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Suburban Transformations: A Family Renovation in London

November 19, 2019

Story: Nicole Laidler

Photography: Jason Hartog

When it comes to purchasing an older home, there are two things that can’t be changed: the location and the lot size. Those features were enough to convince this young family to take a chance on a traditional suburban property in south London.

The house itself, however, was not at all what the homeowner had in mind. Built in 1979, the layout lacked flow and the décor was dated. But the spacious back yard, the proximity to the highway and a great listing price won the day.

“We knew we were going to do a complete renovation,” the homeowner says, “but we lived here for four months before we figured out what we wanted to do with the space.”

The couple brought in Sylvie Roth of Sylvie’s Interior Design and contractor Peter Dextlerof Westchester Homes Ltd. to bring their vision to life.

“I wanted something open with a Scandinavian feel – warm, earthy and inviting,” the homeowner That necessitated a complete rethink of the existing layout. Once work started, the family moved in with relatives during a year-long renovation that saw Peter gut the interior back to its studs.

Almost every wall on the ground floor was removed in order to create a floor plan where distinct living areas now flow together, Sylvie explains. “We had to install some supporting beams,” she notes. “When I saw them, we made the decision to leave them exposed.”

The black beams give the home an urban, contemporary feel. Black window frames from Gentek Building Products complete the slightly industrial aesthetic, and create a stylish contrast to the Winter White walls by Benjamin Moore and Hard Maple Reactive flooring throughout from Townsend Lumber Inc.

These homeowners love to host their extended family, so a functional kitchen and spacious dining area were a must.

A custom table takes centre stage in the sun-filled dining room. Designed and crafted by Andy Roth of Roth Design Inc. it can comfortably seat up to 14 guests. “We were able to choose this slab of wood,” says the homeowner. “I love that it has a live edge, and that it still retains a rectangular shape even though it’s so large.”

The adjacent kitchen is a study in sophisticated function. “The original kitchen was tiny and completely closed off,” the homeowner notes.

Today, the space is unrecognizable. Designed and built by Kaz Carpentry, the kitchen is anchored by a large centre island topped with black leathered granite from Classic Granite & Marble Ltd. The heart of this busy family home is kept uncluttered thanks to plenty of storage tucked underneath. There is also a spacious pantry adjoining the kitchen.

Upper cabinetry is kept to a minimum. Instead, floating shelves punctuate the walls, which are finished with white subway tile from Centura London.

An avid cook, this homeowner incorporated two ovens and a gas range with warming shelves, all from Goemans Appliances, into her kitchen design. “Food is the most important thing,” she says. “I’m always baking.”

After a meal, family and friends can relax in the intimate adult-oriented living room or make themselves at home in the comfortable family room. With a newly created vaulted ceiling and sliding doors (North Pole Trim & Supplies Ltd.) that lead onto a large deck, the room is bright and welcoming.

Evenings can be spent gathered around the original wood-burning fireplace, which now boasts a sleek surround of black textured tile (Centura). A custom coffee table (Roth Design Inc.) sits in front of two oversize sofas from Austin & Taylor Home Furnishings Inc., creating the perfect spot to kick back after a long day.

In order to keep the disorder of family life out of sight, the renovation included the creation of a large mudroom and pantry off the garage. Custom cabinetry (Kaz Carpentry) provides ample space for toys, small appliances, shoes, coats and more.

A floating staircase (Westchester) with glass railing from Glass Canada Limited leads upstairs. Here, the homeowners decided to eliminate a bedroom in order to create a truly spacious master retreat that includes a large walk-in closet and laundry room.

In striking contrast to the wood throughout the rest of the house, the bedroom and its adjoining en suite bathroom feature a black tiled floor (Centura). The choice was made for practical and aesthetic reasons, Roth explains.

A distressed blue area rug adds warmth to the bedroom, while a feature wall painted Teal (Benjamin Moore) adds a playful splash of colour to the bathroom. The bathroom also features a floating, spalted-maple vanity with hammered copper vessel sinks, custom made by Roth Design Inc.

“Andy also made the matching mirror,” the homeowner notes. Black matte Jason Wu fixtures and a freestanding tub from Aqualuxe as well as a large walk-in shower complete the luxurious retreat.

The family has plans to finish the basement, and are working with Eden Gardenworks to turn their large lot into a cultivated green oasis. “We have a three-year plan,” says the homeowner. “This is our forever home, and we love it.”