Tag Archives: Valerie Wilcox

From ravaged to renaissance is a tale of one East York home's transformation

East York home’s transformation a tale of ravaged to renaissance

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East York home’s transformation a tale of ravaged to renaissance

 

Once upon a time, on a quiet crescent in east Toronto, a “For Sale” sign sat on the front yard of a post-war 1950s home. The house was in tragic condition. A pie-shaped lot presented some trying limitations, but it was well situated in an excellent neighbourhood, and had a private driveway with an attached garage. Buyers without construction or design knowledge might not see the opportunity to develop a great family home on this property, but luckily, the new homeowners did. The young couple came to us with excitement, a great attitude, and willing to let our team design and build a house that could meet their growing family’s needs.

Master plan and permits

However, this project was no small undertaking. Designing and getting approval of the plans proved to be more challenging than the construction itself. We explored several preliminary plan options, researched the zoning restrictions for the property, and visited the Committee of Adjustments for zoning variances. The final decision was to do a whole interior and exterior renovation project. This included raising the ground-floor ceiling height and rebuilding the second floor; creating a new third-floor study in the attic space; adding a two-storey rear addition with finished basement below; renovating and finishing the existing basement space; and completely remodelling the existing ground floor.

Ground floor greatness

The homeowners had a strong preference to gain more ceiling height on the ground floor, which led to the decision to destroy and rebuild the existing second floor entirely. With new 10-ft. ceilings, we wanted to optimize the space for better living and entertaining, so we decided to remove the walls between the living room and dining room to allow for a better connection to the new, contemporary kitchen. After enlarging the existing garage, we then converted the existing kitchen into a new mudroom and powder room. Overall, the design of the ground floor was intended to be functional for a family to grow and entertain in.

Privacy matters

On the newly rebuilt second floor, we constructed four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a laundry room. The master bedroom features a walk-in closet and a four-piece ensuite with double vanity. Two of the three remaining bedrooms have private access to their own full bathroom. The second floor is spacious enough to accommodate the entire family, and laid out in a way that provides the master bedroom with privacy.

Light and bright attic

To keep the overall height of the house feeling reasonably scaled, we arrived at the design of a unique roof shape that allowed for a generous third floor, which is minimally visible from the street. The third floor addition in the attic is a great feature to the house, as it is open-concept, light-filled and has a walk-out balcony.

Room to spare

Finally, the existing basement and addition were designed as an extension to the family’s living and entertaining space. A spacious recreation/movie room takes up a sizable portion at the front of the basement, while a guest bedroom and washroom add yet another sleeping arrangement to the overall house. There is plenty of designated storage in the basement, and a small home gym as well. The project in East York is one that our team is very proud of. We managed to deliver one family’s dream home, on a property in which they took a sizable risk on purchasing. With the meaning of home taking on a whole new meaning this year, our city, and world, is reminded just how important it is to love the physical space – from function, comfort and design – to make your home the safe haven we all crave.

Photos: Valerie Wilcox

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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The prep kitchen – Empty nesters attain their long-awaited chef's kitchen

The prep kitchen – Empty nesters attain their long-awaited chef’s kitchen

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The prep kitchen – Empty nesters attain their long-awaited chef’s kitchen

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Undertaking a renovation project is an exciting endeavor, whether it is updating your first home or expanding your existing one to make room for a growing family. However, there is truly something special about renovating your home for a period in your life when you will have more free time; for most, this means preparing for retirement.

Grownup wish list

For the many families we have helped realize their home’s potential for retirement, their goals and priorities are of course different than those of young families. With the kids grown, and perhaps not living at home full time anymore, the concerns of aggressive wear and tear are a thing of the past. It’s time for parents to treat themselves to some of the finer things in life, and focus on that ever-growing wish list that has most likely been building up over the years.

Go-pro kitchen

In this semi-detached Toronto home, the homeowners decided on a two-storey rear addition, plus a basement addition that provided space for a potential income suite. The size of the addition was not driven by the desire to add a family room off the kitchen, which is a very popular feature for growing families. This open-concept ground floor has ample space for a formal living room/dining room and the chef’s kitchen they always dreamed about.

