A Toronto period house gets an old-meets-new update to suit a family returning from the U.K.
A Toronto period house gets an old- meets- new update for a family returning from the U. K.
“I was hesitant to choose upholstered dining chairs,” says one of the homeowners, who found great caned bentwood alternatives. She did indulge her love of marble here: “We weren’t brave enough to do marble kitchen counters, but this tabletop felt less risky.” DESIGN, Croma Design, cromadesign.com; ARCHITECTURE, Jennifer Turner Architect; Decorator’s White CC-20 WALL PAINT (except in master suite), Benjamin Moore; DINING CHAIRS, Design Within Reach; SIDEBOARD, RUG, ombré BOWLS, Elte; CHANDELIER, Brendan Ravenhill Studio; CANDLESTICKS, CB2.
Besides its gorgeous bones, it was the history that endeared this gracious house to its current owners. “The same family had lived here for 40 or 50 years, and we pictured ourselves doing the same,” one of them explains. “We knew it was our forever home.”
The homeowners, who now have three children, aged six, eight and 10, were living overseas in London when they purchased this stunning 4,000-square-foot Edwardianstyle house in an established midtown Toronto neighbourhood. “When this house came on the market, we bought it knowing that we wanted to move back to Toronto at some point,” she says. “We just didn’t know exactly when.”
Built in 1929, the home was architecturally stunning and teeming with potential, but renovations over the years had left it dark, dowdy and dated. So after renting it out for a year and a half, the couple decided to spruce it up before moving in. This meant imbuing its traditional envelope with the contemporary aesthetic they love. “We were inspired by London, where beautiful old buildings are updated with modern elements to amazing effect,” says the owner.
They enlisted Ryan Martin and Amy Kent of Croma Design in 2013 – at first collaborating via latenight phone calls from across the pond – to strike the perfect juxtaposition of old and new in a space suitable for their busy young family. Top priorities included brightening the interior, enhancing flow and making it feel more connected to the exterior.
Key to effecting the desired changes was putting on an addition at the back of the home. “The old garage that was there blocked the view of the beautiful back garden,” says Ryan. “So replacing it with a family room that includes a wall of windows and sliding doors helped bring the outdoors in.” In addition, it flooded the space with light and allowed for a large open-concept kitchen.
In the rest of the house, original architectural elements like wainscotting, hardwood flooring, leadedglass windows and a stone fireplace were restored to underscore the home’s character and charm. “Then we struck a balance by bringing in furnishings that have a bit more of a modern look but still work with those historic lines,” says Ryan. The
Dominated by stained wood panelling, the dining room was dark and uninviting.
ABOVE Mouldings accentuate the living room’s original Tudor Revival-style stone fireplace, while leaded glass windows (which the previous owners had drywalled over) lend charm. Sleek furniture tempers historical elements for a current look. ARMCHAIRS, TASK LAMP, Elte; custom COFFEE TABLE, Commute Design; SIDEBOARD, RH; SIDE TABLE, EQ3; SCONCES, Ridgely Studio Works; RUG, Crate and Barrel; Coniston Water ARTWORK by Barbara Macfarlane, Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery; black BOWL, CB2.
ABOVE The new addition allowed designers Ryan Martin and Amy Kent to expand and reconfigure the kitchen. “The owners were torn between wood and white cabinetry, so we included both,” says Ryan of the mixed stained oak and lacquered cabinets, which boast integrated recessed pulls for a clean look. Custom CABINETRY, Gibson Greenwood; COUNTERTOPS, Caesarstone Canada; BACKSPLASH TILES, Ciot; STOOLS, Kiosk Design; FAUCET, Roman Bath Centre.
RIGHT With the old vestibule enclosure removed, the front entry feels airy. Contemporary pieces, such as the console, let the historic architecture shine. CONSOLE, CB2; RUG, Elte; PRINT, Ron Eady.
Plentiful yet dysfunctional cabinetry gave the kitchen a closed-in feel.