House on the Park
Our attentive restoration, renovation, and additions to this majestic century-old home celebrate its original architectural spirit while introducing warmth, elegance, and improved efficiency and functionality.
Sited within a heritage enclave in midtown Toronto, House on the Park comprises a full renovation and meticulous restoration of an Edwardian-era home as well as the addition of a new ground-level wing and penthouse bedroom suite to elevate everyday life for a busy family of six.
The functional goals for the project were at once sweeping and specific: revitalize the original structure; reimagine formal spaces to create a welcoming and fluid atmosphere that also meets pragmatic needs; optimize circulation and energy efficiency; and introduce new vistas to Lake Ontario and additional daylight wherever possible. Forging a graceful conversation between the Edwardian Classical aesthetics and the contemporary design, both inside and out, was also of paramount consideration. The discrete penthouse storey, which features a new green roof, sits lightly on top of the house, stepping back deferentially to achieve minimal visual impact. An aesthetically harmonious addition on the east side includes a communal program for cooking, eating, and gathering as well as a new entrance, mudroom, and garage that flanks the redesigned driveway.
Connected to the historic house through a glazed link that subtly highlights the contrast between old and new, the addition’s façade features both durable and enduring materials — fibre cement and aluminum panels, aluminum trim, contemporary brick, and glass — that complement the preserved brick-and-limestone exterior.
We were additionally challenged to bring the architectural artefact into compliance with (and ultimately exceeded) twenty-first-century building code requirements and envelope performance standards while maintaining the heritage masonry shell. Our objective with every intervention across the property was to deploy consonant, hardwearing materials and extend the life span of the century-old home for another 100 years.
On the inside, the new eat-in kitchen opens toward views of the landscape; the adjacent south-facing sunroom is illuminated by generous glazing and an ocular skylight. Framed by our custom-designed fine mesh bronze screens and white powder-coated steel columns with marble inlays — a contemporary homage to the older home’s more formal architectural elements — the sunroom provides unique sightlines from which to appreciate the layering of spaces across the ground floor: the kitchen, dining room, living room, and library all communicate with one another visually even as they unfold discretely to create distinct spatial experiences.
The main level design updates the original floor plan and infuses each room with personality, colour, and details, softening the formality of the spaces through unexpected contrasts and furnishings. We collaborated closely with our colleagues at Pencil Design on a wide-ranging interiors scheme that features bespoke elements — oak portals and thresholds, custom bronze hardware and trim, vivid marble floors and fireplaces, curved wall panels clad in white-painted linen — that honour the home’s architectural scale and history yet depart from conventions and generic categorizations. This is perhaps most evident with our unique designs for two new sculptural staircases, which introduce handwrought artistry and statement moments commensurate with the home’s grandeur. Designed with parametric software and fabricated using wood and steel, the sinuous geometries completely reimagine the former ones to create uninterrupted circulation paths between floors and admit more natural light.
On the north side of the house, a soaring deep blue staircase unfurls like a wave, connecting all levels, from the renovated basement to the principal bedroom and ensuite travertine bathroom on the top floor. Punctuated at its apex by an ocular skylight that casts light down deep into the home, the structure’s undulations play off the Edwardian curves while its shape and colour converse with the swirling brushstrokes in the dining room mural by Tisha Myles across the hall.
The feature stair — a novel reinterpretation of the grand central staircase — rises above a new herringbone oak floor (a nod to the earlier design), mirroring the concave profile of the surrounding atrium walls. Comprising a statuesque white steel ribbon, lined with a handrail, treads, and risers made of oak, the gleaming structure torques to create a new second-storey lookover. A constellation of glass pendants hover like celestial objects above the naturally lit double-height space — a source of otherworldly illumination that reaffirms the room’s splendour.
Images: Doublespace, Clarissa Bonet