Don River House and Garden

Don Valley, Toronto

A revision of luxury living, we transformed a conservative and affluent home into a sustainable, holistic, and bio-diverse setting that exemplifies social and environment stewardship.

In one of Toronto’s affluent and conservative neighbourhoods, and on the bank of the Don River, this project site included two houses surrounded by manicured, non-native gardens. Our clients sought to create an atypical environment for their multi-generational family that would foster biodiversity and wellness.

We began by demolishing one house and masterplanned the site into a series of connected outdoor rooms. The landscape now includes a forecourt, a bird and butterfly wander garden, the pool and pool house, formal and informal decks with seating areas, a rain garden, shade gardens, a family-lawn, and a sand play and children’s exploration area that can easily evolve and mature alongside the children. In addition, we remediated the riverbank, preserving the existing mature trees, and transformed the existing swimming pool into a saltwater pool to improve the health of both the environment and the bathers. We also planted the site with diverse and robust native species and commissioned local artists and craftspeople to create site specific fencing and art installations.

Instead of replacing the original house as is typical in this neighbourhood, we modestly altered aspects of the interior to complement the family’s lifestyle and to integrate the house with its surroundings. On the second floor, deeply planted green roofs increase nature views and a new living room/dining room “pavilion” opens the ground floor to expansive deck terraces, further encouraging the weaving of interior and exterior spaces. We also commissioned local experts to create custom furnishings and carpets to suit the specific qualities of the home. 

Now richly populated with vegetation, birds and butterflies, the property is a leading example of private environmental stewardship, and the multi-generational family can enjoy the long-term ecological and social benefits, suggesting new possibilities for luxurious living.

The outcome of these various moves is a marriage of new and old that saves and enhances what was good about the original building, such as the horizontal lines and the deep overhang of the eaves. But LGA’s gestures have also transformed it from a quite ordinary house into a garden pavilion suitable for a large family whose members like to enjoy life together.

– John Bentley Mays, The Globe and Mail


Globe and Mail – (November 2013) An intricate weave of home and garden near Toronto’s Don River
Dwell – (September 2013) Starry Night: Outdoor Wall Light Installation