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covet garden

inspiration grows here

ra e e-y sary e r th iver ann ssue! i

janna & dean small and sustainable living


covet garden

HOME helping you tell the story of YOUR home

winter 2013


The print version of Covet Garden hits the stores this November. It’s bursting at the seams with beautiful pictures of your favourite spaces. PLUS brand-new places, inspiration, DIY and more! Don’t miss out on this keepsake edition. Visit our online shop, pre-order your copy and have it delivered directly to your door! Or send a copy to a friend as a gift.


Visit our blog for even more inspiration!


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DONNA GRIFFITH photographer

ALISON REID copy editor

We’re so happy to have Donna shooting for Covet Garden. You may have seen her work in magazines such as House and Home, Chatelaine and Better Homes and Gardens.

Alison, longtime editor and treasured Covet Garden contributor, has been with us since our first issue. She has also worked on fiction and non-fiction books for various Canadian publishers.

contents 4

the space

Rooms that grow

28 Q & A

30 the style

Shoes that shine

32 the project

Herbal essences

37 the drink

Loving lavender

40 inspiration


welcome We couldn’t be happier to celebrate Covet Garden’s third anniversary than with Janna and Dean’s green urban home. Marking a milestone means honouring the past, as Janna and Dean do with treasured objects from their families. But we are eager to look toward the future! This house was built as a testament to forward-thinking ideas about green living, sustainability and the importance of supporting the microeconomies of neighbourhoods.

Cover illustration by Jessica Reid



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Janna and Dean’s sustainable, adaptable small-footprint house

photography by Donna Griffith



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thespace space the “Bricolage is the best way to describe our furniture,� says Janna. This table is from the Sheridan College student sale.



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the thespace space opposite page: The kitchen island was designed to be a “flowing thing,” says Dean. The lower table was incorporated so their two sons, Henry and Eric, could do their homework while their parents cooked. “Now it’s all laptops.”

THIS IS THE STORY It would take every page of this magazine to talk about all the ways that this space is the perfect poster child for greener urban living: the pouredconcrete floors keep things cool in the un-airconditioned home in summer; radiant heating makes toes toasty in the winter; and windows and a skylight harvest light so it’s not necessary to turn electric lights on all the time. But for us, When they found a lot with a little wooden workers’ the most interesting way the house has a small cottage, the building could not be salvaged. Janna ecological footprint is by having a small physical and Dean decided to collaborate on a demonstra- footprint. “We were trying to keep it modest and build as small as we could,” says Dean. tion house that would promote sustainability. of a house in Toronto’s Little Italy that was built for change. Architects Janna and Dean knew that they always wanted to build a new house, but they were also committed to the ideas of sustainability: to decrease waste, use green materials, increase density, limit unnecessary commuting, and maintain middle-income housing.


Installing a cement backsplash at the same time as pouring the concrete slab flooring helped keep costs down and reduce material waste. Looks like a million bucks too!

FITTING IN WITH the working-class neighbourhood was important. When their family moved into the area, most homes housed two or three generations. “We wanted to build a modern house in a way that’s respectful of the street,” says Janna. “To be really flexible was a higher goal for a demonstration house. Everything has to have two or more uses so the house can expand and contract instead of its owners having to move every time there’s a change in circumstances. Contemporary houses can’t do that.”

feasibility of building sustainable housing in the city made the collaboration relatively easy. “We divided up the work,” says Dean. “I’d get up early and build models, and Janna would stay up late and draw plans.” The couple—who are as fun and engaging as they are serious about their work— were also pragmatic about their goals.

“We have different aesthetics,” says Janna, “but we don’t start off with a style, we start off with a set of ideas.” Adds Dean, “Both of us have the design philosophy that the architecture is there to Their shared goal of demonstrating to others the support living in it.”


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the space


opposite: The light fixture by Castor Designs illuminates the dining table from Janna’s parents. “I come from a big family, so it has three leaves to expand. This is the world’s best place for a party!”

IN EVERY LIFE change is a constant. The challenge is how to address it. “Every time we moved it was a different time in our lives,” says Janna. “First it was no kids, then little kids, then teens.… The experimental part with this house was how to build for a family of four when you know two will be moving out in a few years?”

“The architecture of the building lets multiple things fit in. It’s neutral, so you can put old and new together.”

