Monday, January 21, 2013

Riverdale Project: A Second Floor Reno

Early stage conceptual concept for the master ensuite.

This semi detached victorian in Toronto's Riverdale neighborhood had seen many updates and renovations over the years and more recently the main floor and the backyard had been transformed to reflect the modern clean aesthetic of my client, a single male, who has called it home for 6 years.  The second floor however was still stuck in the early 80's and in need of a complete overhaul.  The challenges of planning a renovation for this floor of the house, including converting one large bathroom into 2 bathrooms, had stalled him for years... until he finally decided to call me in to help!  

Second Floor Plan - Before.

The existing floor plan definitely had some undesirable classic 80's features like a ginormous jacuzzi tub, glass block windows, shared bathroom access and lots of 45 degree angles.  The goal was to take this one huge bathroom and covert it into 2 and update all the rest of the finishes and fittings throughout the floor. 

Second Floor Plan - Proposed

After presenting 4 different layout options (including ones with double sinks and freestanding tubs!), this was the winning floor plan that my client opted to go with.  This plan ticked everything on his wish list and then some - a four piece private ensuite and a spacious 3 piece guest bathroom with custom vanity and walkin shower, complete with new french style tall windows.  In the process of planning 2 bathrooms where there once was just one, it's important to try to utilize existing plumbing locations as best as possible and this layout was also very favorable to those conditions.

The ensuite in this floor plan isn't huge in sq ft but its loaded with features.  A contemporary built-in tub is the focal point of the new ensuite and the walk-in shower has a true seamless design with a sleek recessed trough drain.  Since my clients been waiting (and dreaming) of this new ensuite for so many years, its also chock full of some luxury details - there's loads of stone tile, recessed LED floor lights, a chromotherapy tub and yes, even a tv in mirror.  

Some of the other changes to the floor plan involved reworking the door into the master bedroom, flipping the closets to the opposite wall (which works so much better) and eliminating an unused built-in nich in the guest bedroom.  In addition to the bathroom overhauls, the second floor is also getting all new doors and trim work, lighting, new glass staircase railing, new wood stair treads, new hardwood and carpet flooring and new french windows and juliette balconies.

Early stage conceptual concept for the master ensuite.

 When I first started planning this reno my client wasn't completely sure what direction he wanted to go with the bathroom finishes, he knew in the guest bathroom he wanted light white marble and a walnut vanity, but in the ensuite he was really uncertain.  I prepared this very quick conceptual sketch to give him a reference point for discussion.  It assisted with him in visualizing his new layout and how the different materials and finishes would relate to each other.  In this sketch I was envisioning x-large white marble floor tiles that met a marble slab tub front which continued up behind the tub - he definitely wanted wood on the tub front so I switched this to walnut,,,, the side walls would be long linear cut marble tile (the linework of the tile doesn't show in this image).  Immediately upon looking at this, he formulated a clearer vision of what he wanted for the finishes, even though it was quite different than what I had rendered. Let me just say, where we ended up was dramatically different than were we started but it was a wonderfully collaborative process.

After many many months and what has been the longest bathroom reno of my career (including 3 months waiting for plumbing fixtures, 4-1/2 months waiting for tile!!) the entire second floor is finally about 95% complete. I can't wait to share some of the progress photos in upcoming posts and sneak peeks of the finished spaces.

I should mention the above plans are simplified views to illustrate the before and after layouts for this blog post only.  A complete detailed construction drawing package (permit ready) including elevations and all material and fixture specs was prepared for this project and necessary for such an extensive renovation.  A concept sketch and a layout view is only the beginning!

All drawings by: Carol Reed

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Style at Home: Gather Around

Style at Home Magazine February 2013.  Photography by Donna Griffith.

The publication of Gail's kitchen in the February issue of Style at Home is an exciting full-circle moment of sorts. Its the first project since having this blog that I've documented the process from initial meeting to magazine right here on the blog and on twitter. 

Its been a long process to complete this circle including a year since the time of the shoot to publication.  Gail and her family have been enjoying this new kitchen (and also the renovated family room and adjoining mudroom) for two years now and she loves it as much, if not more today then when she moved into it in the late fall of 2010.   I've enjoyed a glass of wine and delicious food at this island several times over the past two years and to see the joy in Gails eye's as she thrives in this new space is truly gratifying for me.   The absolute best part of any job for me is when I actually see the completed space being used just as I had envisioned in even my earliest sketches.  Its rare to actually see her kitchen empty like this, as its the hub of this home and always, always buzzing.

Without a doubt the most satisfying compliment for me is when visitor's tell Gail, even though its all new and is in a addition to the house, that they feel like this kitchen has always been there, that it feels like it originally belongs to their century old house.  And that, for me, is exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

You can check out the full feature in the current issue on-line to digital subscribers at and on news stands this week across Canada.  I absolutely love how photographer Donna Griffith so beautifully captured the space and how Ann Marie Favot's simple styling had the perfect touch.  I'll be posting some more photos from my own portfolio shoot (also shot by Donna) at Gail's in the weeks ahead. 

Thank you Donna, Ann Marie, Bethany and the entire team at Style at Home!

You can check out older posts on Gail's kitchen thru the links below:

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