For 27 years, Glenn drove up to a two-storey red brick house onto a beige interlocking driveway in front of his blue garage door.
He pulled into the driveway after work, walked up the front steps, entered through the double doors, and knew he was home.
It’s been ten months and Glenn still has a difficult time recognizing his own house.
His eyesight has not changed.
He’s lived in the same house with his wife Carol since 1987. Driving by his home on his daily commute from work has become a regular occurrence. It still feels strange to Glenn.
Did the recent renovation to his home cause Glenn to lose his memory?
Since the renovation, the visual is completely different. The home that used to blend into the Bayview-York Mills neighbourhood now stands out. Neighbours stop by or slow down to admire the changes.
It’s not surprising that it’s taken some time for Glenn to get used to it – the house was completely rebuilt from the interior out.
The exterior of the house was redesigned and rebuilt. The main roof was left intact, but windows were added that extended up and through the roofline. This contemporary detail changed the roofline.
The old roof above the garage was removed and a new flat roof was installed.
The exterior experienced an entire transformation.
The red brick was replaced with a natural stone, dark stucco, and mahogany wood siding. The windows were replaced and architecturally designed to suit the new exterior. The window fixtures were even painted midnight blue to match the tone of the rest of the house.
The facelift of the home’s exterior alongside extensive landscaping in the front and rear yard gave the home an entirely different atmosphere.
Inside, no additions were needed.
The home had ample space, but it was not used very well. The front entry, for example, was an awkward space. It was tall, narrow, and completely out of proportion.
The interior was gutted and completely reorganized to make the most of their space. The kitchen was enlarged and connected to an open concept family room, while the formal living room was made smaller. The home was gutted top-to-bottom.
It’s a brand new home, that is, without the price tag of a new home.
The hot, humid weather that is typical of a Toronto summer is fast approaching. After the worst winter in decades here in Toronto, we are sure to be outside enjoying and soaking in all of the sun.
There is one building feature that can help in summer cooling and winter warming: deep roof overhangs. Depending on depth and placement, large overhangs can shade a house in the summer and still allow warm light in in the winter.
In general, a south-facing overhang will direct the sun's rays lower on the window, allowing less light in and preventing that light from heating up the house in the summer. This means less need for air conditioning, less energy used and less money spent.
A good overhang will also allow more winter light to penetrate a building than summer light, thereby allowing light and heat in during the cooler months, which again saves in energy and electricity costs.
Even if you aren't interested in saving money by reducing cooling costs, large roof overhangs provide shelter and help protect a house from bad weather. They can also protect people at the door from wind, rain and snow as well as save doors and windows from bad weather, and protect a house's exterior and foundation from water runoff.
So large roof overhangs are functional and they also look good!
Contemporary home design often features the trend of flat roofing. Bruce Borden and Phil Gilmore talk about some of the challenges brought on by global warming and the extreme weather for this trend that homeowners looking to build new or renovate should consider.
Bruce Borden is a partner in Walden Homes and has been renovating and building new homes in Toronto for nearly 25 years.
Phil, in neighbourhoods where we are building, we see that contemporary new homes are a growing trend in Toronto. Since horizontal elements are commonly found in contemporary architecture, modern homes generally include some element of flat roofing. Would you agree that contemporary architecture we are seeing in these houses have introduced more flat roofs?
Yes, I would agree. What's interesting is that as the owner of a roofing company, we are pretty much at the intersection of architecture and residential roofing. Whether that be flat roof, low-sloped roofs that combine or intersecting with steeper-sloped roofs with some combination of different materials. We are definitely doing more and more flat roofs.
Can you discuss how contemporary architecture and flat roofing affects the work that you’ve been seeing over the last few years? What are some of the changes that you’ve seen in residential home building trends over the past five or six years?
Well, if the house is a modern design we are dealing with predominantly flat roofs – like, the house that we did on Coldstream Avenue. These types of homes usually have a series of flats. To me, this is a contemporary look. You know, that style. Would you agree?
That’s right. Yes. That is what I mean when I think of contemporary.
It’s a very contemporary look and of course, very popular. And, you know, if it’s done right, flat roofs can be long-lasting roofs that have some pretty nice curb appeal.
Details and Water Management
So, let’s talk about getting these flat roofs done right.
