Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Toronto home addition blends heritage and contemporary design

1 of 6

Small addition to a Toronto two-storey Arts and Crafts-style house by Mary Tremain of Plant Architect.

Craig A. Williams

2 of 6

The addition revamps the back of the house and integrates thoughtful and well-detailed contemporary interventions with an architectural antique from the 1920s. The owners wanted to bring some views into the kitchen while expanding storage and floor space, adding a desk for the kids to do homework, and improving the stairs to the basement. And as one of the owners explains, they had mixed emotions about what approach to take. “My husband loves contemporary design and I like the old,” she says. “The challenge was to make us both happy.”

Craig A. Williams

3 of 6

The kitchen and dining area – part 1920s, part 1990s – remain. But they extend out a few feet farther toward the backyard; a custom desk, made of dark-stained oak, looks out through a very large window framed in Spanish cedar. To the right, a series of cabinets holds a microwave and pantry storage; to the left, a new stair winds down to the basement. The spaces are clearly defined and well-linked.

Craig A. Williams

4 of 6

The materials and details add a layer of complexity. A pendant light by Vancouver’s Bocci hangs over the stair, a constellation of glass and tiny points of light. The extensive new cabinetry and woodwork comes in two hues, the dark oak – which matches the old wainscoting – and a white oak with a pale stain that is very of-the-moment.

Craig A. Williams

Story continues below advertisement

5 of 6

A few accents of hot orange spice up the interior, including a handrail leading down to the basement. This is a rounded channel cut into a wall of wood, comfortable under the palm and very 21st century in its composition. (“And great for racing Hot Wheels, it turns out,” the mother of three says dryly.)

Craig A. Williams

6 of 6

From the backyard, the addition can be seen for what it is: a tasteful expansion that leaves the dignity of the house intact. At ground level, a new flagstone patio defines the base of the addition. Above that, the kitchen’s big window expands into a rectangular bay. “It has the feeling of a box that’s hovering above the ground, and the second floor addition reads like another box above that,” Tremain explains. “It’s a very contemporary addition, but the materials and the details marry it into the old house.”

Craig A. Williams

Report an error Editorial code of conduct