Grace House: Full Renovation and Addition to a House from the 1890s

Grace House: Full Renovation and Addition to a House from the 1890s

Architects: oo design co
Project: Grace House
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Photography: Scott Norsworthy

Located in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood, Grace House is a full renovation and addition to a house from the 1890s creating a connected and light-filled home for a young family with a segregated second suite at the lowest level.

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Three distinct service pods organize and anchor the kitchen, dining and living areas and form a filter to the main entry. Overlooking the street from a counter related window, the kitchen is located at the front of the house. The living room opens directly onto the garden through a new rear portico, with the dining room nestled between them. Bedrooms are arranged around a breakout space on the second floor, which can change function as the family grows and changes. Located on the third floor, the family room accesses a large roof terrace with views to the downtown core. The front porch was reduced in length defining an open court and stairwell as a discreet, yet generous entry for the lowest level second suite.

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Two offset double height openings straddle the second floor breakout area bringing light and active connection between the three levels of the home. The second washroom and breakout area borrow light from across an opening between the ground and second levels. The new staircase to the third floor is edged with a slatted wall and has multiple facing windows that lend morning and evening light to the second floor. Colour changes in light are registered in this space as the sun moves through the course of the day.

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The Ground floor is finished with white oak flooring and panels with white panel millwork and is anchored by black slate in the kitchen and the hearth at opposite ends. The palette simplifies vertically where the third floor family room is reduced to all white surfaces, revealing the rich complexity of the roof geometry, layered slat walls and multiple sources of daylight.

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The front elevation is modestly updated yet relates to the neighbourhood context. The original red brick is countered with black stained wood elements while thin white elements are utilized as tracings outlining distinct features. White becomes the dominant element on the rear facade through the use of cement board, aluminum slats and articulated with cedar siding that frames views to the internal living spaces and the original brick house beyond. The new portico is mirrored across the garden in the new garage creating continuity across the site. All flat roofs are designed and planted as green roofs to connect adjacent interior spaces to the garden below.

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