Loft in a Shell
Renovation of a century-old home to breathe in new light-filled spaces, while exposing curated elements of the original built structure.
Located in the Danforth neighbourhood of Toronto, the semi-detached house – originally built in 1904 – had undergone a patchwork of structural and interior renovations over the decades. The owners bought the property with the intention of converting it into a legal duplex, with the upper level suite as their primary residence and the lower level suite as an income-generating rental. For their primary residence, the owners wanted a contemporary aesthetic that felt serene, light-filled and inviting, with the functionality of open concept living and indoor-outdoor connections.
The design narrative for the project is a 'loft in shell' – with the new modern loft opening up to, and inviting in, natural light into the restored shell of the home. Skylights and windows channel light into the communal areas of the home, particularly in the double height space overlooking the living and dining space. Design features, such as the open-riser stairs and bay window seating, invite attention to sources of light. Opening up the existing floorplan was integral to achieving the loft feel – walls were removed and reconfigured to create an open-concept plan with functional flow that allows ease of circulation between living, dining, and kitchen areas.

A subtle feature is the reveal base (in which the wall and floor seamlessly intersect, without the need for any baseboards), contributing to simple, clean lines. Restoring and exposing the beautiful, original double-layered brick in key moments of the home is a gesture to the shell of the original built structure. A walk-out rooftop deck promotes indoor-outdoor living nestled under the beautiful, decades-old trees in the backyard. The light oak floors paired with fresh white cabinetry contribute to the airy, light feel, while also acting as a backdrop to the subtle and organic introduction of colours that add warmth to the space (from the reddish undertones of the exposed brick, rose gold lighting, and indoor green plants). Relying on clean lines, simple geometries, a warm colour palette, and light-amplifying features, the overall design articulates a sense of tranquility and warmth.

Project Type: Residential, Semi-Detached Duplex
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Status: Completed 2016
GFA: 2,000 sqft
Client: Private
Contractor: Private
Structural Engineer: B design
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