Every Room In This Stunning Church Conversion Is Worth Pinning
This home tour was originally published in the January 2014 issue of House & Home.
In an iconic corner of downtown Toronto sits a huge red-brick Romanesque revival church that was deteriorating until developer Matthew Kosoy bought it in 2007 and transformed it into four luxury freehold residences, keeping one for his own growing family. Matthew and his wife, Ali Yaphe, co-owner of the elegant rug and textile company Y&Co, Ali’s cousin architect Anthony Fieldman and local designer and friend Mazen El-Abdallah conspired to bring life back to a building that had been stripped of much of its original character. For nearly two years, they worked to create a “kick-your-shoes-off” family home. And indeed the transformation has fired up this crumbling old building — a house love story if ever there was one. Click through to see inside.
At the front door, simple boxwood hedges frame the limestone walkways. The original exterior brickwork was preserved where possible (the restoration took a full year and a half to complete). On the windows, dark gray trim gives the traditional red brick a modern update.
Everything in this space was chosen with scale in mind, including the Serge Mouille light fixture, which highlights the ceiling and adds drama without being overwhelming. A slender floor lamp echoes the chandelier’s graceful lines. Mazen designed the monolithic, black Cambrian stone fireplace, which lends visual weight to the living area but doesn’t feel too heavy thanks to its placement between the soaring windows and a door to the private courtyard, one of three outdoor spaces. Ample natural light and sight lines to the outdoors add to the sense of openness.
In the entryway, the proportions of the original church dictated extra-large windows and doors, which beautifully highlight the 13-foot ceiling. A stylized, two-tone lamp plays off the warm vintage rosewood console and ombré rug.
Layers of black in the open kitchen — on the Wishbone chairs and oversized Moooi pendant lanterns — create an intimate setting for the family’s countless dinner parties. Oiled oak flooring will age well over time, especially with the foot traffic from the many friends and family members who spend time here.
To establish the kitchen in the surrounding sea of white walls, designer Mazen chose dark, finely milled rift-cut oak cabinets — with a sandblasted finish for ultimate texture — and extended them right to the ceiling. Contrasting bright white uppers at eye-level keep the wall from feeling too overbearing.
An acrylic coffee table adds a touch of modern chic to the library without taking up too much visual space. On the room’s gallery wall, every piece of art has a story or personal connection for Ali and Matthew; some are by artist-friends or relatives, while others were wedding gifts. A ladder leaning against the full-height bookcase draws attention to the scale of the space.
For the principal bedroom, Ali chose an elegant white linen rug, which, if you look closely, has little slubs of other colors giving it a more exotic yet understated feel.
A floor-to-ceiling gas fireplace between two windows was a somewhat unorthodox choice for the principal bedroom; it mirrors the design of the living room below and creates two cozy nooks on either side, one an ideal reading spot with a cushiony vintage leather chair.
Homeowner Ali with her three-year-old son, Charlie, who’s perched on a vintage Eames chair in the principal bedroom. The entire home was designed to be family-friendly. “Nothing is precious or off-limits,” says Ali’s husband, Matthew.
The principal ensuite is a study in classic natural materials; oiled oak walls at the head and foot of the stand-alone tub increase warmth.
These soft, fringeless towels are a more practical choice than hammams and give the principal bath a spa-like feel. Designer Mazen clad the floors and walls in a luxe limestone, cut into extra-long tiles. The floating vanity makes the 9-foot-wide room feel extra-grand.
Ali was thrilled to rediscover a favorite vintage rug in storage while moving to this house — it fits perfectly in the dressing room. Walnut cabinets keep the space organized, while a vintage Parisian light creates ambience.
Charlie’s room evolved organically, says Ali. The design can easily grow with him; twin beds are ideal for sleepovers, while a staggered stripe Madeline Weinrib rug injects playful pattern.