Well, it always comes down to the detail work. When you’ve got a good size flat roof there is always a large area and you’ve got to have a way to manage the water. Water management is a detail that you have to get right.
Can you explain what your mean by managing the water?
Sure. On a typical sloped roof we have a large soffit and fascia with eavestrough running around the perimeter of the roof. The eaves are there to collect the water from the roof. On a typical sloped roof that sheds water, the eavestrough and downspouts are the water management tools. On flat roofs, water is collected in a completely different way.
Yes, the flat roofs we build are designed with some slope so that the water does not collect. The roofs are not literally flat. The roofs slope towards one side where the water is directed drain into a downspout.
That's right. On a flat roof we typically have a parapet wall that we have to work with. Architects like the parapet wall because you get a very nice finish on the elevation. However, we have to have a way to get the water through that wall. This is done by way of a scupper, or as an alternative, an internal drain.
Which means that all the water is drained through a limited number of outlets. This makes it all the more important that the flat roofing system is detailed properly because of the high volumes of water getting through a very small area.
Yes, the flashing detail work is critical. You know, in Toronto, the weather has changed so much in the last 10 years. Our winters – well, this winter is an exception – but, moving forward, how much of an exception is it really going to be? We get large accumulations of ice and snow. Things expand and contract at different rates: the steel, the wood, and the membranes. You have to use a certain type of material with a high tensile strength that can withstand the expansion and contraction, whether it’s -40 or +40.
The Right Crew
Is this the reason that your flat roofing installers are a different crew from the normally shingling crews?
That's right. The flat roofing crews are all certified. They know how to work the membranes so that they don’t lose adhesion or open up to the elements. As you can appreciate, if there’s a leak on a flat roof you’re going to know it in a big sort of way versus a shingled sloped roof that sheds water. So, there is a fear with flat roofs because if you have an installer that's not up to speed on how to do this work, there’s trouble. But you know if they’re done right, they’re fantastic.
The trick is the detail work. A key is to make sure that when you have a flat roof running into a vertical surface, like a second storey structure, the membrane needs to run up that wall high enough so drifting snow and driving rain cannot migrate and get in. Then you have to counter flashback onto the roof and make sure those areas all the way around the perimeter are tight. Any protrusions such as a drain, an exhaust vent for a bathroom below, a gravity pipe – they need to have the proper types of flashings and they need to be the proper types of stacks and then they need to be flashed in accordingly as well.
With a well-installed shingled roof, we expect to get 20 or more years out of that roof. When we talk about flat roofs, is there such a thing as long lasting? What is that in years and what can our homeowners expect?
Okay. Well, that’s a good question. In the Beaches, we did our first two-ply flat roof system close to 20 years ago. Two years ago, a gentleman called and said, “You did my roof. I think it was 18 years ago.” He asked, “Can you inspect it? We are thinking about renovating the third floor.” We went up there and you know what? It looked great! That was two years ago. So it’s 20 years old and it is still going strong. So, I can tell you with 20 years’ experience, a two-ply, modified bitumen system should last 20 years plus.
Are there things that can affect the lifespan?
The materials are warrantied for 20 years. Labour, on a good roof should be ten years, but those systems can last much longer than 20 years if there’s good drainage. You don’t want significant ponding on there all the time. You need a granular cap sheet. They prevent the UV rays from breaking down the membrane.
The Right Materials
What other things impact the longevity of the modified bitumen flat roof?
In layman’s terms, the thickness of the rubber. So, when I’m saying, it’s a 250 gran cap in a 180 base – basically what I’m saying is I’m giving you the thickest cap sheet and the thickest base sheet. A lot of guys will say two-ply system and mean they’re using just a cap sheet and just a vapour barrier, but technically, it is two-ply, don’t you know.
The devil’s in the details. You want a quality cap sheet and a base sheet with a registered installer. Then you’re going to get longevity on those roofs.
Let's shift gears on this. A little earlier on you brought up a good point about the changing weather. This is an interesting angle. From your perspective, how is the weather changing roofing? You know, with the temperature, the winds and wind-driven rain, what’s changed for you?
Well, of course there’s the ice damming. Right? I mean, ice moves mountains. I’ve seen ice damming at eaves tug an eave detail away from a house. The whole wood socket heaved an inch-and-a-half to two inches. It’s just a sheet of ice running down and that is a symptom of significant heat loss.
