+Tongtong Refreshes a Mid-Century Pool House in Toronto

PROJECT NAME Pool House
LOCATION Toronto
FIRM +Tongtong
SQ. FT. 1,000 SQF

Try to imagine the Swiss Army knife of interiors, compact and packed with functionality. Yet there’s no Alp in sight. This pool house is in Toronto.


A clean-lined pavilion today, the mid-century structure was an outdated eyesore, the victim of haphazard renovations, when its owners brought in the architecture firm +Tongtong. The first thing that John Tong did was to make the roofline a strongly articulated brow that appears to float above the facade’s cladding of cedar slats and expanse of glazing. When the three glass doors slide back, the transition from the deck to the indoors is practically seamless.


Into a mere 1,000 square feet, Tong squeezed multiple identities: public and private, work and play, day and night. That’s because the owners  needed to provide occasional accommodations for their grown-up kids visiting with friends. At other times, the pool house doubles as a studio and an entertaining hub for the husband’s business. “It had to be able to dress up or dress down,” Tong says. “The multipurpose aspirations really pushed the opportunities.”


One such opportunity is represented by the long table anchoring the public room. It’s a living area when the table is at cocktail height. But remove the top to flip the base, and you have a dining table. The top is salvaged wood, the base hot-rolled steel, like the built-in banquette with storage for firewood. An existing fieldstone chimney continues the theme of brawny natural materials.


Most impressive of all the multitasking elements is the volume standing between the public and private rooms. In the former, it presents a wall of lacquered paneling that opens to  reveal audiovisual and IT systems. On the private side, blue laminated glass fronts enclosures for the shower and the WC. Major drama.


When this part of the pool house is in changing-room mode, George Nelson’s bench is the perfect spot to shed your towel after taking a dip. On the nights when guests are staying, Tong’s experience designing boutique hotel rooms truly comes through. He made sure to incorporate a Murphy bed, closets, a minibar, and an espresso machine.

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