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© Doublespace Photography


Project Name: Forest Hill House Location: Toronto Ontario Area: 7,000 sf ( 650 m2) Completion: 2019 Architecture & Interiors: Reigo & Bauer Millwork Design: collaboration with Amantea Architects Design Team: Stephen Bauer, Merike Bauer, Nuria Macias Fernandez, Kyle Brill Structural Engineer: Blackwell Millwork Fabrication: Gibson Greenwood Construction: Stockridge Construction Photography: Doublespace Photography 


To refurbish an existing home in Forest Hill, Toronto, local firm Reigo & Bauer implemented a complete renovation and interior design that brings together the home’s formerly diverse areas, modernizing them functionally and aesthetically. Reigo & Bauer has imbued a thoroughly contemporized space with subtle references to traditional design elements culminating in an interior that feels modern, dynamic, and livable.

Reigo & Bauer engaged long time associates Amantea Architects to take the lead on the built-in millwork elements throughout the house, as well as to design the new exterior landscape and pool pavilion. Their tight working relationship on the interior provided seamless integration of millwork with the architectural language. The collaborative approach to project delivery enabled the team to produce a cohesive design both inside and out.

The major interior architectural change is the installation of a central curving staircase with open risers that provide longer sight lines through the main foyer, which replaces a traditional closed rectangular stair. In two sweeping runs, this sculptural staircase binds together the rooms of all three floors around a single gesture that expands both tread width and overhead clearance.

At the rear of the primary, the designers repositioned a powder room and took out a dividing wall along the boundary of a small elevation change. An almost unbroken expanse of windows onto the backyard is provided with this alteration, where landscape designs by Amantea Architect complement the changed elevation feature, the designed staircase element onto the patio, neatly connecting inside and out. The move also widens the views from the lowered family room to the breakfast area, greatly improving the overall feel of openness and connection while a new wet bar, backed by a low bench, creates a visual barrier between the family room and kitchen.

Other structural modifications consist of introducing a two-car garage in place of a formal dining room, and the combination of a living room and study into a more flexible living-dining space attached to the family room via a new doorway and stairs. From its position between the living room and steps to the family room, the dining area forms a transition between programmatic zones while capitalizing on sightlines that give it a vantage point on various areas of the main floor. On the second floor, meanwhile, the designers divided a shared bathroom into two separate private bathrooms and reconfigured the master bath and walk-in closets.

The installation of the garage and revamping the main entryway and second-floor bay window also provided an opportunity to make aesthetic updates to the facade. The ground-floor masonry that flanks the entrance now goes on to the roof line, replacing stucco, while the bay window’s soffit and flashing now match the new garage’s blackened zinc cladding and doors.

While the interior is remarkably modern, traditional elements subtly reintroduced in extraordinary ways suggesting a harmony between new and old. Blank white sections of the main floor walls appear to sit slightly in front of a second, charcoal-coloured plane with ornamental baseboards, representing the existing shell of the house; these layered white insertions elucidate the charcoal-coloured accent walls, frame the fireplace, and set up proscenium-like borders for prominent doorways. On the main floor sliding doors with large glass panes framed in black steel similarly a blend of modern minimalism with traditional panel-door proportions. The classic Victorian four-panel door on the Upstairs is in bedroom doors incised with half-round grooves in place of panels, enlarged and reframed to extend the layering motif. The use of colour throughout the design is limited. A limited amount of charcoal and black is used in striking counterpoint against the dominating white backdrop, determining the doors and window frames, thresholds, stair treads, kitchen backsplash, and the frames of most furnishings. This high-contrast palette is toned down by the intelligent use of textured, pale neutral finishes, including pewter-toned hardwood on the main floor, sand-coloured hardwood on the second and third floors, driftwood-coloured veneer for storage cabinetry throughout the main floor and Bianco marble on the foyer and the kitchen floors and island.

A garnet-coloured powder room on the main floor although the colour accents that top this neutral canvas are dark blue and pink, emerging in wallcoverings, furnishings and area rugs. In specifying all of the house’s furniture, Reigo & Bauer drew from numerous sources to bring together a diverse collection of soft yet clean-lined seating with highly textured fabrics—in some cases as with the black and pink-upholstered dining chairs, customizing unique combinations that summarize the interior’s original use of colour, contrast, and line.