Typically in older homes, insulation gets depressed in some areas or sculpted because of the winds that get in there. Even in renovated homes, where for example, pot lights or exhaust vents were installed. If the vapour barrier is not completely sealed, heat just escapes into the attic. Then, of course, the -20 outside air and all this warm heat escaping – hot meets cold – and then condensates, hits the top of the plywood and starts to drip back down. This is a significant problem in Toronto.
The way you combat that on the roof side is you put ice and water shield and drip edge and metal flashings at the eave. That helps prevent rain, water, ice, snow from getting in. It doesn’t guarantee it, but it helps.
I know, that is why we have to pay so much attention to getting it right the first time. Coming back and correcting the problem is difficult and costly. Phil, can you talk about the steps we take to assure that this is not an issue?
Sure. To start off, you want a significant amount of insulation in the attic. Optimal is around an R-50. You make sure that insulation is raked off the soffits. Why? You don’t want any restricted airflow from around the perimeter. So, when it’s raked off the soffits, make sure that you have perforated soffits and that there is air flow. Then slide in baffles so the insulation doesn’t blow back over the soffits that you just raked off. You then want to make sure that you've got the attic sealed off from the warm air inside the house. Next are the attic static vents on the roof to help draw that air and circulate. So, if you’ve got an attic with R-value and have the attic well sealed from the house, now you’re significantly reducing the heat loss into the attic. Those in conjunctions with good airflow that circulates, you now know it’s not going to collect condensation.
Of course, when you do a roof, you have your roofing contractor make sure that if there are any bathroom vents, the flex hoses are tied off and steeled around the exhaust vents. Hopefully, they’re insulated flex hoses, because if they’re metal they tend to condensate and they can cause problems. So all these things make a big difference.
Yeah, that all makes sense. Hey Phil, earlier on you mentioned that on the flat roofs, water management is an issue. What about the crazy heavy rains? The volume of water and wind driven rains can be an issue. What can you say about handling the flash rains that we've seen the past few years?
With the high, driving rains and lower sloped roofs, we used to rely on ice and watershield protection on the entire deck. In some cases, you really sort of restrict the roof from breathing because you’ve just waterproofed the entire deck. So, you have to be careful not to suffocate the roof. So, while the ice and water shield is a big plus for the ice damming in the winter, we have to make sure that the roof is breathing properly.
Are you saying that the balanced approach in an underlayment? What is the underlayment we are installing now?
It’s a synthetic felt, which allows the roof to breathe, but sheds water, which is brilliant. It’s also like a woven polymer or fabric. So while a driving rain or a tree limb hitting the roof can lift and rip your shingle off and Rocky Raccoon gets up there after he sees the shingles off and wants to go live in your attic, he can’t tear the synthetic felt.
It’s brilliant. What about managing the volume of water?
When we typically go to a home, if I see the eavestroughs that are put in with nails, that’s a red flag, because the nails don’t have much integrity. They pull out and the eavestrough can slump quite easily and hold water and of course, when it holds water it pulls out even more. It compounds the problem. So, we just like to make sure you’ve got a proper eavestrough system. No less than five-inches wide; sometimes six-inches, if it’s managing a long, sweeping roof slope. Then, of course, you have the large downpipes that are strategically placed to manage the water.
How large? So, how large would those downpipes be?
At least 3-inch by 3-inch square. When we can, we’ll require 3 by 4-inch and getting it away from the foundation wall. So, with these things you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.
On the eavestrough, when you said not to have them nailed, then what type of system is it that you recommend?
Well, it’s a hidden bracket. So, it just grabs and gets nailed in or screwed in from there and it just gets a good bite versus those aluminum spike and furrow that they just don’t hold up.
They’re a little cheaper, but they just don’t hold up.
Okay, all that sounds good. One last thing, with the gutter guards, that’s something that you are using on many of our roofs.
Well, there’s only one type that I’ll use if I use them and that would be the Alu-Rex. Alu-Rex is good because it has round perforations, but very small. It allows dirt and sand and maybe very fine foliage that will easily get through the elbow assembly of the downpipe.
