The renovation and expansion of this 130-year-old Victorian home on a narrow lot in a heritage neighbourhood involved a total overhaul of the interior, a third floor and rear addition, and subtle hint on the front façade of the changes within. The redesign of this modest-sized home of 230 SM for a family of five involved updating the house for contemporary living, incorporating sustainable technologies and materials, and an improving the connection to the outdoors and natural light.
The heritage front façade of the house was maintained while the rest of the house was transformed on the interior and exterior. The rectilinear exterior gives way to fluid forms on the interior, to create a feeling of expansion within the small footprint and bring an element of surprise to an older home. As a professional ceramicist, the client’s connection to sculpture and pottery influenced the flow of the home and was a source of inspiration for the design. Tactility and a sense of craft were foundational in every element of the design, evident in details such as the curved smoothing of right angles and the choice of materials and fixtures. The tension between the crisp exterior and soft curves on the interior is felt throughout the home.
Underpinned by an aesthetic of fluid lines, the house’s interior elements appear as if they have been sculpted rather than built, the result of combining traditional construction methods with more innovative solutions. A combination of gently curved, smoothly rounded and rectilinear surfaces further enhance the house’s sculptural sensibility while hardwood flooring and wood slats subtly imbue the rooms with warmth.
The stair functions as a light tunnel, drawing natural light from the skylight down three stories, filling the narrow house with light throughout the day. The curves of the stair cast graceful shadows onto the otherwise pristine and reflective white finish of the stair and surrounding walls, a constantly shifting and contrasting play of light that adds an additional layer of tactility.
The outdoor garden space is a continuation of the rhythm of the spaces within, with compression and expansion achieved through planting beds and creating distinct spaces of play, dining, and relaxing. An understated rear cladding of charcoal-toned cement board stands as backdrop for the activity of the backyard. The rear façades, stepped back on multiple planes, further disappear amongst the lively and lush planting. The wooden pergola, brick pavers, and ochre outdoor furniture are reminiscent of the temperate climates to which the family has traveled together, and stands out brightly against the darker materials of surrounding houses.