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A Century-Old Home Gets a Refined New Look


Brass details and curved oak ribbons define the small-home renovation by architecture and art studio SVIMA

If one half of a couple loves “bright and French country kitchen” and the other “tenebrous minimalism” what style is their house? It’s not a riddle, but rather the design brief that architecture and art studio SVIMA accepted when renovating a Toronto couple’s century-old home in Eglinton West. After living in the house for a decade, the owners, Troy and Amelie and son Ben, wanted to streamline and organize their books and belongings, and carve out a truly unique expression of who they are in the process.

Century Old Home Reno

Iterations of the millwork design were rigorously tested and rendered in 3D, to ensure the design maximizes storage. Engineered wood flooring, Tosca Flooring; coffee table by Derek McLeod, chair by Patrick Norguet, Founded by Garcia.

The studio, formed in 2021 by artists and architects Anamarija Korolj and Leon Lai, landed on a dual design that addressed both clients’ aesthetic preferences and focused on what they both love – art, design, beauty. “These clients did not want a typical Japandi home; they were not interested in blond woods, sterile minimalism, plain white walls, none of that! They wanted something cozy, deep, bursting with life,” says Korolj.

Living Room Design

A custom sofa in the living room extends the curved theme. Table lamp, LightForm.

The 100-year-old detached house had undergone many renovations over the years, so it also needed some practical considerations throughout. Amelie, who works in children’s publishing and Troy, who works in architecture, desperately needed room for storage.

For SVIMA, the initial vision involved a cerebral approach. “In trying to unite the clients’ opposing design tastes, I saw commonality in the thought of sunlight, but not a typical harsh sunlit day; instead, a muted, filtered sunlight, something like the edge of a rain cloud illuminated by a golden sunset, or the sun outlining some dusky sand dunes on Lake Huron,” says Korolj.

Designlines Magazine Reno Century Old Home

Oak ribbons curve in areas where sharp corners would not fit or would stop the flow of movement.

The vision for the brass portals came early in the design and was an anchor point through the process. Dark oak complements the brighter white walls and reflective brass. The result is an elegant colour palette than nods to today’s design trends while still honouring the century-old home’s heritage feel.


Brass details add contrast and warmth to the kitchen’s white walls and countertop.

In the kitchen, textural blue and white Italian tile – a contemporary take on Dutch Delft or hand-painted Portuguese tiles – adds vibrancy to the darker woods and gives a warm, nostalgic feeling. “I was enamoured by the thought of these openings reflecting golden light into the space, tying together the kitchen and dining room, allowing for a plate of food to be passed over a sublime threshold. The clients loved the brass openings as soon as they saw them; it was their favourite part. Amelie said, ‘Can we get more brass, maybe more brass portals in the living room?!’”

Century Old Home Kitchen Reno

Backsplash, Marazzi; cabinet pulls, Canada Door Supply.

The curves also help the smaller, compartmentalized rooms of the 1800-square-foot house feel larger by providing wayfinding of sorts. In the living room, a full-height bookshelf curves as does the custom sofa creating lines that draw you through the house with ease. “The design hinges on ribbons curving through the space, guiding the motion through the rooms and making them feel bigger, says Korolj. The century-old home was transformed on a smaller budget with thoughtful design decisions that energize the space and add wow factor. “As architects, we see constraints as the vehicle for creating beauty; often a project with significant constraints can be even more beautiful than a tabula rasa.” SVIMA.CA



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