One side of the kitchen is completely dedicated to prepping, and the stainless-steel countertop and backsplash not only makes for easy cleanup, it also gives this space the look of a professional kitchen.

Open-shelving is another element you will find in a professional kitchen. In this space, we incorporated them above the prep counter, which makes it easier to find and grab what you are looking for. On either side of the range, floating shelves are not just decorative, but are used to organize the wide variety of oils, vinegars, sauces and spices that these talented cooks use on the daily.

Timeless & transitional

This timeless kitchen strikes a perfect balance between traditional and modern elements. The shaker door profile will never go out of style but in this particular design, we opted for a skinnier door rail, 1.5″-wide to be precise, to give the doors a sleeker look. The cabinetry hardware was also selected for its thin handles that combine both matte black and stainless-steel finishes.

Fixtures & finishes

The Blanco Culina kitchen faucet is one of my favourites, not only because of its professional look, but also for its ease of use. These faucets also include hints of black, that tie into the light fixtures and decorative cabinetry hardware.

On the range wall of the kitchen, brick-looking tile gives the appearance of a painted brick wall, but offers easy cleanup, unlike that of the real thing. Inspired by the backsplash tile, we selected our paint colours; Benjamin Moore OC-23 Classic Gray, and Benjamin Moore 2134-30 Iron Mountain for the island. Walnut accents on the custom hood, open-shelving and integrated breakfast bar add a warm, modern touch to this timeless white-and-grey palette that these home chefs can enjoy for many years to come.

Sources

CABINETRY: Merlo Woodworking

INTEGARTED BAR AT ISLAND COUNTERTOP: Pionite, Absolute Acajou WY160-TL Timberline, through Merlo Woodworking

STONE COUNTERTOPS: Caesarstone Frosty Carrina, fabricated/installed by Stone Design

STAINLESS-STEEL COUNTERTOP & BACKSPLASH: Perfect Stainless Steel

BACKSPLASH: CeraGres

FLOORING: Value Wood Flooring

SINKS & FAUCETS: Blanco through Roman Bath

APPLIANCES: Caplan’s Appliances

HARDWARE: Shaub And Company through Upper Canada Specialty Hardware

LIGHTING: Universal Lighting

CABINETRY PAINT: OC-23 Classic Gray, Benjamin Moore

ISLAND CABINETRY: 2134-30 Iron Mountain, Benjamin Moore

Natalie Venalainen is a senior designer at Men At Work Design Build Ltd..

She has over 10 years of industry experience and has won several awards including the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s top 30 under 30 design professionals across North America.


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A century of Art Deco

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A century of Art Deco

Photography By Valerie Wilcox

As we move into this new decade, we celebrate a century of Art Deco – the dazzling trend that sparked intrigue and imagination across the world. Through the use of metallic details, bold geometrics and a touch of flair, we will show you how to inject this century-strong motif in every and any room in your home.

Art Deco was a movement in the decorative arts and architecture that originated in 1920s Paris. This non-traditional design style featured gleaming finishes, striking patterns and a repetition of elements. We associate abstract motifs, representational forms and geometric ornamentation with this style, along with streamlined materials like concrete, glass, mirror and metal. The emotional response to Art Deco was immediate, evoking a sense of sophistication, luxury and modernity.

From the Chrysler Building in New York City to the Aldred Building in Montreal, some of North America’s most intriguing buildings reign from this period. Today, we’re excited to see a resurgence of this subtle drama within interior design.

Entry

Art Deco makes a statement without being overdecorated, and what better place to make a statement than your front entry? The foyer is the first and last space you see upon entering and leaving your home, and the perfect opportunity to create a lasting impression.

Go bold with a large angular console accented with metal legs, and add simple structural decor pieces on top. Further enhance this area with a glamorous oversized mirror. Mirrors are a great way to make any space appear larger, brighter and more grand – à la Roaring ’20s.

