Constructed more than a century ago as a dairy, this three-storey building was subsequently divided vertically into three townhouse-style living units. PLANT had designed a garden branchplant.com/projects/firstave for one unit’s owners several years ago; more recently they selected us once again for an interior renovation.

Redesigning the main stairway to all levels was key to making this extremely narrow residence feel more spacious. On the second floor, where the stairs border the living room, replacing what had been a solid wall with floor-to-ceiling transparent glass panels visually expands the room’s width by ‘adding’ the stairway volume to it. A new skylight above the stair draws light into the interior.

The combination of the clients’ extensive art collection with the home’s compact dimensions and tall, round-headed windows suggested the approach of treating the second floor as a wood-lined curio cabinet with wood paneling framing the library area and the windows. Irregular, bubble-like pendent light fixtures add to the sense of being in a den of marvels. All other lighting is with fixtures that are concealed, or bounce light, so as not to distract from the paintings. The room-as-cabinet strategy is extended to the third floor cabinetry-lined guest bedroom/change room, and the wall and closet treatments of the master bedroom. The few doors in the house (most functions are separated by floor levels, not rooms) were replaced with walnut, with wood panel clerestories. Along with some masonry refurbishment, all of the windows were replaced including walnut windows at the ground floor.

The renovation included custom cabinetry throughout including an expanded kitchen and stereo cabinet.

Ground floor dining (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Ground floor dining
New stair to second floor (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
New stair with wood screen
Stair and painting gallery (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Stair and painting gallery
Wood walls flank the stair (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Wood walls flank the stair
Open stair spills light to the second floor (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Open stair spills light to the second floor
Arrival at the second floor (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Arrival at the second floor
Wood lined library (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Wood lined library
Living room (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Living room
Built in stereo cabinet and paneling (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Built in stereo cabinet and paneling
The arched windows (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
The arched windows
Stair to the third floor (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Stair to the third floor
Steel and wood handrail (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Steel and wood handrail
Skylight and new stair (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Skylight and new stair
Dressing room murphy bed (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Dressing room murphy bed
Wood lined dressing cabinets (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Wood lined dressing cabinets
Master bedroom (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Master bedroom
Master bedroom (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
Master bedroom
Street view (photo: Steven Evans Photography)
View from the street

project index

  1. A Conversation of Views
  2. Admiral Road Garden
  3. Airdrie Road Garden
  4. Airdrie Road Residence
  5. Albany Avenue Residence
  6. Alexandra Park
  7. Aporia Records
  8. Asphalt Poetry
  9. – Poem
  10. Baby Point Gardens
  11. Beach Garden
  12. Beach Village BIA Master Plan
  13. Beaty Residence
  14. Bennington Heights Garden
  15. Berkeley Street Residence
  16. Bin-Scarth Garden
  17. Blink and you miss it.
  18. – Poem
  19. Block 22 Landscape
  20. Bloor St. Apartment
  21. Blue Note
  22. Booth Avenue Residence
  23. Boustrophedon Garden
  24. Braemore Gardens Residence
  25. Browning Avenue Residence
  26. Brunswick Avenue Residence
  27. Camp Arowhon Offices
  28. Canadian Firefighters Memorial
  29. Channelled Buried Moved Lost
  30. Chocolate Loft
  31. City Instrument
  32. Clarendon Garden
  33. Conversation Piece
  34. Cortleigh Boulevard Garden
  35. Creemore Farm
  36. Danforth Mosaic BIA Master Plan
  37. Dickson Park Garden
  38. Dilworth Residence
  39. Don Landing Revitalization
  40. Dublin Grounds of Remembrance
  41. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
  42. Dupont-by-the-Castle BIA
  43. East Point Bird Sanctuary
  44. Eglinton Ave Forecourt
  45. Eglinton Park Master Plan
  46. Elizabeth Fry Society
  47. Ellsworth Residence
  48. Face to Face | Tête à Tête
  49. First Avenue Garden
  50. First Avenue Residence
  51. Flyover Canada
  52. Foote’s Pond Wood
  53. Forest Hill Village Streetscape
  54. Gaze, Glimpse, Glance
  55. Goldring Landscape, University of Toronto
  56. Gormley Garden
  57. Governor's Bridge Lookout
  58. Greener P
  59. Greer Road Garden
  60. Greer Road Residence
  61. Guelph Bridge
  62. Head in the Clouds
  63. Helena Ave Residence 4
  64. Junction Craft Brewery
  65. Kelpies Competition
  66. Kew Gardens Streetscape
  67. King's Landing Apartment
  68. Kipling & Islington Developments
  69. Le jardin du repos
  70. Lenticular Curtain
  71. Leslie Slip Lookout Park
  72. Liberty Village Parkettes
  73. Liza’s Garden
  74. Lynwood Garden
  75. Macroscape
  76. Markham Garden One
  77. Markham Street Residence Two
  78. Midtown Yonge Streetscape
  79. Mulock Park
  80. Nathan Phillips Square
  81. – Streetscape
  82. – Peace Garden
  83. – Podium Roof Garden
  84. Octane Medical Campus
  85. Orchard View Garden
  86. Osgoode Atkinson Green Competition
  87. Owl Cottage
  88. Paperstone Scissors
  89. Pendrith Residence
  90. Peripheral Sitings
  91. Pottery Road Crossing
  92. rare
  93. Ravine Forecourt
  94. Ribbon of the Lower Don
  95. Riverside BIA Master Plan
  96. Roxborough Garden One
  97. Roxborough Garden Two
  98. Schulich School of Business
  99. Sheridan College
  100. – Trafalgar Campus Master Plan
  101. Spadina Quay Wetland
  102. St. Anne's Road Garden
  103. Stratford Market Square Competition
  104. Stratford Patterson Theatre Competition
  105. Superkids Dental
  106. Superlegible
  107. Sweet Farm
  108. Sweet Farm Pond House
  109. Swift Medical Offices
  110. The Meadows Reconsidered
  111. The Red Sash
  112. Thick & Thin
  113. Thistletown II Townhouses
  114. Tipping Point
  115. TMU Centre for Urban Innovation
  116. TMU Science Building
  117. Tranby Garden
  118. Tree House Residence
  119. UBC Okanagan – The Commons
  120. UHN Tunnels
  121. University of Toronto Mississauga Welcome Centre
  122. Venice Biennale 2012
  123. Vermont Square Park
  124. Vernon Avenue Garden
  125. Walk the Walk
  126. Walmer Road Residence
  127. Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial
  128. Wellesley Cottages Garden
  129. Wells Street Residence
  130. Westminster Residence
  131. Weston Village BIA Masterplan
  132. With Words as Their Actions
  133. Woodlawn Avenue Residence
  134. Woven Stories
  135. York Park