My friend Rebecca was very excited to show me her latest reno project; after six years in her current house, she and husband Dan had finally removed their eighth (and final?) wall, the one standing between them and their backyard. Instead of having to go out a side door and around to the back, sliding glass doors now provide outside access and abundant light.
Like so many young couples in gentrifying cities, Rebecca and Dan fought their way onto the property ladder then slowly scaled it one rung at a time. Their Victorian semi in Toronto’s Palmerston/Little Italy neighbourhood was a duplex when they bought it and so it stayed for the first two years while they adjusted to taxes, a mortgage and all the other joys of home ownership.
When their first daughter arrived, they knew they would need to reclaim the upstairs living space; when their second daughter joined the family there was no turning back. The renos have come slowly as the couple could afford them, first as part of realigning the upstairs — eliminating a now-redundant extra kitchen, for starters — and then to unify and beautify the main floor.
The before pics, above, will be familiar to anyone who has lived through a renovation, but doing it all with young children ought to come with a special merit badge. To see the space now, all white, bright and calm is to completely forget the mess and expense.
During our house-tour tea I observed that Rebecca and Dan must really like white because they’ve used it as a neutral throughout the house. “I like a calm palette,” she said, “that then gets coloured up like crazy with the frenetic energy and very bright clothes/toys/drawings/laughter of my kids and life in general.”
I appreciate the observation that if your life comes with lots of colour, your interior doesn’t necessarily have to provide it.
Before all the walls came down it didn’t matter that there were four disparate light fixtures on the main level because they were all in different rooms; now with those spaces conjoined and unified with bamboo flooring throughout, harmonizing the lighting is on the do-to list. It’s one of those things you don’t think about until the walls are gone.
On the second floor are the girls bedrooms and a roomy family den for TV and lounging.
The third floor is reserved for the master suite, a spacious sanctuary away from the chaos of family life.
Rebecca and Dan splurged on a beautiful marble bathroom, their reward for living through this long and sometimes painful transition from duplex to beautiful family home.
Click through for a few more pics and vignettes . . .