Skip to Main Content

A Once-Dark Victorian Reaches its Peak Potential


Creative Union Network merges smart minimalism with classic architecture in a growing family’s home renovation

For homeowners Shelley Simmons and Paul Haley, a random request to rent out their laneway suite in 2016 turned out to be synergistic in more ways than one. Not only did a strong friendship develop between the entrepreneurial couple and Creative Union Network founders Timothy Mitanidis and Claudia Bader, but the fateful meeting also jumpstarted a much larger project.

Third Floor Renovation, Toronto Design

The layout of this family home in Little Portugal was totally redone to allow for cozy spaces, but also a sense of light and flow. General contractor, Harris Builds.

Simmons and Haley, a realtor, who had one child at the time, had already undergone a major basement and main-floor-kitchen renovation, however, certain issues were not addressed. “There was a lack of light throughout the home, [and] defined spaces with limited use,” says Bader. Compounding the choppy layout, “the scale of furniture and design elements, like the fireplace and kitchen island, were too large for a small Victorian home.”

Third Floor Renovation, Little Portugal

The kitchen island was purposefully placed closer to one side of the room allowing for a generous passageway through to the family room and garden. Countertop, Great Mountain Soapstone; light fixture, Castor Design.

Craving a third-floor, adults-only sanctuary, the couple showed their initial design for a third-floor addition to Creative Union Network asking for advice. It included a primary bedroom, ensuite, as well as a workout-office area complete with outdoor space. The result was three years in the making: conversations, friendships and design ideas evolved, and a second child arrived making the need for a third bedroom more pressing

Family Home Design

Claudia Bader of Creative Union Network designed the sofa to have pull-out drawers for storage and to transform the sofa into a U-shape if desired. Millwork, Soco Woodwork, upholstery, The Big Stuff.

“They realized how important it is to get the layout right and what smart design decisions can do for you,” says Bader. That’s when Simmons and Haley enlisted the studio to re-think the main floor of the 2,200-square-foot home in Little Portugal.

Third Floor Renovation, Creative Union Network

LEFT A mix of old and new creates the perfect balance in this whole home renovation by Creative Union Network. Flooring, Stone Tile. RIGHT A custom-designed, perforated white-metal staircase leads to the third floor oasis. Staircase consultation, Blackwell engineers; stair supply and install, CLS Welding.

The feeling of continuity and connection of the spaces is no random occurrence either. “All horizontal surfaces are white oak and all vertical ones are either white or walnut,” says Bader. “We omitted hallways to allow for more useable space, as well as created visual separations to give a sense of privacy where desired.” A louvered screen at the bottom of the stairs, a pocket door at the third-floor entrance to the parents’ suite, and a balcony between the primary bedroom and recreational space impart the home with a unique and spacious feel.

Bedroom Design Ideas

The principal bedroom integrates a small outdoor patio at the side. Sink, Surface 1; fixtures, Kohler.

The unique triangular floor-to-ceiling window that integrates the gable structure is the perfect office nook. An Executive Producer of an innovation consulting company for ad agencies, Simmons enjoys the tree-lined neighbourhood views, which inspire and offer a welcome respite.

Creative Union, Toronto Design

The third floor operates as a flex space and is used for work, play and yoga. The floor-to-ceiling window transforms the home, inside and out. Fireplace, The Fireplace Stop.

Inviting fireplaces, custom furniture, mood lighting, colourful eye-catching art and light fixtures are just some of the thoughtful design choices that make this third floor renovation truly exceptional. Perhaps though, more than the aesthetic and functional improvements, the actual experience of living in a new environment that inspires a new way of thinking and adopting a new lifestyle is the true power of great design. “With less visual clutter, we have a different respect for things in that we just have less stuff and are way happier that way,” says Simmons. “We live a more minimalist life now with less things. Plus, there is a lot of storage space, so we see less stuff and we want to keep it that way.”

Designlines Magazine

Driven by its third floor renovation, the new and improved home stands out for all the right reasons.

For Bader and Mitanidis, the creative collaboration between client and architect is key, and in this case, the insights gleaned as friends-first offered a distinct advantage. “In the end, if the client is happy with the space and continues using it the way we envisioned it to be used, that is what makes it successful.” CREATIVE-UNION.NET



Your Weekly Dose of Modern Design

Sign up for the Designlines weekly newsletter to keep up with the latest design news, trends and inspiring projects from across Toronto. Join our community and never miss a beat!

Please fill out your email address.

The Magazine

Get the Latest Issue

From a sprawling family home in Oakville to a coastal-inspired retreat north of the city, we present spaces created by architects and interior designers that redefine the contemporary.

Designlines 2024 Issue