That’s what you want. That doesn’t plug up the elbow assembly, so it runs free and clear. The bigger stuff tends to lay on it and blow off with ease. With other products, stuff gets caught in it, so you’re up on a ladder cleaning out the gutter guard. Then you say, “Well, why did I put it in in the first place?” So, I’m not big on gutter guards except for Alu-Rex, because that has the best track record with me. The downside with any gutter guard is that if there’s snow and ice, it will get caught at the eave a little bit, because there’s a gutter guard there now. It doesn’t just fall into the trough, but if the roof’s done right, with good underlayment, it’s a non-issue.
Phil that’s all great information! Thanks for the talk.
First off, what’s the difference? In a tear down, the existing house on a lot is taken down completely. This means the roof, the walls, the floors, and the foundation are completely removed. There is nothing left of the existing home.
In a gut, the house is stripped to the outside walls. Even the most complete gut retains some element of the existing side walls and the foundation walls are maintained. Often, some percentage of the existing walls are maintained. What stays and what goes depends on the exact nature of the renovation.
Even knowing this information, many homeowners are still unsure which route is best for them. Unfortunately, there is no single right or wrong answer to this question. Reasons to follow one route over the other will depend on each particular situation.
While there is no straightforward way to say one route is better than the other, we can explore some of the thinking that goes into making the decision or needs of the homeowners.
Considering the cost
In most cases, a tear down will cost more than a complete gut. The difference in cost varies depending on how much additional square footage is added to the existing home to make it larger. In the long run, things balance out as tear downs are usually worth more when completed than the gut. You are spending more initially to build a home that will be worth more.
What changes do you want to make?
Tear downs usually allow for more flexibility in the overall architecture. The house can be set on the lot based on your needs. It can be lowered to the ground or elevated to allow for more basement height. It can be moved forward or slightly back to take advantage of the grading or other property aspects.
A new home has benefits in allowing for more changes to the space. A new home’s basement is usually upgraded, allowing for more height and better windows. In addition, including a garage in a new home is usually easier than it would be in a gut.
On the other hand, a gut can sometimes allow for flexibility in a different way. The house can take advantage of existing non-conforming elements. For example, leaving side walls permits a house to be wider in some cases. This is an advantage on narrow properties.
Neighbours often find complete tear downs to be more disruptive than complete guts. Most large scale renovations or re-builds require committee approval. At times, in can be easier to get neighbours on your side when the house is not getting completely torn down. The perception is that building a new home will be more disruptive.
Some homeowners want to maintain the original architecture of a home. They want a house that will fit in within the neighbourhood. In these cases, a gut would be the better route. New homes do tend to stand out amongst a street lined with older homes. If maintaining harmony is important, the gut would be the better option.
Have you made a decision?
These are just some of the considerations that need to be thought through before making a decision. We can help you explore these two options to find the best approach to suit your particular needs.
Tear down or gut renovation? Let us know which you’re leaning toward and we’ll help you make the right decision!
Many neighbourhoods throughout Toronto are experiencing the effects of tear downs. One by one, older homes on Toronto streets are renovated or torn down completely and re-built. Streets and neighbourhoods are completely transformed.
By investing in their properties, homeowners reinvent the neighbourhoods in which they live. Architectural styles have changed throughout the years. Today, contemporary and modern styles are prevalent in some neighbourhoods. Others prefer maintaining a blend with traditional styles that already exist, so the new home fits into the streetscape.
Big Pictures are Built out of Small Details
Although they’re growing in popularity, tear downs have been occurring for years. At Walden Homes, we begun building, renovating, and tearing down these older homes in 1990. Our first full tear down was in 1992. Since then, we've worked in neighbourhoods throughout Toronto.
Building these homes, we have learned that for a homeowner, building their new home is a big picture dream. For us, these projects are dependent on the details. A beautiful new home stands on the effective harmony of its details.
The most exciting process was incorporating technology into the home and into the building process. Experienced management turned out to be one of the most important factors in implementing the details of projects like these, as effectively incorporating technology into a new home is a very detail dense project.
Can I Afford a Tear Down?
Many things determine the cost of a tear down. Land prices are changing dramatically, the cost of construction has risen, and homes have become more feature dense per square foot. Design detailing, home comfort systems, the level of finish, material and labour costs have all continued to rise. Still the cost of good planning and managing all aspects of the design and building process are more important now than ever before due to the details, change in building process, and architectural style.
