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A Georgian Reno Goes From Modest to Mega

Modern lines meet heritage charm in this beautifully executed refresh by Wayback Architects

By Beth Hitchcock
Photography by Steven Evans

Design has a domino effect. The owners of this handsome Georgian home – a couple with three daughters – hired Toronto’s Wayback Architects for their reno after admiring the studio’s work on a neighbour’s kitchen and bath. The ask? Carve out two extra bedrooms and renovate the kitchen. Soon, the first proverbial domino tipped, and the project grew to include a complete attic renovation, a sculptural central staircase and a reimagining of the main floor.

Georgian Reno
At the entranceway, the central hall leads to the kitchen and library at the back. The leather and brass pendant is by Apparatus Studio.

Taking cues from the home’s original library – a rich, oak-wrapped room with a fireplace – the team developed a look for the home that Wayback partner Jordan Winters describes as “crafted modern,” an aesthetic marked by clean, continuous lines with elegant details that impart warmth. Those details include oak-outlined thresholds, integrated closets with oak strips that act as discreet hardware and knife-edge cove ceilings that hide air returns – to name just a few.

Georgian Reno
Swaths of Calacatta Vagli marble animate the light-filled kitchen. Counters are Corian in Glacier White.

Rather than open up all the walls on the main floor, Wayback chose to maintain multiple pathways but strategically closed off others to showcase the owners’ art collection. “You can walk a figure eight from the kitchen to the primary hallway as you might have done a hundred years ago,” says Winters. “This maintains a human element and works really well for entertaining.”

Georgian Reno
Interior designer Anne Hepfer complemented the new architecture with custom pieces. Dining chairs are from Kiosk.

The undisputed focal point of the home’s centre hall is a gallery-worthy staircase fabricated from darkened oak to relate to the original library panels. Rotating 90 degrees as it rises, the staircase opens up to a landing on the second floor that features a cozy integrated bench and reading nook with tucked-away storage. Yet another staircase continues up to the third floor, where the new bedrooms are located, and to an extra loft space discovered under a gable during demolition.

Crafted from oak, the new sculptural staircase transforms the house. Millwork is by Kobi’s Cabinets; artwork by Paule Lagacé.

The home’s kitchen is narrow but mighty thanks to an atrium that soars from behind the range and connects to the second-floor office. Clad in marble, the dramatic wall is punctuated at its peak with a skylight, allowing natural light to pour into the kitchen.

Signs of the home’s vintage remain, such as the stained-glass windows on the second floor. Pendant by David Trubridge.

With the concept and renovation underway, noted Toronto interior designer Anne Hepfer came on board to refine the floorplans and material choices, and to make the rooms cozy and livable for this fashion-forward family. “Anne really understood what we were trying to do and not only matched our original intent but pushed it forward,” says Winters.

Extra attic space freed up in the renovation became a sweet, light-filled loft.

The finished home represents a new kind of transitional, where history and modernity not only meet but mesh together comfortably. “Whenever we approach a house like this in a heritage neighbourhood, it’s never about stripping everything out,” says Winters. “Where old and new come together, it should be an integration, rather than a collision.” WAYBACKARCHITECTS.COM


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