A contemporary interpretation of the traditional Danish Sommerhus

Located on a spacious farmstead in Mulmur, Ontario is a collection of homes owned by Wanda Ely Architect Inc. clients’ tight-knit extended family. Year-round, the beautiful rural property acts as a family gathering place for vacations, celebrations, and quiet moments alike. Inspired by the family’s Danish heritage, the goal was to build a brand-new holiday home, or sommerhus, for the couple and their 3 children to use as an escape from the bustle of city life. By blending the core Danish design principles of simplicity, functionality, and restraint, with touches of Ontario rural vernacular, this project is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Danish Sommerhus that is rooted in both its local context and the clients’ family history.

The home is composed of two main sculptural volumes nestled into the surrounding wheat fields. The house was carefully oriented to prioritize views out to the forest beyond and to allow for optimal light inside. The landscape changes dramatically over the four seasons and acts as a lush, textural contrast to the simple black volumes.

As you approach the home, the two barn-like volumes reveal themselves. The public and private uses are split between the two volumes – the kitchen, living, and dining area are housed in one building, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are located in the other. The two volumes are connected by a glassy hallway with floor-to-ceiling windows. This glazed link acts as a threshold between public and private zones, and the feeling of exiting one building and entering another.

On the interior, the roofline of the building is expressed in the form of lofty, vaulted ceilings. Anchored by an extruded volume for the fireplace and a large corner window in the living room, the gracious open-concept room offers multiple distinct living areas within it.

Throughout the home, there is elegant minimalism that reflects a modern Danish sensibility. The stark palette of black and white is a hallmark of Scandinavian design and keeps the focus on the spatial qualities of the rooms, and the views out to the surrounding landscape. The high contrast palette is softened with touches of very subtle color and texture from the careful selection of light fixtures and furniture.

The layout of the home and placement of the window openings thoughtfully frames specific views of the surrounding landscape, creating a strong feeling of connection between the exterior and interior. The simple, yet sophisticated design allows the home to be a comfortable, functional, retreat from the stresses of urban life and celebrates the beautiful Ontario countryside in which it sits.

Design and info © Wanda Ely Architect Inc.

Images © Scott Norsworthy

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