If you were to rebuild you home, what’s one must-have detail you would include? Share with us below!
All architects have their own unique style. Looking at homes that are modern or contemporary in design, we can identify 8 core elements that many architects will use. In each of these beautifully designed homes, we are looking at a number of techniques that architects have incorporated:
1 - Contrasting colours: Notice in these homes the contrasting colours, especially with dark windows and lighter coloured wall facing.
2- Textured surfaces: Stone or brick that meets up with a smooth surface. These textured surface types are often found in contemporary home design, despite being traditional materials.
3- Lines: Straight and horiztonal lines make strong statements, accentuating the width, while vertical lines will accentuate the height of the home.
4- Canopy over entry: The door canopies are central features that can extend into bands that run across the house.
5- Use of Glass: Large floor to ceiling windows and glass doors are common. Notice the placement of windows that include mullions which configure the larger windows into smaller sections.
6-Symmetry: In this styple of architecture you do not see houses that are symmetrical (balanced). A symmetry is typical.
7-Feature wall or Feature element: With all the glass, the designs often incorporate a solid element (stone wall, large paneled bay window, stone chimney). These are meant to anchor the house and give it a sense of permanence or a connection to the surrounding.
8- Flat roof: This provides the box effect. Most modern designed homes feature flat roofs, but this not a rule. Even if the house has a sloped roof, you will find flat elements in the project above the eaves or soffit line - box bay windows or box dormer windows.
Have we missed anything? Which of these elements are your favorite when it comes to design?
Many of the homes that we work on are on the narrower side, from 16' to 25' in width.
One of the challenges we often run into in these homes are tight stairs and restricted hallways. Stairs that are 26" to 36" (or less) in width are typical. A second floor hallway that services a bedroom or bathroom in the front of the house can be as narrow at 24" in some of the very tight homes. The main floor hallway can often feel tight and restricted. Finding ways to squeeze out every inch in these situations is always a challenge.
In one of our current projects on Bowood Avenue, the stair to the basement was so narrow that getting even a small size washer and dryer down to the new laundry room was a challenge. Fortunately we were able to increase the size of the opening. Rob explains how we did this in this short video:
Narrow Stair Opening Made Wider:
Does your home have a narrow hallway or stairs?
What we like about the stair and hallway pictured above are the light coloured materials as well the choice of materials used for the railing. Both the upper and lower hallways are very tight. Here are a few things for you to consider if your home has a "tightening" in the hallway/stairway areas:
On the main floor, widen entry points to a living room and dining room. You can still maintain the division between space if you like, but the wider opening will add to the sense of space and width.
If you are doing large scale renovations, consider going to an open concept main floor.
Your carpet runner should be as wide as possible. Also note that hardwood stairs can be slippery and dangerous without a carpet runner.
Look for a smaller and less detailed railing and picket design when installing new railings. If your budget allows, use glass set into a narrow frame.
On a 2nd floor landing, make sure that your railings are up to code. Many of the older homes have railings that are well below code. This can be a hazard especially in a tight hallway.
Widening stairs can be difficult and costly. Work with a railing specialist to design your railing to maximize the width of the stairs.
Those are a few ideas that you can consider. Let Bruce know if you have any questions about renovating. You can contact him at email@example.com
It's been a while since we posted anything about our Fleming Avenue project. Things have progressed nicely. The main floor at the back of the house is elevated well above grade. The house has a full height basement walkout. As you can see here, we added a small addition to the main floor that projects out four feet from the existing back wall.
The addition is really no larger than a big bay window.
But, clearly, a little bit can go a long way. The extra four feet that this bay window provides will allow us to completely transform the layout of the main floor. This small extension is the key to how the kitchen is designed, how the new island will be situated, how the living/family room will be configured and how the dining space has been relocated.
All of these changes have been made possible because of the four extra feet.
This hallway looks and feels wider than it actually is. The open rise stair creates a sense of space and the natural light flows in through the window sidelights at the end of the hallway, which can make the staircase feel nearly transparent. How much of an affect does this have in this home? Just imagine a solidstaircase cutting off the view.
