By Lisa van de Geyn
Photography by Nav Sohi
Architectural designer Marin Zabzuni calls this home an interesting and unique build from conception to completion. The founder and owner of Toronto-based design firm Contempo Studio, Zabzuni met the clients of this remarkable abode when they were recommended by an acquaintance. Fans of Contempo Studio’s work, the homeowners had recently gotten engaged and were looking to upgrade their space and turn it into their forever home. The initial plan was to build an addition onto the house, but knowing they’d hopefully fill their home with children in the future, they opted for a new build altogether.
The project evolved into what stands today — a two-storey residence and one of the first few modern homes to be built in this particular pocket of Markham, Ont., which is north of Highway 7 between McCowan and Markham Roads. “There were a lot of existing bungalows back in 2017 when we started the design of this house,” says Zabzuni, who brought Zarcon Homes in to work on the build alongside Contempo Studio.
It creates the right ambiance to match the modern LA feel.
“Soon, new builds started developing in the neighbourhood and this teardown was one of the first on this street.”
Zabzuni says the homeowners wanted a fully modern look and feel, and not only did they want something very chic and contemporary, they also wanted to replicate that Los Angeles vibe in their Ontario suburb. “They really love that atmosphere and wanted to bring that cool feeling here. They’re very passionate people and contributed a lot to the design of the house.”
The first thing you notice when you drive up to the 3,200-square-foot place is the exceptional landscaping, as well as the gorgeous façade Zabzuni designed. “It’s my favourite part of the house. It’s very grand, very lush, elegant and sophisticated,” he says of the large precast stone wall panels and hotel-like smoke-tinted windows. “I also really like the landscaping. It’s a mature area and the greenery adds that pop of colour. It feels like a home in Forest Hill — it’s well put together and there was a lot of care and detail to ensure the exterior was very modern and had that California aesthetic.”
The builder and homeowners took the reins when it came to the interior of the house and opted for a black-and-white space with lots of bold brass accents. “There are a lot of little details and they put a lot of love and energy into creating the right ambiance to match the modern LA feel they were going for.” For example, in the powder room, the couple chose onyx vanities that light up and glow,
creating a moody air. And the heated driveway is done in a herringbone pattern, which adds a touch of richness and whimsy to the exterior. “These are really nice details that elevate and emphasize the house,” he says. The kitchen is done in a modern black-and-white palette with gold accents. An imported leatherette marble with an attention-grabbing texture was used on the wall and countertops, and the wall of black cabinetry is super sleek. There are also big European sliding doors at the back of the house that go out to the yard to make the transition from indoor to outdoor living more seamless. The back deck features a cantilevered area which offers protection from the elements. Underneath is a charming sitting area with a pizza oven and barbecue — perfect for entertaining.
“We were smart with our architectural and design decisions, and the homeowners love it,” Zabzuni says of the build. “A lot of energy, time and heart went into this project, and the clients, builder and I got to be good friends during this experience, which is always so great.”