Today’s House Tour is an exercise in believing the unbelievable. You too could live like this, IF – and it’s a substantial IF – you put your money where it’s worth it, and actually thoroughly plan your reno around your day-to-day priorities.
That’s exactly what the owners of this Toronto Cabbagetown (downtown east) residence did when they retained Dubbeldam Design Architects to gut and extend their 100-year-old Victorian home. See, when it comes to a good plan, the first thing you need to make peace with is that you can’t do it yourself. Unless you’re Heather Dubbeldam – principal of Dubbeldam Design Architects – and the like.
Heather’s project brief had three majour stipulations (aside from the clients’ choice of a minimal, modern design):
- the historical façade was to remain unharmed and seamlessly integrated into the new design
- bring ample light and airiness to the traditionally dark and narrow interior of a Victorian space,
- create more usable but sustainable space through smart built-ins and integrated structures, allowing for easy, clutter-free living.
The most unbelievable part, Heather discloses, is that the reno was done for around $139/sf – dollars per square foot is the official language in which you estimate the cost of your reno when talking with architects and designers – which is actually quite low. The resulting look however – and you can take my word for it – appears more like a $200 – $300/sf kind of project. It’s all about smart choices she says; “ …we used standard Ikea cabinets and built them in to look custom, used off-the-shelf sliding doors paired with smaller custom windows, sourced inexpensive materials (wood floors, tiles, etc) that look great but cost as little as $5/sf.” The floors were especially important as they were chosen to be the chief source of warmth in the house. The dark, rich colour throughout the house adds instant depth to the minimal design.
By taking the plunge to retain an experienced, in this case award-winning architect and designer (Cabbagetown Residence won Best of Category at Toronto’s Design Exchange Awards in 2008) the lucky owners pulled off a dream home in a typical sliver of downtown Toronto land.
Yes, they do live like this most of the time, because their well-planned and well laid-out home makes it easy!
What do you think? Are you waffling on whether to hire an architect vs simply a project manager?