Cheskey Residence by Qb Design

  • James Scott

    Went on Youtube a few weeks ago and watched the interview John had with the architect. Very interesting.

    Here’s the link:

  • Brad W

    Thanks for the link James. Enjoyed it.

    I must confess my initial reaction when I saw the addition not positive. After considering the space, listening to John and the architect, I understand the design, what it achieves and why. The more I see it the more I like it and I certainly appluad the owner for having the foresight to proceed with such a bold plan.

    In discussing a connection with the backyard, I would hightlight the width of the stairs. In this project, they traverse the full width of the outdoor room and that is important because people can move in and out in many directions. The stairs can also be a destination where people sit and relax. To often we see narrow stairs which constrict flow of traffic to a single point.

  • Doug Roberts

    I initially thought that I was looking at the front of the house, and, like Brad, my first thought was “why would they do that to such a nice looking house”. I have always loved old houses and have only recently begun to gain an appreciation for more modern residential architecture, but combining the two is still a bit “out there” for me. It reminds me a bit of Frank Gehry’s very modern “crystal” addition to the otherwise very traditional Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

    Having said that, I do like the transitional nature of the covered outdoor space. The front porch of our infill is a very similar space, but smaller (and no crimson moon), and we really like spending time there, sitting in the sun on the steps and “watching the world go by”.

    I am curious, however, as to why the architects did not extend the left side (when viewing from the back yard) of the second floor of the addition forward to fully integrate it into the sloping roofline of the existing house, in the same fashion as they did on the right side. Stopping it short as they have makes the left side of the addition appear very disconnected from the existing house, creates a potential problem area for water infiltration as water runs down the sloping roofline and encounters the front wall of the addition, and creates a dead space on the second floor that could have otherwise been put to good use to enlarge the two tiny second floor bathrooms. Any thoughts?

  • Doug Roberts

    PS: Am I missing something or is there no railing on the second floor deck off the master bedroom?

  • Brad W

    Doug – The ROM Crystal was conceived by architect Daniel Libeskind and it has garnered both praise and criticism. Perhaps you are thinking of the Art Gallery of Ontario redesign which was done by Gehry.

  • John Brown

    Thanks for posting the link to the video interview with Kevin Angstadt. I had forgotten that it was on You Tube. His description of the project is really compelling.

    I have invited the QB3 office to monitor the site today and respond to some of your questions.

  • Meg

    This project has made me think of the possibilities that enclosing an outdoor space at double height affords over just single storey. There’d be room for trees, great lighting possibilities and a large area to use for outdoor blinds which could add some interest – a bit like the red moon.

    I like brad’s comment about the stairs.

  • Brad W

    QB3 – nice design and kudos for building the project – its great to see the architects get their hands dirty…

    What inspired the crimson moon? How has the design been received in the community?

  • Paul C

    Well done QB3. I particularly like how in the interviews the architect describes how elements of the design came together as the designed evolved (i.e. the porch/stage at the tail end and the moon story) The blue exterior cladding appears to have some very subtle lines in it. Was this intended to pick up on the cladding from the original home? Thanks very much for sharing your work here.

  • Louis Pereira

    I recall seeing the interview a couple of ago. There is a Part 2 in case you missed it, which explains the ‘crimson moon’ concept.

    The renovation is a bold gesture but commendable to both QB3 and the client. The story of the deck being used as a stage for kid’s theatre was especially endearing.

  • Qb

    Hi all, thanks for having us on here. And John, thanks for the great presentation of our project–great job! We’ll try to address questions as best as we can between meetings, etc.

    So, in response to Doug’s question about the addition’s connection to the house: The decision was really about cost. Where the bedroom knifes into the existing house (the right side), there used to be a dormer. So we took down the dormer and essentially ‘attached’ the addition, no extra work. Knifing the addition in on the other side (the left side) where the bathrooms are would mean more demolition, reframing the roof, and a lot of effort with moving plumbing. The water drainage issue is addressed with a cricket gutter between the addition and existing house.

  • Qb

    And to Brad about the crimson moon… that was a nod to the local outhouses of the area, back in the day when they carved a crescent moon into the door. It became crimson when Kevin and I were walking to the grocery store one day, talking about the project and wondering about an appropriate color for the moon. As we passed a couple deep in conversation, we overheard him say “crimson moon”. Kevin and I looked at each other wide-eyed, and hysterical with laughter. What other color could we have made it?!

  • Qb

    And about the neighborhood’s response to the project… who knows. I’m sure it has been met with mixed reactions, but we do know that the neighborhood kids put on some major performances back there, that draw a large audience. Between the ‘stage’ and the big oak tree, its downright Shakespearian.

  • Inga

    This example has to have been chosen to generate discussion, John!

    I really enjoy your site and all of the thoughtful contributors, however here is where ordinary folk like me and architects part company. Perhaps it is the disjunctive feel that people who spend their entire days looking, thinking and drawing buildings find fresh. To me, the modern piece crashed into the back of the classic cottage does justice to neither. While this might work in an urban setting where a jumble of periods & styles coexist, in a traditional neighbourhood setting, it appears as architectural ego triumphing over convention. If I was a neighbour, I would be so grateful for trees to blot out the overpowering backyard windows. I look forward to your landscape plan to see if you can rescue the homeowners from the feeling of disrespect for the neighbourhood generated by the design. My prosaic view…

  • Robert T

    While the space planning is good, I don’t like the design. There is no connection at all to the architecture of the original house. I would imagine if the owner’s every sell the home they will have a difficult time.

