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3 Small Spaces That Re-Imagine Backyards

These outdoor spaces let their owners get away, but without the hassle of leaving

By Designlines

Toronto, the city of homes, is also a city of yards – much of them misused or outright wasted. Instead of leaving their backyards fallow, these three homeowners built small sanctuaries and workspaces to get the most out of them. Below, a round-up of our favourite behind-the-home small spaces.

Renaissance Architecture

Rather than knock down (or continue to ignore) the crumbling garage behind their Christie Pits property, this homeowner brought in Anya Moryoussef Architect to transform it into a home office and place to store art, books and models. Inspired by the studiolo at the Ducal Palace in Gubbio, contrasting poplar and birch plywood creates depth and delineates space – and is a nice callback to the original’s generous use of hardwood panelling – while the floor-to-ceiling window in front blurs the line between outside and in. See the full space here.

Live-Work

When an entrepreneur and historian needed a new home office, she tapped Barbora Vokac Taylor to update the coach house behind her Annex property. But she wasn’t just looking for one-and-done workspace: she wanted it to be a comfortable spot for house guests, too. The dual-use space is made possible with a dual-use room divider that, on one side, forms a headboard while concealing the bedroom, and on the other, encloses the minimalist workspace. Check out how it all came together here.

Toolshed Chic

After renovating his home, architect Oliver Dang, founder of Six Four Five A, still had a shambles of a backyard. The solution: a cedar-strip clad “shed” featuring an asymmetric frame and carrara marble entryway. Small flourishes aside, it’s practical structure. Dual skylights let in plenty of natural light, while shelving integrated into the studs saved money on expensive cabinetry. Plus, as Dang’s home office, his commute has been reduced to the walk across his backyard. Check out the full build here.