while preserving privacy. 

This window is perpendicular to the face of the home to bring in light while promoting privacy.

Turn around and you’re in the living room. The windows here provide illumination and cross-ventilation.

A view of the living room.

There’s a curved wall built into the structure of the home, which is sculptural but also gives the illusion of more space.

The curved wall gives the illusion of more space.

Here’s the staircase up to the open-concept living, dining and kitchen space.

Here's the staircase up to the main unit.

The humble corrugated-metal siding contrasts with the dramatic cantilevered carport. 

The front door and foyer.

Finally, one more look at the entire suite, with its funky Y column.

The Y column holding up the home allowed the owners to avoid excavation.

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