Date: September 2013
Size: 3400 sq.ft
Location: Toronto, Ontario
An actress and a doctor with hectic work schedules and a growing young family, the clients were in need of a calm and relaxing space that they could call home. With two young children at a nearby school and roots in the community, they hoped to remain near the Broadview-Danforth neighbourhood where they had lived for years. So they set about searching for a suitable house in need of a substantial remodel and eventually struck gold, finding exactly what they were looking for just down the street. Though structurally solid, the century-old brick home was closed-off and cramped, with rooms isolated from one another, redundant staircases and an insufficient and poorly-remodeled kitchen.
Upon purchasing the house, the clients tasked Roundabout Studio to design a counterpoint to their working lives, outlining a brief that called for the total modernization of the interior through well-designed open spaces and increased natural light. Interested and active participants in the design of their new home, they nonetheless provided Roundabout with a great deal of flexibility and creative freedom, asking the designers to provide a home that went above and beyond their functional requirements. The studio fostered a close working relationship with the clients throughout the entire process, and the end result is a clean, calming and clutter-free home that allows them to unwind after long days at work, while affording their children ample room to grow.
The genesis of the ground floor plan was the decision to remove the main foyer staircase, relying on the servant stairs to provide all of the vertical circulation. Ideally located next to kitchen, now the most used space, the stairs were designed to be a constant point of focus, elevating the most functional and utilitarian aspect of the home into a strikingly designed object. The rest of the support spaces - the mudroom, coat storage and a powder room - were reduced to a large rectangular volume, aligned to allow views to the stairs from almost any angle.
The studio proposed an innovative method of manufacturing the stairs, laminating together lengths of CNC-cut Baltic birch plywood. The solid mass of wood acts as both structure and skin, resulting in a minimally detailed but extremely textural piece.
The storage volume, staircase and 13-foot long kitchen island are highly designed elements, joined harmoniously by a unifying palette mainly of walnut, laminated Baltic birch and concrete. The rest of the finishes recede into a background of whites, greys, Nordic Ash and glass.
So whether the family is relaxing in front of the fire or congregating around the breakfast table and window bench, the architecture doesn’t compete for their attention. Free of visual clutter, it allows them to focus on themselves and each other while the stresses of the day begin to fade away.
Photography: Andrew Snow