Every moment counts

“It’s probably the smallest space I’ve ever worked with,” says Tim Wickens. As such, the recently completed 160-square-foot master-bedroom suite set in the attic loft of a house in Toronto’s Summerhill neighbourhood presented a “pleasantly challenging puzzle” for the local architect. Homeowners Stephanie and Todd Mackie liked the work he’d done on a friend’s place and subsequently contacted him about their own third-floor conversion. They had only two requirements: that their queen-sized bed face the outside treetop view and that an en suite bathroom be somehow shoehorned into the restricted quarters.

Acquiring more room by pushing through the roof of the 1880s-era heritage structure wasn’t an option. So instead, Wickens installed a three-foot-wide bathroom under the ceiling’s front slope, cannibalizing an extra foot of depth from the second-floor bedroom below. A central pier clad in Calcutta marble conceals the plumbing stack and divides the shower area from the powder room, yet the whole is still tied together by a tiled bench that runs the length of the outer wall. This compact-but-seemingly-spacious en suite sits behind floor-to-ceiling frosted glass that acts as both a privatizing wall and the bed’s headboard. At night, light from the bathroom’s incandescent floor spots rises up to create an intriguing backlit glow.

Mosaic tiling carries through from the bathroom ceiling to the bedroom bulkhead, subtly connecting the two spaces. The bed itself, thanks to a cunning reveal, appears to float atop the room’s bleached white-oak flooring. It looks out, as specified, over a southerly view of roof deck and trees through an opposing wall of glass with an access doorway. To either side, built-in cabinetry lacquered the same white as the walls provides necessary clothing storage. But the problem of where to put the rest of one’s stuff when dual glass bathroom doors preclude bedside tables took a little more ingenuity. It was Stephanie Mackie who came up with the original suggestion of concealing laundry hampers in twin roll-out drawers in the bed frame. Wickens parlayed this concept, also installing handy overhead reading light switches, phone and computer charging stations and book shelving into the frame.    

As a finishing touch, he turned the “wasted space” of the L-shaped stairway opening into an attractive and practical structure of glass balustrade and built-in “floating box” vanity. 

Client Stephanie Mackie calls Wicken’s work “thoughtful in its use of space, with every detail, every line perfectly placed.” The new master suite, cleverly conceived, replete with light and glass, makes for an ideal retreat, and appears as far removed from the attic it once was as creativity could take it.  cI