    It seems that every home presented is of a modern style. I have only been viewing the Slow Home site for a few months now, but I have not yet seen a traditional styled case study home.

  • John Brown

    I appreciate your point of view. Thank you for making the comment.

    Architecture is a big tent, so to speak, and a wide variety of opinions, tastes, likes, dislikes, is vital to a vibrant culture. I think the key comment you make is about context and the appropriateness of the design’s response to it.

    As I understand it, the project exists in an old established neighborhood with an eclectic mix of house types. Each generation (and family) has added their own sense of “the good life” as a new home, a renovation, or an addition. I would argue that in this case, the context is a wide variety of styles and types more than an individual one or two.

    Maintaining that eclecticism is key to the continued health and vibrancy of the neighborhood.

    I don’t think we need to like everything in the world from a stylistic point of view. I know that I don’t. But I also know that this isn’t really what is important. Good design is important and I think this project is very well designed in terms of space planning, response to the garden, etc.

  • Terri

    Like Inga, I immediately thought this project may have been chosen to make us all think a little harder about design. My initial reaction was “Whoah! What happened there?” And then my editor’s brain responded with, “What about consistency?”

    After viewing the details, I do think that this addition has created some very compelling spaces–especially the aerie-like master bedroom and the airy two-storey outdoor room. Definitely bold design from the exterior, but a little too daring for my sensibilities, as I have a traditionalist’s heart. That said however, I agree that the original home was sorely lacking a connection to an amazing back yard.

    I wonder if cost was an overlying factor in the evolution of the design (such was hinted at with the discussion about not attaching further than at the original back dormer). To extend the back with a two-storey space and still maintain the traditional design would have cost more, and even then the original’s integrity is still questionable. This approach is more honest.

  • James Scott

    Interesting, how this is one of my favourite homes in the project catalogue and others simply cringe and have to look the other way. I love this place, it allows the owners to make a statement about who they are. Fresh, inspiring, energizing, fun, edgy, what else can be said about this home? I can just imagine the excitement of the owners when they saw the completed project for the first time.

    I’d love to see John, the QB team and the Slow Home gang of posters dissect my home and give me and my family a goal for renovations. I think these guys did a terrific job.

    Just my a ordinary folk, imho.

  • Cheskey

    We just got the email telling us our house was the case study today so we thought we’d respond. Thanks, John, for the great presentation and to everyone for expressing their thoughts.

    First, to set minds at ease, please know that the neighborhood has not been torn asunder by our addition. We didn’t go into this with the idea that we were going to build what we wanted and to hell with traditional sensibilities so we – and Qb – had a care. We’re a close knit bunch here and Qb very kindly opened themselves up to any questions our neighbors had during construction. Our neighbors in turn felt, I think, respected throughout the entire process.

    One thing about the importance of the traditional. Our deck provides a place for the many kids in our neighborhood to stage an end-of-summer talent show. This will be the fourth summer that we’ll have kids hanging a curtain they made themselves, inviting all of our neighbors young and old to our backyard and then entertaining them with music, jokes, pet tricks, etc., until the sun goes down. The community would tell you that it’s a tradition and that these are the traditional elements that are most important to us.

    Is the addition different? Sure. But we didn’t want a vinyl sided cube on the back of our house and, sadly, that’s what most people were offering. We wanted something that would open up the back of our house the way the front is open. We wanted something that would pull the outside in while showing us a lush yard that beckoned us outdoors. And lastly, we wanted something that would continue the indoor flow of our house so that finally we could say, “Yes, this makes sense.”

    Qb provided all of that. And a crimson moon.

  • Paul C

    Thanks so much for joining in on the conversation, sharing your experience and congratulations on achieving what you desired.
    Tradition can come in so many different forms.

  • John Brown

    I echo Paul’s comments. Thank you very much for adding your voice to the discussion. It is really great to hear from the client.

  • Brad W

    WOW. Qb, Cheskey thanks for joining this week.

    Cheskey – I hope you enjoy many more concerts under the crimson moon.

    John – An interesting and challenging case study – you saved the best for last. Thanks so much for all your time.

  • Louis Pereira

    I feel that Qb and the client offered a genuine architectural response to arrive at this design and one that suits the family’s lifestyle and living patterns. It’s bold and daring yes, but i’d rather see this than the often poor attempts of making new houses look like old houses.

    In our design studio, we reject the notion of ‘imitating’ history. I have great respect for homeowners who wish to maintain the original character of period homes, but not at the expense of replacing them with false and artificial materials

  • Grace

    I still haven’t mastered paintbrush, but I eagerly await the project and discussion each day. I, too, was startled by my first view of the addition. Startled, but drawn in. I immediately thought of Frank Gehry’s chainlink fence addition decades ago in his traditional neighborhood. I’m with Louis regarding those omnipresent new ‘old’ houses. And thanks to Brad regarding Gehry’s addition to the AGO. I spent a week in Toronto years ago and visited the Henry Moore plasters every day at different times to see them in the changing light. Now I’m planning a trip to see the Gehry redesign and I’ll take in Libeskind ROM Crystal as well. Thanks to all.