These Twin Residences in Toronto Form One Barn-Like Shape
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These Twin Residences in Toronto Form One Barn-Like Shape

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By Lauren Jones
Combining barn aesthetics with loft-style living, Ancerl Studio transforms two dilapidated homes in Parkdale.

When designer Nicholas Ancerl came across a "For Sale" sign in Toronto’s artsy, multicultural neighborhood of Parkdale, he knew the property was an opportunity for Ancerl Studio. The lot held two semi-attached homes that "were in such disrepair that they needed a complete overhaul: just the type of project we love to take on," says director Maxime Bocken.

In Toronto’s West End lies Sorauren 116, one half of a dual residential development that was completed over an arduous, three-year period by Ancerl Studio. 

The property was a serendipitous find by designer Nicholas Ancerl and a development partner, who were driving through the quaint streets of Parkland. The new facade features black house numbers from Gingers, loft-style windows from Kingshore Windows & Doors, and antique brick from King Masonry.

The plan would be to mimic the peaks and rooflines of the existing homes but turn the two dilapidated structures into two detached, single-family homes, now known as Sorauren 116. It would be quite the challenge working within such a narrow lot. 

At only 18 feet wide, the home relies on verticality to hold functional spaces. "We had to be resourceful and innovative in our space-planning," says Bocken. "The tight lot also brought challenges when the home’s steel staircases were craned in and brick facades were assembled on-site." 

Oiled, wide-plank, white oak flooring from Stone Tile runs through the first floor.

Designed with the barn vernacular in mind, Sorauren 116 reads as one volume of brick, steel, and glass from the street, but closer inspection reveals a separation of the two homes. 

Ancerl Studio chose a mix of contemporary and traditional materials including yellow-toned brick, reclaimed hemlock barn boards, and black steel-framed windows. From the materials to the homes’ unusual shed-like forms, it was all about "creating a sense of arrival, so guests are fully engaged as they explore the property," he says.

Heritage hemlock, purchased from Old Order Mennonites, clads one of the facades. "The whole [aging] process takes about three years to get the boards into the position where they have turned gray enough," says Bocken.

Nearly 3,000-square-feet with 30-foot ceilings, each residence has three bedrooms and easily fits a family of five. 

Inside, Ancerl Studio designer Tara Finlay played up the materials, including the warm and inviting feel of the timber, exposed brickwork, and wood-paneled staircase, keeping the finishes "as honest as possible while adding emotive touches," she says.

In the kitchen, crisp white cabinets complement a walnut table from Space Furniture. Custom lighting from JD Lighting Tech emphasizes the verticality of the home. The dining chairs are from Industry West.

The first floor holds the main living spaces, including the spacious, all-white kitchen with imported marble countertops and handmade subway tile. From there, the home leads into the living room: a cozy, compact space at the back of the property with a minimalist color palette, layered textures, a custom sectional by Ancerl Studio, coffee table from Arteriors Home, and textiles from Homesense. Guided by the look and feel of a loft, the entire home feels open and airy thanks to large windows.

The living room offers a touch of Nordic simplicity with a combined steel TV unit and fireplace from Space Furniture, rattan chair from IKEA, C-shape gunmetal table from Casalife, and art from Cocoon Furnishings. 

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The second-floor landing has unobstructed sight lines to the street and enjoys natural lighting. 

Moving up, the third floor is meant to be both glamorous and energizing and dedicated to the master bath and en-suite. 

"It includes a lush bedroom and private balcony overlooking mature treetops with a specious dressing room leading to a marble-tiled bathroom," says Bocken. There’s a double vanity, standalone tub, and open shower.

The tranquil master suite features a custom bed by Ancerl Studio and custom black marble cube nightstands. The brown leather bench is from Elte Mkt, and the rug is from West Elm. 

The flooring—purple jade marble tile from Creekside Tile—is the show-stopper in the master bath. There's also a custom vanity and a Top Bath tub.

Related Reading: A Narrow Victorian in Toronto Gets a Mullet Makeover

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Ancerl Studio / @ancerlstudio, Daniel Karpinski Architect

Builder/General Contractor: Quantum Spec Project Management

Structural Engineer: RPS Engineering INC

Landscape Design Company: Desjardins Landscaping / @desjardinslandscaping

Cabinetry Design: Space Furniture / @spacefurniture

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