Tour A Century-Old Home Transformed For A Modern Family
Aside from helping his sister on a remodelling project a few years ago, Peter Pelsinski had never taken on family as a client. The New York-based principal architect and co-founder of Span Architecture was intrigued, then, when his cousin in Toronto called to ask for design advice. The cousin and his wife had just purchased a house on a ravine that was surrounded by thickets of deciduous trees.
Collaborating with designer Allison Willson (who at that time worked with Sarah Richardson Design) and Laura Fremont, Peter stretched the square footage to accommodate the many things his cousin wanted his home to be: part private family hideaway, part workspace, part recreation center. The homeowners also wanted to maintain the dwelling’s original 1920s character, like the Tudor-style façade and the home’s intimate relationship with the ravine. “It was an opportunity to make something amazing with fantastic clients,” says Peter.
Scroll down to step inside this century home reimagined for modern day.
In the serene front entry, a colorful painting of flowers by Montreal-based artist Lucie Leduc adds a pop of color and drama.
The living room’s traditional seating arrangement carves out a cozy space within the main floor’s open-concept layout. Generous windows take full advantage of the home’s leafy ravine setting.
Peter and Allison stand by the home’s show-stopping staircase, which is framed by slivers of walnut and steel. “The stairway is our thumbprint on the house,” says Peter. “There’s a drama to it when you enter, but it’s not ostentatious and it enhances the house’s vertical flow of space.”
The stairwell’s slatted walnut walls separate the formal dining area from the rest of the main living zones. For a playful touch, a cast-resin chandelier by Oly Studio floats above the wood table like a cluster of bubbles.
Simple cabinetry, free of knobs or pulls and finished in a pale olive-beige, creates a soothing look in the minimalist kitchen. Long expanses of white Caesarstone countertops are warmed up by the island’s walnut base and the oak floors.
Comfort was top-of-mind when Allison and Laura pulled together the furniture for the house. The breakfast nook’s striped banquette is paired with Eero Saarinen’s iconic mid-century modern chairs in a walnut and cream bouclé, encouraging lingering over morning coffee. The table, with a steel base and walnut top, was custom made to fit the space perfectly.
For feet-up, watch-the-game-all-day comfort in the rec room, Allison skipped a traditional coffee table and instead paired a roomy sectional with a large leather ottoman. The low, linear fireplace and mod wing chair give the arrangement edgy attitude.
Allison combined a composite backsplash in the bar area with denim blue upholstery, walnut wall panelling and oak flooring to give the lower-level rec room a clubby, relaxed feel. A handsome Ping-Pong table further signals that this is a space for play. “The whole intention of the room is to gather people — whether it’s family friends watching a hockey game or teenagers coming in from the pool,” says Allison.
Extending the mirror in the powder room all the way to the floor creates the illusion that the vanity is floating in space. Likewise, two clear glass pendants appear suspended in the air and are less expected than sconces.
In one owner’s home office, leather club chairs in a rich caramel and a striped flatweave rug radiate an all-season coziness. “We wanted the home to feel just as comfortable and appropriate in the summer as in the winter,” says Allison. Charcoal leather piping on the herringbone linen sofa is a small touch that elevates the room.
Full-height windows give the principal bedroom breathtaking treetop views — and the furniture was placed to take full advantage. A calming palette of blue and almond easily blends with the outdoor scenery while textures and patterns mimic ones found in nature.
A pair of armchairs upholstered in creamy chenille are an ideal spot for taking in the view from the principal bedroom. Smoke tree branches laden with pink plumes make a unique accent.
Book-matched Calacatta marble slabs create a dramatic backdrop for the principal bathroom’s sculptural tub. The window is set low enough to see the view while enjoying a relaxing soak, and a decorative branch adds to the indoor-outdoor feeling.