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On Top of the World: a rooftop oasis on a loft townhouse

Spectacular sunsets are the bonus feature of this 950-square-foot outdoor room that sits on top of a Petrino Lofts townhouse near Carlingwood

(Photography by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio)

The Petrino Lofts Townhouse Project was all about creating spectacular spaces. And since the building footprint did not leave much room for a yard, builder Tega Homes gave buyers the option of turning the flat roof into a usable outdoor space. Mike Gennis took the concept and ran with it. The result is a rooftop oasis: an outdoor room with spaces for resting, reading, lounging, cooking, eating, soaking, showering, and — yes — partying. Gennis, who says he and his family use the rooftop room much more than they would a grass-topped backyard, is still getting used to his great new space. “I once fell asleep reading a book, and when I woke up, I wondered where I was.”

The rooftop deck was planned during construction of the 3,000-square-foot multi-level house. Access is via a stairway that leads to the centre of the space.

In a multi-level house, who wants to run down to the kitchen for a drink? There’s no need to here: the rooftop includes a fully functional kitchen with a massive gas barbecue, storage cupboards, a fridge, and a sink with running water — all shaded by a pergola.

The bar that fronts the kitchen provides a natural focal point for the deck. There are five bar stools made of cast aluminum and a decorative hanging ball to get conversations started.

The house is oriented east-west, and the eating area is on the east side. That makes it especially great for breakfasts. The eight-seat outdoor dining set is cast aluminum.

The floor is finished with square-cut limestone. The same limestone was used to cap the bar and the grill area. Because of weight concerns, stucco with a brick design was used to face the bar.

Looking to get some sun? There are three lounge chairs on the deck, two of which are visible in this photo. The advantage of a rooftop deck is that you can catch the sun at almost any angle. “The geography of the place is perfect,” says Gennis. “These lounge chairs face southern exposure in the afternoon.”

At treetop level, the view from the hot tub stretches off to the west — over to Carling Avenue, Carlingwood, and the western sky beyond. It’s not serenely quiet, but Gennis says that’s okay. “Here in the city, I don’t mind hearing the city. That’s why I moved in from Barrhaven. Besides, the traffic on Carling really dies down after 9 p.m.”

The hot tub is also positioned along the western side of the deck — the better to take advantage of sunsets. The secret was planning it as part of the building process. The entire substructure had to be reinforced to allow for the weight of the hot tub.

What could be more natural when outdoors than to sit around a campfire? The natural-gas firepit is the focal point of the living area and is located on the west side of the garden beyond the kitchen. Teak sofas and chairs are shaded by an offset patio umbrella that eliminates the need for a centre pole. The sofa cushions can be covered when it rains. But if they do happen to get wet, Gennis says they dry quickly. “You just stand them up on end, and the water runs out.”

When the sun sets, Gennis creates the mood with candles. However, the main lighting comes from an outdoor low-voltage lighting system that includes accent lighting on the pergola and on the stairs leading up to the hot tub. And when it gets chilly, the outdoor room has a heater.