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The Globe and Mail

Design-savvy reno updates an aging urban home

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No. 2 Virtue St. in Toronto’s West End. In renovating the home, designers Reigo & Bauer left the basic footprint unchanged, but fully updated the home while giving it a contemporary skin.

Ben Rahn/A-Frame

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The owners, originally from Germany, liked the solution of fibre cement panels – a product that originated there and is becoming popular in Europe and starting to catch on in North America. Intended as a “skin” to modernize existing structures, the panels have a finely lined surface, which give them a more organic look than the alternative of high-pressure laminate. The white colour reflects the heat in the summer, and a ventilated rain screen has open horizontal joints to allow air to pass through and moisture to drain out.

Ben Rahn/A-Frame

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The designers removed the heavy front porch and replaced the door with a custom steel model, also from Germany, which adds to the contemporary feel. They replaced the upstairs bay window with a flat design with weathered zinc cladding. They turned the other front-facing upstairs window into a door opening onto a new second-floor balcony.

Ben Rahn/A-Frame

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A remake of the back of the house created a welcoming oasis in the shade of a giant walnut tree. Stairs leading up to the first floor are of metal grating, which also allows in more light. And the same colour of powder-coated aluminum rails tie in with the front of the house and provide an interesting counterpoint to the white cement panels in the back.

Ben Rahn/A-Frame

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A view of the house before the renovation.

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