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Home of the Week

Clever design opens up a once brooding space

Deirdre Kelly – Globe and Mail

60 Woodlawn Avenue West, Toronto – $2.495-million

The back story

Purchased by a professional couple with a child in 2008, this 1970′s house on Woodlawn Avenue, close to Yonge Street on the northern border of Rosedale, had location going for it, but little else.

In seriously run-down condition, a total renovation was deemed necessary to bring the semi-detached four-storey, three-bedroom house up-to-date. Hired to do the deed was Toronto firm Reigo & Bauer, headed by partners Stephen and Merike Bauer, a husband-and-wife team who are graduates of the University of Toronto’s School of Architecture.

“The couple wanted to take advantage of the location and the views, but give the house a contemporary townhouse feeling,” explains Ms. Bauer, adding that a series of demolitions was needed to accomplish this goal. “Before the renovation the house had a decent shell, but the interiors were very dated, not having been altered since the original construction.”

The interior was also overwhelmingly dark as a result of the kitchen and entry being cut off from the rest of the house.

“The dining room was enclosed with partition walls,” Ms. Bauer adds, “resulting in a very broken-up plan.”

She and her husband directed most of their creative energies on the main living space and the master bedroom, while also adding new trim, paint, doors, windows, fixtures – even furniture – throughout the home. The overhaul was extensive but went surprisingly fast: “The actual timeline on the job was really fast for the design and construction portion,” Ms. Bauer says. “We began the design in June of 2007 and ended by the end of the year, which is when the clients moved in.

“We approached the finishing of the interior at a much more relaxed pace, taking our time to select the right furnishings, lighting and wallpaper, a process that took us well into 2008.”

What’s new

Everything on the main floor is new: Built-in cabinetry in the foyer, a powder room with custom Corian sink and silver and black damask wall paper, hardwood floors, invisible in-wall speakers hardwired to a concealed A/V hub, a custom kitchen and sliding doors at the rear of the house which open onto the backyard.

On the second floor, the Bauers left the footprint of the original master bedroom, but took the decor up a notch by raising the entrance doors to seven feet in height and adding high-gloss imported Italian door and trim. They also reconfigured the master ensuite bathroom and dressing room area, adding new fixtures and finishes.

Next, they redesigned the central stairwell, creating a solid sculptural form to echo the curves in the existing second floor hallway. The basement and third floor were also renovated, but not as extensively as the rest of the house. On the third floor, the windows were enlarged to take advantage of the views of downtown Toronto, and a small kitchenette was installed next to a refinished bathroom.

“I think this house shows what can be done to overhaul an interior to make it contemporary but comfortable at the same time,” Ms. Bauer says.

Best feature

The custom-designed drinks cabinet dividing the dining room from the living room separates the interior space, enabling the dining room to be properly defined while at the same time serving as a piece of furniture that that can be pulled away from the wall for more informal entertaining.

“Clad in the same bold black and white composite wood veneer as the kitchen island, and featuring interior lighting and a red back-painted glass base, the floor-to-ceiling unit opens from both sides for drinks to be served in either room. It’s got panache,” says Ms. Bauer says.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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