First Avenue Residence
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.