A radiator malfunction caused by an ice storm in 2013 soaked and gutted the original Victorian interiors of this historic Toronto house.
Built in 1893, the house is a handsome example of the Toronto Annex style, exquisitely detailed in red brick and terra-cotta. The interiors, however, had lost much of their splendor when the rooms were carved into apartments for local university students. The need to repair the damage to the house precipitated a much-needed overhaul, and a re-organization of the house to make it suitable for contemporary life.
The more significant transformation occurred at the rear of the building, where the house was opened up to access the re-designed back garden. Asymmetry and organizational strategies of shifting, slicing and overlapping volumes set the tone for the new areas of the house. An old brick porch was removed, and a three-story, glass curtain wall was inserted into the brick façade. This allowed natural light, especially morning light, to flood through the house from the east.
As contemporary dwellings no longer need the traditional separations between the servant’s quarters and the main areas of the house, a re-defined vision of the floor plans was required. Corridors were re-aligned and new openings created to allow visual connections through the three stories of the house. The kitchen was entirely re-organized to become an open, accessible and integral part of the house.
The rooms at the west-facing front of house were kept closer to the original Victorian layout. The traditional plaster ornamentation was painstakingly repaired or recreated. Wood casings were faithfully restored. The materials and finishes in this part of the house were kept more subtle and dignified.