The kitchen counter is made from recovered fir. “When they used to transport wood in log booms, 20 percent of it sank,” says Dean. “These pieces came out of the Ottawa River.” They simply sanded To keep things fluid, Janna and Dean wanted the and oiled them down and the old wood glowed. He interior architecture to be neutral. “If the space adds, “I’ve never understood why people think that had a specific style, you’d have to match furniture a modern house has to be cold. I’ve always liked to the layout,” says Dean. wood because it gives a house a warm effect.”


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the space



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the space opposite: One of the most notable features of the space is how much natural light floods the rooms. Windows that open into the backyard and a skylight help illuminate the many collections.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE of old and new coming together is the dining table and the liquor cabinet that came from Janna’s childhood home in Montreal. “My dad and his brothers had a furniture company, and they invested in another one that made Scandinavian-style furniture.” The low table in the library came from Dean’s parents’ home in Vancouver. “You take them with you,” says Janna. “Why wouldn’t you?”

Throughout the house there are a variety of collections—including artwork, ceramics and textiles. Some come from family, some from their own collecting. “We have a wide bandwidth of interests,” says Janna. Objects are carefully arranged by theme or texture or shape. That’s their secret for assembling an eclectic assortment. “You don’t have to put everything together.”



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the space Folk art and family portraits make the library/ guest room feel welcoming.

WHEN YOU CLIMB the open stairs to the second floor, you’re greeted by a wonderful wall covered in family pictures and mementos. Family history informs much of the house’s character. Dean’s mother, Ruth, was committed to social justice issues. Janna’s mom, Rya, was a well-known ceramicist who hung around with the artist/dealer Jack Pollock and the artist Norval Morrisseau. “Janna’s mother was a real collector, “ says Dean. “She collected folk art, First Nations art, lots of things from Quebec. She had a great eye.”

The landing area also houses the library and serves as a guest room (a curtain pulls across the room for privacy). Open space is important in a green build because fluid design helps light and air circulate. Says Janna, “The skylight and windows let light in but also give you something to look toward or look up and out so you don’t feel closed in.” “In the winter I feel claustrophobic,” says Dean. “I like to have a view. Windows are also important because we don’t have air conditioning.”



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the space opposite: The vanity is a re-purposed Steelcase office cabinet from the 1950s.

IN A SMALL SPACE every design decision must be carefully thought out. But in a way, simplicity has served to make the space more relaxed. For example, there is only a powder room and a bathroom to serve the first and second floors (the basement belongs to the boys—though one has already moved out of the house). “We were trying to keep it modest and build as small as we could,” says Dean. “So we thought we could lose the en-suite bathroom.”

strates how to do it without giving up the sense of the bathroom as a retreat.

In fact, with the windows facing the street, you almost feel as if you’re in the coolest-ever treehouse. That’s because the spacious windows open to an impressive array of plantings. Once the house was built, says Dean, “the first thing we planted was a lot of trees.” The native trees help cool the house by providing shade, but they also lend an incredible If one of the goals of sustainable housing is to live ambiance inside. Leaves rustle. Birds chirp. Sunmore efficiently, then this elegant room demon- light dances through the branches.


opposite: Janna has an amazing collection of jewellery, most made by local artists. The tapestry was commissioned by Janna and her brothers and sisters from the Toronto artist Barbara Klunder to celebrate their parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.

THIS SENSE OF A sylvan scene becomes more complete when you enter the master bedroom­—the first thing you notice is the garden, which is sited at window level. It’s planted with any number of things—Janna and Dean keep experimenting with different flora. Theirs is the first purpose-built residence in Toronto to incorporate green roofs. The useful part of having a field floating outside your bedroom is that a green roof functions extremely well as an urban heat island reduction strategy (city areas being notably hotter than rural ones). “When it’s hot, you can cool the


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bedroom by watering at night,” says Janna. Now that the family has been in the house for almost nine years, they’ve found many unexpected benefits. “One of the things about building this house with the green roof investment is discovering the integral relationship between inside and outside. It’s like homesteading—which is not something you usually think about in downtown Toronto. You become aware of the connection between building and landscaping. You have to think about practical things like north, south, east and west orientation and water drainage.”

the space


opposite: Even though the master bedroom is two storeys up, the rooftop garden outside the window makes it feel otherwise.


feeling and fragrant aromas of herbs wafting into the bedroom make it seem as if you’ve been transported to a faraway field. “I love how the whole roof seems alive,” says Dean. He and Janna say that the openness of the house makes them feel more in tune with the city. And unlike the treetop view from the bath and library, the vista from the bedroom, says Dean, gives the feeling of living on ground level.

house is evolving, sustainable housing is an ever-changing field itself. This duo never tire of learning new things (which might explain the stacks of bedside reads in the bedroom). And as new ideas about sustainable building and urban landscaping emerge, Janna and Dean are keen to study and explore them further. “There are places like the dirt lab at U of T to point out this whole new way of thinking of site and soil and habitat,” Another great benefit of living with a green roof says Janna. We didn’t even know that there was a is that Janna and Dean are constantly rediscov- dirt lab at U of T. And the conversation veers away ering their space. Just as their demonstration from interiors to exteriors and back again.


