A Mind-Bending Staircase Brings This Toronto Townhouse to the Next Level
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A Mind-Bending Staircase Brings This Toronto Townhouse to the Next Level

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By Lucy Wang
Clean lines, pops of color, and sweeping forms transform a traditional townhouse into a sleek, contemporary abode.

In Toronto’s Forest Hill neighborhood, a bold, sophisticated renovation has injected new life into an old townhouse while carefully retaining the building’s 20th-century bones.

The modern renovation is largely the work of local firm Reigo & Bauer, who incorporated bright colors and sculptural forms to reshape the home—starting with a curving central stair that ties the house together.

Built to replace a traditional rectangular stairway, the curving open-riser staircase features extra-wide black treads that pop against white guardrails.

The curving staircase captures changing light at different times of day.

The home’s new sense of drama is further enhanced with improved sight lines to the outdoors—a nearly unbroken expanse of glazing pulls in views of a refreshed landscape designed by Amantea Architects—and vivid colors, textures, and patterns that add depth to the predominately neutral and minimalist backdrop.

A view from the entryway to the open-plan living and dining room. All finishes, furnishings, and millwork were replaced for the renovation.

The home’s neutral canvas—predominately white with charcoal and black accents—is spiced up with colorful accents that range from dark blue to pink.

The structural changes also improved the home’s functionality. A two-car garage replaced the formal dining room, and the living room and study were combined into an open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area that connects to the family room via a new doorway and custom-milled stairs.

The dining room occupies the threshold between the sunken family room (past the sliding glass doors) and the living room. The reconfigured layout and removal of a dividing wall help unify the formerly disparate spaces.

Shop the Look
Medley Danu Dining Table
The Danu Dining Table is an attractive addition to your dining area, whether at work or home. The hand crafted elegance of this table will be a pleasure to have at the center of any entertaining you do in your home. The flare of the legs in this modern table comes from a Danish design.
Gubi Beetle Dining Chair
Gubi’s Beetle is a collection of elegant and comfortable chairs, designed by Danish-Italian design duo GamFratesi. Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi drew their inspiration for the playful chair design from the anatomy of beetles, which is apparent in the delicate, insect-like legs and hard, curved shell.
Resident Hex 750 Brass Pendant Light
The Hex 750 Brass Pendant Light was designed by Resident Studio in 2013, and is made in New Zealand. Named for its geometric shape, the Hex 750 Brass Pendant Light features a low-profile and a minimalist design.

"On the main floor, sliding doors with large glass panes framed in black steel pair modern minimalism with traditional panel-door proportions," say the architects.

Although the home is strikingly contemporary, preserved elements of the building’s original shell can be seen—such as the drywall details that correspond to the ornamental baseboards and door casings.

In the garnet-colored powder room, a classic Victorian four-panel door has been reinterpreted with rounded grooves in place of panels.

"Blank white sections of the main floor walls seem to sit slightly in front of a second, charcoal-colored plane with ornamental baseboards, representing the existing shell of the house; these layered white insertions define the charcoal-colored accent walls, frame the fireplace, and create proscenium-like borders for prominent doorways," note the architects.

Reigo & Bauer’s love of highly textured fabrics is evident in their selection of diverse furnishings.

A view of the serpentine staircase from above.

The central staircase connects all three floors of the 7,000-square-foot Toronto townhouse.

Different flooring materials add rich textural detail to the home. The main floor features pewter-toned hardwood, while the second and third floors feature sand-colored hardwood. Bianco marble features in the foyer and the kitchen floors and island.

Dark blue and pink accents, seen in these chromatic circles, are peppered throughout the home and appear in the art, area rugs, and furnishings.

The outstanding custom millwork—a collaboration with Amantea Architects—was also key in harmonizing the new modern features with the traditional elements and achieving a crisp and clean look throughout.

Surrounded by custom millwork steps, the sunken living room features a refurbished fireplace with a custom metal firewood box and handrail.

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MINNA Recycled Cotton Throw Pillows
Cuddle, fluff, repeat.  Handwoven by a family run co-op in Chiapas, Mexico this sturdy pillow is made from 100% cotton fabric with stripes of recycled fabric. If you look closely, you’ll notice each textured stripe is different—so yep, each pillow is completely and beautifully unique.
Kim Salmela Cream Benson Swivel Chair
Available online exclusively at One Kings Lane: This refined swivel chair envelopes you in luxury and comfort with allover shearling-style upholstery, a beautifully contoured back, and ample foam and fiber padding. A brass finish on its round, recessed base contrasts beautifully with the upholstery.
Oluce Atollo Glass Table Lamp
The opal glass Atollo table lamp, is truly a work of art. The top section contains two lamps and the base cylinder a separate lamp. Available in three sizes.  Master designer Giuseppe Ostuni founded Italy-based lighting brand Oluce in 1945.

Custom millwork steps replace a dividing wall that was removed to create a sense of openness and connection between the living spaces. Note the wet bar, backed by a low bench, that visually separates the kitchen from the sunken family room.

Dining chairs upholstered in black and pink surround the breakfast table. The kitchen floors and island are made of Bianco marble.

Driftwood-colored veneer was used for storage cabinetry throughout the main floor.

Related Reading:

35 Swoon-Worthy Staircases That Are a Step Above the Rest

This Quirky Toronto House Is Far From Color Shy

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Reigo & Bauer / @reigoandbauer

Interior Design: Reigo & Bauer

Landscape Design: Amantea Architects

Millwork Design: Reigo & Bauer and Amantea Architects

Structural Engineer: Blackwell

Construction: Stockridge Construction

Millwork Fabrication: Gibson Greenwood

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