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How a Reno Transformed a Home into a Family’s Personal Playground

With its unique layout, this former rooming house was redesigned by Reflect Architecture just for this family. Oh right, and there’s a slide

By Gregory Furgala
Photography by Riley Snelling

Walk around Toronto, and you’re bound to see some non-traditional homes. (Alternatively, you could just pore over our back issues.) Few, though, break with the norms of interior design quite like this Reflect Architecture-renovated century-old home. Situated in its centre beneath a pair of west-facing windows, connecting the ground floor to the basement, is a powder blue tube slide. Like from a playground.

Reflect designed a generously proportioned kitchen to accommodate day-to-day family life. The island is clad in Laminam, while the light above is by Supernova. The millwork is by Wood Tradition. The wood flooring is knotless European oak and was sourced from Moncer.

It gets plenty of use, too, both from two parents (who slide down it) and their three children (who, as kids do, like to climb up its length instead of the adjacent stairs). Its function is twofold: one, it’s just plain fun. Two, it unites a double-height space that connects the first floor with the basement, transforming the subterranean space into something that feels far more, well, terranean. Unconventional? Obviously. But it signals the home’s subtle drift from the norm. Where people often fall in line with design trends, with a limited amount of space, this family let design trends fall in line with their needs and lifestyle.

The dining and living space, which is situated at the front of the home, looks onto the street. The pendant, by Bocci, was purchased at Kiosk.

With their propensity for congregating in the kitchen and desire to connect with the neighbourhood, Reflect Architecture carved out space at the front of the home for a generously proportioned island big enough to handle food prep, board games and general hearth-of-the-home-hubbub simultaneously, while a seating area beside occupies what would otherwise be the foyer. With both in view of the street, the liveliest part of the home looks on to the neighbourhood, and vice versa. When guests enter, they don’t step into an entryway; they step right into the action.

With direct access to the backyard, the home office is a retreat both for quiet moments and focused work.

Conversely, the rear of the home is dedicated to peace and quiet, and here the slide comes back into play – pun shamelessly intended – marking a transitional space between guest-facing and private sections of the home, where more atypical moves abound. Case in point, natural light was de-prioritized in the master bedroom, so it was situated in the middle of the floor plan across from the slide. Meanwhile, the home office, complete with a wall-spanning whiteboard and pair of tables with integrated power, occupies a prime location at the rear of the home, with access to the backyard via floor-ceiling sliding glass doors. Downstairs, or rather down-slide (sorry), the kids’ bedrooms are next to not one but a pair of bathrooms, which helps quell potential battles on busy school mornings.

The front window, framed by an eye-catching cedar screen, provides a view both into the ground floor and basement.

So yes, the home bucks tradition. Instead, it’s tailored to the particular wants, needs and lifestyle of a family of five, some less obvious – like its atypical layout, and a rental suite overhead, rather than below – and others – like the one roto-molded from powder blue plastic – a lot less so. REFLECTARCHITECTURE.COM

Reflect incorporated contemporary details that updated the property but still respected the streetscape.

Categories: Spaces