One of the constant challenges we work with in Toronto is that most lots are long and narrow. Houses by default can also feel long, narrow and dark. Creating a light funnel down the center of the house is a great way to brighten things up and an open staircase like the one pictured here is one technique that we like to use when renovating or building our new custom homes.
We do not blog about the Walden Homes process very often. Our website does a pretty good job of introducing visitors to our Plansmart & Buildsmart process. However, to switch things up (and because we really like the whole "process" idea), we thought we would give you a glimpse of the initial stages of planning a new home or renovation, à la Walden.
Programming: The programming worksheet pictured above (typically 3 pages) combines space planning, where we use a floor plan of the project area, with a written outline of what our client envision for the home they want to build.This is done very early in the process so the project has a structure.
We generally include a visual or two that are central to the overall vision. These can be elements of the interior, exterior or both. There is also a written outline of functional requirements. These requirements can include anything from home comfort preferences, exterior material cladding, structural consideration, zoning implications and scheduling timelines that form the core from which the project will take shape.
This allows everyone to be on the same page and share a vision for the project. Everyone becomes a team in moving the vision forward.
The next step in our process is the "Project Budget Worksheet". This deals with the financial control of the project.
Stay tuned for our post on this next step of a Walden venture!
It’s been raining a lot lately, but we know the sun will be here again to stay…eventually. This wall of glass doors create a wonderful connection between the interior and exterior of this home. No matter what the conditions are outside, you get the natural light and connection to your surroundings.
This series of 8′ tall doors combine together a series of 6 different panels to create a 20′ long wall. This is a cost effective approach to building a very long wall of glass.
The glazing options, improved engineering characteristics and energy efficiency incorporated into windows and doors offer so many possibilities.
The use of floor to ceiling windows or doors (or a combination of both) is a design element we use in larger and smaller homes that we work on throughout Toronto.
Why are dormers used in home construction? Many think that dormers are merely an aesthetic addition to a home, mainly used in traditional style properties. However, aside from the obvious aesthetic appeal, dormers have the function of allowing a second storey space to become much bigger. They also provide a means of allowing additional, natural light to enter a space that would otherwise have to rely on electricity.
A room with a dormer is ideal for a bedroom or office space. Any room can be made increasingly more functional with the extra space. A dormer allows a homeowner to expand the original square footage of the second floor, meaning they are no longer limited to the original size of the home. Dormers can offer the opportunity to add additional closet space, an extra bathroom, a window seat and so much more.
The home shown in this photo, for example, shows a smaller dormer located above the main door with two larger dormers projected over the porch. Not only is the second floor larger than the first, the home’s aesthetic appeal is greatly enhanced with porch beams and the A-frame dormers give the home a charming, curb side appeal.
Would you consider adding dormers in your next home renovation?
Building a contemporary styled home in a traditional neighbourhood requires a certain sensitivity on behalf of the both the builder and the homeowner. It is important to maintain a certain consistency with the style of the existing homes in the neighbourhood, while building the house you want. A contemporary home can still make a statement without standing out too much and overshadowing its neighbours.
The above photo shows a great example as to how this transition can be successfully accomplished. This property sets itself apart from the traditional homes through its design, but it is the materials that really make it a stand apart.
The wood and warm brick, combined with the hidden third floor helps the home appear to be of the same size (or at least, not too much bigger) as the homes surrounding it. The front wall allows it to scale it to fit with the neighbourhood. It is also set low to the ground and the main floor height is very much in line with the other homes, as is the second floor.
Overall, we at Walden work very hard to interpret modern design to work well with existing Toronto neighbourhoods. Again, it is important to ensure that the builder you work with has a sensitivity to the neighbourhood.
Those who are lucky enough to have a spare room in their home often have difficulty figuring out how to make the most of it. There are a variety of different ways to enhance the functionality of your home by making proper use of this extra space.
First, it is important to evaluate the needs of you and your family. If you have older kids, it may be a good idea to use the extra room as spare family room, especially as many homes don’t have finished basements. It is also a great spot to use as a home office, a need that is becoming more common as more and more people are working from home.
In this particular room, the windows allow for extra natural light to enter the home. The cabinets have increased its functionality as they can essentially be used for anything, while still providing a substantial amount of extra storage. By simply adding the cabinets, the owners have managed to turn a spare room of little use into a livable space that also offers functional purposes.
