A Toronto Home’s Cozy, Modern Renovation

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The kitchen features the Turntable and Morph chairs by Germany's Formstelle, at Toronto's Avenue Road.
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In the city’s east end, Drew Mandel Architects have transformed a typical brick-clad semi-detached into a striking and warm haven for a family of five.

When Chris Nicholls and Lorca Moore, a fashion photographer and a model, respectively, would return from globetrotting work assignments, they would often find themselves disappointed with their home on a quiet street in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood. After a fruitless search for a new property, they decided to keep their family of five in the house because of its ideal location – just a stone’s throw from Lake Ontario – and renovate it instead.

So the couple called on Drew Mandel Architects, a firm responsible for some of the city’s most well-appointed homes and retail shops, including the Lawren Harris House restoration and the recently completed James Perse boutique in the city’s swanky Yorkville district.

Open to the challenge, Mandel and his team gutted the couple’s compact home, amping up its contemporary feel with a double-height extension that cantilevers over the front entrance (it houses second- and third-floor bedrooms) and a roomier entry. The extension and the partially glazed entrance are framed in black zinc panels, while ipe wood is used for the doors, window frames and steps leading up from the concrete stair.

Wood – specifically walnut – is also generously deployed throughout the interior’s main level, for the new winding staircase, the hardwood floors, and the kitchen cabinetry, which is accented with marble countertops. For a quirky touch, the kitchen’s custom-built island sits atop the kind of industrial casters one sees in hospitals.

Apart from the extension, the firm made the home feel more expansive by raising the ceiling in the family room, with its new limestone floor; and inserting glass panels and a mirror at the base of the stairs. Toward the back, next to a new custom black steel fireplace, DMA installed new windows framed in mahogany to provide access to a pre-existing rear deck.

After two years of construction, the home was finally completed this month with the installation of a handrail along the glass panels enclosing the main staircase.

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