Living room

The living room is a great place to bring The Jazz Age into your home. Whether you go floor-to-ceiling Art Deco or choose to incorporate the style with smaller elements, like accessories, there are plenty of opportunities to elevate this space.

Shy away from romantic florals and pastel hues, opting instead for bold patterns and strong colours. Monochromatic schemes are typical of the Art Deco style, and rich hues like royal blue and charcoal grey pair perfectly with on-theme metals like chrome and bronze. Incorporate motifs in subtle or impactful ways, from striped throw pillows to dramatic diamond-shaped wallpaper. Embrace the iconic Art Deco fan shape in your accessories or try a ziggurat-patterned area carpet.

Find furnishings with defined lines, but let your seating feel comfortable and lush by using extravagant fabrics like velvet that will make your company ooh and aah.

Kitchen & dinning room

Continue to focus on streamlined shapes and sleek materials as you enter your kitchen and dining areas.

Create a striking kitchen design through the use of dark, rich woods and add polished stainless-steel hardware for a hint of glitz. If you’d like to incorporate colour, go for backsplash tile or kitchen appliances in saturated tones like mustard yellow, dark raspberry or teal.

In your dining room, gear towards distinctive, rectilinear furniture and reflect the glamour of the ’20s through the use of mirror. You could hang a starburst mirror, add an antiqued mirror buffet or go floor-toceiling mirror on one full wall. Finally, go bold with your lighting and choose an opulent chandelier that will awe your dinner-party guests.

Bedroom

Moving into the bedroom, the Art Deco style can prevail without feeling too masculine. While distinguished woods and strong colours are on-theme, they can be balanced with soft, white linens and lamp shades.

The addition of throw pillows will augment the look and feel of your bed, whether you choose contrasting patterns or solid colours in luxe upholstery-like silk. To further create a lavish bedroom, layer a plush sheepskin rug over a high-pile area carpet.

Bathroom

The Art Deco style helps to bring decadent detail and order to small spaces like washrooms and powder rooms. Cover every wall of this space with a dramatic graphic wallpaper, hang a shapely mirror and add eye-catching light sconces.

Dare to bring the sophisticated allure of the 1920s to your home in 2020. Incorporating rich colours, reflective materials, intricate details and bold geometries will add tasteful panache to any space.

Paige Johnston is a Canadian designer and strategist based in New York City. She collaborates and works often with Isabelle Boba, Interior Designer and Founder of LUX Design. paigeajohnston.com & luxdesign.ca

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Make room for mudrooms

Make room for mudrooms

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Make room for mudrooms

The Four Seasons – no, not the luxury hotel chain – the actual seasons that are responsible for supplying the dust, dirt, snow, salt, leaves, grass clippings constantly deposited inside your front entry are a year-round issue. The sandals, shoes, boots, coats, toques, mitts, scarves, ball caps and knapsacks that we drag inside (and out) join in too, making it next to impossible to have a presentable and formal entry in any home – unless you have a mudroom, of course.

A few short steps to a lower level can reduce stress on the main floor. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
A few short steps to a lower level can reduce stress on the main floor. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Lack of space, surplus of footwear

The reality is that many urban homes have tiny main entrances. As such, finding a creative and attractive way to store outerwear becomes challenging. Even if you have the room to tuck away all the outdoor paraphernalia, the floors quickly become an extension of the exterior – and not in the good way – like when architects reference the free flow between the main floor family room and the pool terrace off the bi-folding Nana-wall in Arizona. This is just messy, and when guests come to your door, it is best if they are not greeted with footwear strewn about and forced to step into slush or mud in their socked feet as they enter.

