The Forest Hill House located in Toronto has gone through a total renovation from an existing traditional three-storey home. The interior design has completely changed the entire house as it unifies the home’s formerly disparate areas, in a way modernizing them functionally and aesthetically. The contemporized space with subtle traditional design elements now feels modern, dynamic, and very livable.
First and foremost the interior architectural change that took place is the insertion of a central curving staircase. With open risers, the staircase offers longer sightlines through the main foyer, replacing a traditional closed, rectangular stair. In two sweeping runs, this sculptural staircase knits together the rooms of all three storeys. around a single gesture that maximizes both tread width and overhead clearance.
At the rear of the main floor, a powder room is repositioned and a dividing wall is removed along the boundary of a small elevation change. This adjustment allows for a nearly unbroken expanse of windows onto the backyard, extends the elevation change’s feature stair element onto the patio, neatly linking inside and out. The move also broadens views from the sunken family room to the breakfast area, vastly improving the overall sense of openness and connection while a new wet bar, backed by a low bench, adds a visual barrier between the family room and kitchen.
Living – Dining Space
Other structural changes include the merger of a living room and study into a more flexible living-dining space connected to the family room via a new doorway and stairs. Also, the insertion of a two-car garage in place of a formal dining room. From its position between the living room and steps to the family room, the dining area creates a transition between programmatic zones. This transition also capitalizes on sightlines that give it a vantage point on multiple areas of the main floor.
On the second floor, a shared bathroom is divided into two private bathrooms and reconfigured the master bath and walk-in closets. The insertion of the garage and redesigning of the main entryway and second-floor bay window also makes aesthetic updates to the façade. The ground-floor masonry that flanks the entrance now extends to the roofline, replacing stucco, while the bay window’s soffit and flashing now match the new garage’s blackened zinc cladding and doors.
While the interior is strikingly modern, the traditional elements are subtly reintroduced in unique ways suggesting a harmony between new and old. The main floor walls with blank white sections seem to sit slightly in front of a second, charcoal-colored plane with ornamental baseboards, representing the existing shell of the house. These layered white insertions define the charcoal-colored accent walls, frame the fireplace, and create proscenium-like borders for prominent doorways.
On the main floor, sliding doors with large glass panes framed in black steel likewise pair modern minimalism with traditional panel-door proportions. Upstairs, the classic Victorian four-panel door is reinterpreted in bedroom doors incised with half-round grooves in place of panels, enlarged and reframed to extend the layering motif.
Everywhere, the use of color is highly controlled. A limited amount of charcoal and black is used against a predominantly white backdrop, distinguishing the doors and window frames, stair treads, thresholds, kitchen backsplash, and the frames of most furnishings.
This high-contrast palette is softened by the judicious use of textured, pale neutral finishes, including pewter-toned hardwood on the main floor, sand-colored hardwood on the second and third floors, Bianco marble on the foyer and the kitchen floors and island, and driftwood-colored veneer for storage cabinetry throughout the main floor.
A garnet-colored powder room on the main floor notwithstanding, the color accents that top this neutral canvas is dark blue and pink, appearing in wallcoverings, area rugs, and furnishings. All of the house’s furniture, drew from multiple sources to assemble a diverse collection of soft yet clean-lined seating with highly textured fabrics.
About the Architecture & Interior firm – Reigo & Bauer
Since it’s founding by Merike and Stephen Bauer in 2005, Reigo & Bauer has developed an extensive portfolio of residential contemporary architecture and interior design that includes new builds and ambitious renovations. The firm’s strikingly modern work represents a deeply informed evolution of traditional vernacular, often with sculptural massing that deftly reinterprets classical forms.
The firm’s considered approach yields final results of exceptional quality, uniquely attuned to each client’s requirements and way of life. Reigo & Bauer projects deliver a unified yet highly varied aesthetic experience. Through restrained minimalism, design details are reduced to their most essential forms. This quiet background makes room for the firm’s expert use of extended motifs and coordinated layers of detail, through which multiple design elements act as a single gesture.
Project Name: Forest Hill House
Location: Toronto Ontario, Canada
Dimensions: 7,000 sq.ft. ( 650 m2)
Architecture & Interiors: Reigo & Bauer
Millwork Design: collaboration with Amantea Architects
Design Team: Stephen Bauer, Merike Bauer, Nuria Macias Fernandez, Kyle Brill
Structural Engineer: Blackwell
Construction: Stockridge Construction
Millwork Fabrication: Gibson Greenwood
Photo Credit: Doublespace Photography