Decor-wise, the neutral colours have made this room easy to decorate and the large windows make it a light, pleasant space.
What would you do with an extra room in your home?
Every once in while, we come across a space that is so visually interesting that we simply cannot help but analyze what draws our eyes to it. This space in the image above is one of those. So what exactly is it about this space that draws us in?
The 4″ cedar ceiling balances well with the hardwood floors. The floors themselves are a 4″ medium stained hardwood. The two elements work nicely together.
The windows are positioned in a way that accentuates natural light which reflects off the neutral coloured warm shade of light. The railing is a simple design series of squares, made of black metal. The handrail’s top cap is a stained wood that ties into the floors.
The hanging fixture is a dark red and stands out in the neutral setting of colours. However, one is left to guess as to whether or not this fixture is merely for show or if it gives off sufficient light. The large white walls would be excellent for art work but keeping it simple like this is nice as well.
Let’s look at the use of these 2 different materials
This home’s interior use of stone suggests a sense warmth and comfort with natural material set against a wall of poured concrete, which is stark, modern very industrial.
The use of these 2 materials in particular create a sense of movement, interest and permanence. There are other materials that we use in combination that can do the same.
For example, natural stone countertops set against a back painted glass backsplash or dark stained wide plank wood floors set against high gloss lacquer cabinets. The combination of different contrasting materials are an important element in creating a unique but long last design template.
What are some of your favorite ways to implement contrasting materials in interior or exterior designs? We would love to hear!
Living in Toronto, we can’t all have the grand space we desire in our homes. That doesn’t mean that smaller spaces can’t still be comfortable. Below are some ideas for working and renovating smaller spaces to make them feel larger and more comfortable. The above picture shows a perfect example of how to make a small, narrow space seem much larger.
Notice the visual connection from one room to another. In this picture, glass doors connect the 2 rooms and also provide a view to the exterior of the house.
The natural light of the space is a key factor in making the room seem bigger. The natural light is brought deeper into the house, unlike so many Toronto homes that are long and narrow, making them dark. Increasing the amount of natural light makes rooms feel bigger and more comfortable. In this image, see how the doors and windows are very tall. These doors are 8′ tall with an additional 14″ upper glass transom. The light floods the room and bounces off the ceiling. So where possible ,we will lengthen (add height) to windows and doors to increase the amount of natural light.
The same applies to interior doors and arches that connect from a different room. Even when ceiling heights are more restricted, it helps to raise the height to door openings to 7′ or 7′-6″ where possible. Rooms feel bigger and ceiling heights will appear higher.
What other tips and tricks do you have for making a room appear larger?
This is a perfect example of what we envision when we use the term transitional. This space is complete with clean lines and simple details combined with the use of transitional materials, an excellent display of the art of blending new with existing through the process of renovation. The stair case is constructed using very traditional materials, such as stained oak treads, painted white stringer and riser, all details you would find in homes 100 years ago.
The windows on either side of the stairs are treated with a contemporary detail (like we find in very modern architecture) – finished with now frames and no casing, just very drywall returns. The window sill (using stained oak) becomes the transitional element in that it ties the “old world” flooring and stairs into the modern window detail.
Other examples – ceiling detail is modern – no crown moulding, just very simple clean lines. The railing pickets use a very simple brushed stainless steel finish combined with a very traditional stained handrail.
We love this movement between traditional materials and more contemporary design, creating a seamless transitional renovation.
For those intense summer evenings in Toronto, it’s hard to beat a master bedroom like this one. The 12′ wide opening with both doors open makes for a fantastic breeze, ideal for sleeping.
A walk-out from a master bedroom to a patio is a unique feature in Toronto, where most lots are narrow and long. Having the luxury of a main floor master is limited to those with wide enough property – likely require 60′ frontage or more.
Notice the use of natural materials: doors are mahogany, siding is clear cedar, the patio is a square cut stone and the stairs and retaining walls are also clear cedar.
Architectural detailing: contemporary roof line – flat roof with a small hidden parapet wall. Nice simple detailing with siding running right up to the roof line. Hanging wall light fixture next to the doors is a perfect compliment to the overall design.
This design is comfortable and functional, while being both modern and transitional. We really like the overall feeling. Thoughts?