Enter Peacefully – a clean main entry is only achieved with an associated mudroom. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Enter Peacefully – a clean main entry is only achieved with an associated mudroom. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Carve out some unconventional space

The solution is to add to, or creatively remodel, your space to allow for an alternate entrance. With space at a premium in urban house settings, the footprint of homes needs to maximize the lot areas and if they don’t already do so, pushing outward off the side of the existing dwelling is the first natural choice. Second to that, is to push off the back of the home, allowing pedestrians to avoid the front door entirely and access the home from either the side or the back. If neither option is available, a front-facing expansion can occasionally allow for a de-formalization of the main entry and create an expanded combination vestibule/mudroom at the front of the home. Let’s face it, if we get a chance to install some more storage elements, it will instantly make the space feel more clean and organized, reducing clutter and mess. If none of those options are viable, we take a look at a quick floor level shift. Given the main floor in the majority of homes are a couple of feet above established grade (a function of pushing footings at least four feet below grade to avoid the heaving effects of winter frost), a side door at, or close to grade will provide for a short run down to the basement level where one can install a mudroom, leaving only a few stairs to keep clean and removing the mess entirely from the main floor.

Millwork is perfect to hide it all with stylish doors and drawers. Photography: Will Fournier
Millwork is perfect to hide it all with stylish doors and drawers. Photography: Will Fournier

Design considerations

We have developed many different configurations for these rooms and the total space allocations and quality of the finishes are dependent on how many people reside in the home, how many visitors (extended family and close friends) come over on a regular basis, if there is a home-based business on the property, whether the home is a single family dwelling or if there is a secondary suite within the same building, and what the budget provisions are for the undertaking. Closets, millwork, benches, flooring type and natural light are all key considerations in the design.

Use earth tones to hide the dirt we bring in from the outdoors. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Use earth tones to hide the dirt we bring in from the outdoors. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Creative space alternatives

No matter what your existing home and lot may offer, if you are struggling with the mayhem at the front entry, some careful planning and design can go a long way to retain the sanity of all residents and guests visiting your home. It just takes a little creativity, time and initiative. Don’t get bogged down by the conventional labels for spaces. Define how to best allocate the areas of a home for the needs of everyone who lives there. Let’s mudroom together! For your really good friends, invest in one of those kitschy mats that suggest “Back door (or side door) guests are best.” Trust me, you (and they), will be glad you did!

Thinking of a mudroom in your new addition, renovation or custom home project? As always, I recommend you start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional design-builder to help undertake the full project from initial plan, through design, approvals and final construction.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.

@eurodalehomes

416.782.5690


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At Home With Men At Work: Humber Valley Village family home

A Humber Valley Village family home is a labour of love enjoyed well beyond the holidays

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A Humber Valley Village family home is a labour of love enjoyed well beyond the holidays

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

To move or to renovate…this tends to be one of the tougher questions Toronto homeowners are forced to ask themselves when their current house fails to meet their current, much less their future needs. Our clients in Humber Valley Village were faced with this very dilemma, when the love for their charming, corner lot home was overshadowed by its dysfunctional layout and size. The decision was one that certainly took much deliberation, but ultimately, the homeowners loved their house, property and the neighbourhood all too much to leave it. With the decision made, it was now our job to deliver a home that retained the charm and character of the original house, while creating functional living space fit for today’s modern family.

The wish list

The ultimate goal for this project was to expand and update the family’s living space, and to create a flow within the house that allowed them to utilize their backyard. There were a number of delicate design iterations that were thought up before settling on the final plans. The final scope included adding an addition, and remodelling both the main and second floors to be more functional. Some of the changes included relocating and rebuilding the garage, adding a rear, two-storey addition to accommodate relocating the kitchen and second floor master bedroom, and adding a fourth bedroom and laundry room on the second floor.

The design

In terms of interior design, the homeowners wanted a clean, contemporary look that felt warm and inviting. It was designed for a family of four to easily live and grow into, while the open-concept main floor and extra guest bedroom allowed the homeowners to comfortably host parties and overnight guests. Large sliding doors were added along the west wall of the newly relocated kitchen, to allow for a more seamless transition from the house to the backyard. In the kitchen, custom millwork was introduced to add in extra storage and an office nook, and cool neutrals were used in the colour palette to further open up and brighten the space.

