Heaven Above In Queen West Toronto

On Argyle Street in West Toronto, just north of Queen Street’s famous Gladstone Hotel, architect Wanda Ely has created her own oasis of relaxation.


Photo Courtesy of Andrew Snow


A few years ago, Wanda and her husband John realized that, with two growing children, they had to either move or expand their dwelling.

Out of necessity, Wanda drew up plans for a third floor extension.



Given the previous owner had already done a lot with the original dwelling, Wanda and her husband John didn’t have to do much upgrading.

But they did lack a space of their own. So they dedicated the existing house to entertaining and their children, and conceptualized the new third level as an adult’s retreat.

The exterior is clad in a wrap of cedar distinguishing the new contemporary third floor from the yellow brick of the original building.

The cedar has quickly weathered making the extension less conspicuous.


Photo courtesy of ©Andrew Snow


At the rear of the house Wanda incorporated a roof terrace aligned with the alley bellow.

The terrace’s south side extends to eye level to avoid unwanted views and accidental voyeurism. 

Built-in planters filled with wild flowers and grasses create a natural contrast against the city back drop.



Wanda took advantage of the opportunity to create an open concept space plan where day-to-day living is integrated into one space.

Even the roof terrace is connected to the indoors through the clever use of large windows and glass doors, where the use can vary by season in our variable Canadian climate.

An oversized glass door can slide to create indoor outdoor living in warm weather.

For cooler days or quicker access, she installed a smaller hinged door to the side.



In the third floor addition, the only exception to the full open master suite is the water closet, which occupies a small corner of the washroom closed off by inconspicuous white walls.

The door exits in front of the custom-built bath and sink combination, which forms the wet area.



To create a distinction of the spa and sleeping zones, Wanda used stone in the wet area and broadloom over hardwood in the dry area containing the lounge and sleeping space.

The floor-to-ceiling cabinets that flank the bed also frame a long window on the far side of the stairwell.

This cleaver trick helps to visually expand the space.



Don't you love it? I do!

Click here to see other inventive project by Wanda Ely

And check out A-frame Inc. or Andrew Snow's other photography.


Researched and Written by Robin R. V Whitteker, undergraduate student at OCAD University in the Environmental Design program.

Posted In: Ontario

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