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the space


opposite: The gardens change from season to season. “We planted this time with a lot of edible plants to encourage biodiversity. And that propelled an interest in a whole lot of other things.�


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the space


opposite page: Planning their demonstration house to be in harmony with its urban setting was “all about massing, scale, setback and landscaping,” says Janna.



throughout the years been a constant experiment. For example, a third green roof was added later. “We wanted a kitchen garden, but the shade from the trees didn’t allow vegetables to grow,” says Dean. “So we put a garden on the garage roof.”

The couple plan to adapt and nurture their space once again when their last son moves out. They’re going to turn the basement into a two-bedroom apartment to maintain the population density of the house.

Janna returns to the theme of homesteading. “I’m reading a book called My Antonia by Willa Cather,” she says. “It’s a most compelling book about growing up in the Midwest. The inherent skills that people brought to the wilderness, how they adjusted, how much ingenuity they had …” Janna and Dean feel that we all still have that ability and ingenuity to adapt to new things.

In short, we like the way Janna and Dean think— really think—about living and living spaces. Which got us to considering the ways that neighbourhoods and houses and the things in them can and should be nurtured. “People look after things because they need them to survive or because they love them,” says Janna. “As architects we’ve been able to expand and build on that.”

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the space


who? Janna Levitt and Dean Goodman cofounded the recently renamed LGA Architectural Partners in 1988.

family photos: Janna, age five, and her dad; Dean, age three, and his mom; Henry and Eric some years ago

Janna is known as “the optimist” at the firm because she brings out the best in people and circumstances. In addition to her work as a practicing architect, Janna has participated in “theoretical” architecture/art-based projects such the House/Home exhibition at the Photo Eclipse Gallery, the Stellar Living exhibition at Mercer Union and Sacred Space at the new Architecture Gallery at Harbourfront Centre for the Arts. Dean has been described as “an opportunist at heart” who began his career as a contractor, then studied architecture in order to to make thoughtfully designed buildings. Most recently, he won much acclaim for his work on the Centre for Native Family and Child Well Being in Toronto. There he collaborated with clients to create a cedar longhouse overlooking the main floor, a ceremonial roof garden with native plants, including corn, squash and tobacco, and a healing lodge.  


• LGA Architectural Partners

What’s the best thing you’ve ever giv 28

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the profile

What’s your greatest strength? JANNA: Curiosity.

What do you carry with you everywhere?  JANNA: My dad’s wedding band.

What’s your greatest weakness? JANNA: Thinking I can fix everything with enough application of thought and creativity.

What object have you kept since childhood? JANNA: My teddy bear. My eldest brother got it when he was a baby and it was then passed down to the “new baby” four times until it reached me.

What’s your favourite place in Toronto? JANNA: Walking along the shore of Lake Ontario—anywhere in the city. If you could travel in time, what era would you most like to visit? JANNA: Paris between 1920 and 1939!  Whose talent do you wish you had? JANNA: I wish I had the facility to learn new languages.

janna’s current playlist: 1. Monoswezi, The Village 2. The Band, Music from Big Pink 3. Jay-Z, The Blueprint 4. Paul Simon, Graceland 5. Iris DeMent, Infamous Angel

what janna’s reading:

ven someone? JANNA: Two children



We knew that Janna was a kindred spirit, but when it comes to shoes she is also our sole-mate. Here are our picks inspired by Janna’s excellent shoe collection Chie Mihara Colmena, $425

Audley Geta, $290

Cydwoq Blend, $286

Arche Musaca in black, $378 John Fluevog Desmond in black canvas, $219


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the style


Hasbeen Covered High Model no. 834 in black, $207

Camper Allegra 21747, $140

Bryr Phoebe shearling boot in sage, $425

Mercy shirtdress

Janna is a big supporter of local businesses and designers. Here are a few of her faves. Mercy ( Designers Jennifer Halchuk and Richard Lyle make great clothes with classic silhouettes, and with their shop, Gaspard, they also “contribute to the culture of the city.” Comrags ( A fan since Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish started the label, Janna admires the fact that the clothes are timeless and the designers are “in it for the long run.”

