Sunken Trea­sure

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DECOR AND IN­TE­RIOR DE­SIGN TRENDS COME AND GO. Re­mem­ber wa­terbeds, shag car­pet­ing and wall-to-wall wood pan­elling? Or the sunken liv­ing rooms of the ’70s, as seen on the Mary Tyler Moore Show? Fash­ion­able or not, step-down fam­ily rooms make good sense. For one, they’re a way for ar­chi­tects to cre­ate dis­tinct liv­ing ar­eas in open­con­cept homes and, for an­other, these dropped rooms gain height with­out af­fect­ing the roofline. They si­mul­ta­ne­ously ap­pear taller and more in­ti­mate than other parts of the house.

Stu­dio Arch’s de­ci­sion to give this Hume­wood house a sunken liv­ing room be­gan with the re­moval of a tired back ad­di­tion and the crawl space below. The ar­chi­tects carved out the liv­ing room and added ceil­ing height glaz­ing, which brings light into the heart of the home and dou­bles as a walk-out. To in­te­grate the space with the rest of the ground floor, they lined up the liv­ing room’s mill­work with the home’s spine: one cen­tral el­e­ment that runs the full length of the house, amal­ga­mat­ing stor­age, plumb­ing and struc­tural el­e­ments. Rather than hide this 84-cen­time­tre-wide “back­bone,” the ar­chi­tects ac­cen­tu­ated it to vis­ually con­nect the rooms. White oak floor­ing runs through­out, but along the spine, Stu­dio Arch ran the wood per­pen­dic­u­lar to em­pha­size thresh­olds and mill­work. Now the ground floor has a con­tin­u­ous look as well as clearly de­mar­cated zones. There’s noth­ing ’70s about that.

 Euro­pean white oak floor­ing from Moncer; fire­place from Odyssey; sofa by Peaks & Rafters.

 Cae­sar­stone-clad is­land by Mar­ble Plus; ta­ble from Restora­tion Hard­ware; light­ing by Ap­pa­ra­tus.

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