Homes - Gardens

Garden design: Contemporary outdoor oasis

A neglected backyard is transformed into a contemporary oasis with a masterful mix of materials, plants and outdoor elegance.

Losing a bidding war is a setback for any potential homeowner. But for Toronto couple Kurt Budnick, an account director at a design firm, and Tom Henriksson, a graphic designer, it was the conduit to their eventual dream home. “We were devastated when we lost the bid, because the house was in Cabbagetown, our preferred neighbourhood, and unlike anything we’d seen – an 1800s exterior with a modern interior and garden,” says Kurt. But if they couldn’t get the house, they vowed to get the look: “We wrote the owners and asked for the contact info of their architect, Monica Kuhn. We told her once we found a place, we wanted her to transform it,” says Kurt.

Less than a year later, they bought a three-storey, semi-detached Victorian in the same neighbourhood and enlisted Monica to give it a modern makeover that would continue into the backyard. “The garden in the other house they loved so much was enclosed and private,” says Monica, “but it acted as another room with distinct areas for enjoying a meal or lounging. Its greenery was also low maintenance, which was a must for this busy couple.” Her plan: maximize space in the 17-by-90-foot lot, increase privacy, and bring in garden designer Terry McGlade of Terry McGlade Garden Design.

Creating spaces A view of the garden from the third floor reveals its separate areas for entertaining, along with an arbour and a small shed that stores gardening tools.

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