Miz Mooz Strawberry in black, $140

Ewanika ( The first time Janna tried on one of Trish Ewanika’s pieces, she couldn’t believe the fit and the beauty of its construction.


GROW YOUR OWN Planting edibles isn’t just about growing tomatoes. Here are some ways to use pretty, tasty herbs to infuse your food with flavour photography by Donna Griffith


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the project


1. Harvest chive blossoms when they first bloom and are fresh. You will need about 3 to 4 cups of flowers per jar. RInse the flowers well and dry them on a paper towel. 2. Pack the flowers in a Mason jar and top with a star anise. 3. Pour in vinegar to cover the herbs. Before adding the lid, place a layer of wax paper between the jar rim and the lid, as vinegar should never make contact with the metal of the lid. 4. Let sit for 2 weeks, then strain flowers out, and the vinegar is ready to use and will keep in your cupboard for up to a month.

CHIVE BUTTER Janna makes these tasty butter pats to spread on bread or to add an extra kick to her favourite Marcella Hazan (doyenne of Italian cooking) pasta sauce by sprinkling a bit of fresh oregano on top before packing them up. • 1 cup soft butter (we used salted, but you can use unsalted)


• 1/4 cup chives, chopped finely

Any herb can be used to add a savoury element to vinegar. We chose chive blossoms as they were growing in abundance when we visited Janna and Dean’s rooftop garden.

• wax paper cut into squares (approx. 3” square)

• fresh herbs—we used chive blossoms

2. Spoon 2 tbsp of butter mixture onto wax paper squares and press each lightly with a fork.

• vinegar of choice (we used Champagne vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is also a favourite of Janna’s) • Mason jar • wax paper


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• plastic wrap 1. Add chives to butter and mix well.

4. Fold the wax paper around the butter mixture and wrap with a layer of plastic wrap to keep them sealed for storage. Place the packets in the freezer and thaw as needed.

the project



covet garden

HOME helping you tell the story of YOUR home

winter 2013

Covet Garden in print! The print version of Covet Garden hits the stores this November. It’s bursting at the seams with beautiful pictures of your favourite spaces. PLUS brandnew places, inspiration, DIY and more! Don’t miss out on this keepsake edition. Visit our online shop, pre-order your copy and have it delivered directly to your door! Or send a copy to a friend as a gift. 36

issue 37

the drink

FLOWER POWER A touch of fragrant lavender adds unexpected punch to this creamy and delicious cocktail photograph by Jessica Reid LAVENDER HONEY CREAM COCKTAIL

11/2 oz vodka 1 oz heavy cream 1 oz of egg white 1 oz lavender honey syrup (recipe below) 1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and gently shake for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a few lavender blossoms. LAVENDER HONEY SYRUP

1/4 cup lavender honey 1/4 cup boiling water 1. Combine ingredients. Stir gently until the honey is dissolved, then let cool. Once cooled, syrup should be stored in an airtight container.


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the blueprint Architect-designed finds make great (and practical) statement pieces to fit any space

2 1 3 13




1. Stefano Giovanonni and Elisa Gargan Gnam bread bin for Alessi, $78 2. Michael Graves for A for Jenaer Glas creamer and sugar bowl, ₏32 5. Eames Small Dot Pattern Pillow, $150 6. Alexan Bangle in sterling silver, $1,400 8. JDS Architects for Muuto Stacked Shelving, set of 4, $766 9. A Chair-Tubular, $1,605 11. Zaha Hadid 5-Piece Cutlery Set, $395 12. Alvar Aalto for Artek lounger 710 15. CFA Voysey Apothecary’s Garden wallpaper in light grey, $210 single roll


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8 5




Alessi kitchen timer in white, $41 3. Wrk-shp Pendant Light in red, $115 4. Wilhelm Wagenfeld nder Girard for VItra Design Museum Wooden Doll No. 18, $180 7. Frank Gehry for Tiffany Torque Arne Jacobsen four Louis Poulsen table lamp in white, â‚Ź675 10. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Brno 0, $1745 13. Karim Rashid Sculptural Scissors, $26 14. Ettore Sottsass for Alessi Salt Grinder, $125


in the next issue... Shaun and Todd’s design philosophy is clean, lean and on the scene! Come inside this clever, colourful and witty home.

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Can’t wait until next month for the new issue of Covet Garden? Check out our blog for more ideas and inspiration!