Decorating & Design

April 28, 2022

Inside A Toronto Victorian Updated With Contemporary Curves

Little did empty-nesters Jane Cooke-Lauder and Craig Lauder know what surprises lay ahead when they decided to sell their large family home and downsize to a smaller place downtown — but they were eager to find out. Such a move is the perfect excuse to start from scratch, leaving all remnants of your past behind. For those with no style skeletons in their closet, a reset can become a treasure hunt — a chance to pair brave new pieces with prized family heirlooms for a totally fresh look.

Jane and Craig knew they’d found The One the moment they stepped inside the 139-year-old Victorian home in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighborhood. Free of their former house that was packed with sofas and chairs no one sat on except for their dog, Lexi, they camped out for three months in their newly purchased home — bare save for the two beds, kitchen table and chairs they had brought with them — and plotted their renovation. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do, and living in the house just reinforced that,” says Jane, who turned to Toronto designer Andi Wheelband of Two Birds Design for help in making their vision a reality.

A third-floor deck the previous owner had added was unsafe and had to be rebuilt. “When you start to alter an old house, it becomes the art of the possible, not always exactly what you want.” They had to ditch their idea of gaining bonus space by digging out the shallow basement when they discovered it would double the cost of the renovation. The Lauders both own businesses and work from home, so the existing 2,500 square feet was quickly eaten up in creating the light and airy living space they craved. The couple wanted to create a second-floor guest room for visitors, a bedroom suite for their daughter, Lindsay, to come home to, and transform the entire third floor into a loft-like principal suite for themselves. The dumpster and sledgehammers arrived in January 2020, and the reno, smack-dab in the midst of the pandemic, took five months. The payoff is a reconfigured floor plan designed to fit their lifestyle.

Scroll down to see inside this contemporary-meets-classic Toronto home!

Author: Barbara Sgroi

Lauren Miller


House & Home


Andi Wheelband (Two Birds Design)

Architecture: Perspective Views