One of the key design features in this house is the two-sided fireplace that separates the living room and dining room. In addition to being a design feature, the fireplace acts as structural support to the main floor living space. After opening up the main floor and adding the rear addition, the house needed interior support to bear the open-concept design. The large, two-sided fireplace was a good solution to the structural issue, plus it acts as an interesting design feature that adds just the right elegance to the space.

This particular project stands out for our team, because it’s further proof that using an integrated design-build method is the most efficient and effective way to execute a renovation. We faced a number of challenges throughout this project that forced us to be creative and collaborate amongst each other, and in the end, the homeowners were left with a beautiful and functional house, in a neighbourhood that they love to call home.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm,and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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Men At Work - Bathroom Reno

4 tips to design your dream bathroom

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4 tips to design your dream bathroom

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

We get it. A bathroom renovation is by no means a glamorous undertaking. No matter what the end result looks like, you can count on an unimaginable amount of dust, loud noises and traffic from tradespeople, who you’ll soon get to know all too well. Despite the stress and costs that come with renovating, we promise you that investing in your bathrooms is worth the headache. Aside from the kitchen, bathrooms are hands-down one of the best ways to increase your home’s value while greatly improving your everyday living.

We tend to appreciate good bathrooms the most on those hectic mornings we’re just trying to get out the door, or those relaxing (and often rare) evenings we take the time to run a bath. The functionality and luxuries of good bathrooms come down to thoughtful design and thorough project management. Here’s a handy guide of what we think you should know before taking on your next bathroom renovation project.

1 Set a budget

Our designers and renovation professionals are always stressing how important it is for homeowners to understand the financials behind the renovation. What can you afford? What can you expect to get from spending that kind of money? Setting a realistic budget early on will help your contractor determine what the budget parameters are for each category required to complete the project. For example, a contractor or project manager will know what percentage of your total budget will need to be spent on different trades, and what can be spent on interior selections. Start by determining what you’re willing to spend and what your priorities in spending are; then be sure to communicate that to your contractor from the start.

2 Determine your scope

Decisions like tearing down walls, rearranging plumbing, or adding more natural light through a skylight or window are bound to increase the cost of your project. The longer it takes to finalize big decisions, the longer the life of the renovation – meaning more money spent. Our professionals agree that an average bathroom renovation will take anywhere from six to 12 weeks, however, much of that is dependent on the scope of work that’s been set and the length of the overall design phase.

As the homeowner, the single most important thing you can do to speed up the design phase is to be quick with approving designs and deciding on interior finishes, fixtures and accessories. Something that people tend to greatly underestimate is the time it takes to choose finishes. Today there are seemingly endless options of everything, so it often becomes overwhelming to commit to one faucet, one tub filler, one shower system, when thousands are so readily available.

Another miscalculation that homeowners often overlook is how long it can take the items they chose and ordered to arrive at their home. Longer lead times can be the result of various things, but it’s often due to items being on back order or the manufacturing process happening overseas that cause orders to take weeks, sometimes months, to get to the jobsite. It is for this reason that our design team always stresses the importance of selecting fixtures quickly and placing orders early on to avoid delays and unforeseeable expenses.

3 Lay it out

Once you’ve determined the budget and scope, you can start playing around with the configuration of the space. Consider how you, or those visiting your home, will use that particular bathroom. Is it a kid’s bathroom that requires a bathtub and height considerations? A main floor powder room or a guest bathroom that will be used by many people. Or maybe, this is your dream master ensuite that you’ve been relentlessly pinning inspiration pictures towards for years. Regardless of which bathroom you’re renovating, maximizing the space and layout to be as functional as possible is of the utmost importance. A fun little exercise to try, that always seems to pay off, is to have your family create a wish list that includes ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves.’ Fill out those two sections and present them to your designer and contractor. Lists like these are helpful for everyone involved in the project because they clearly point out the bottom line priorities of the renovation, and what the ‘nice-to-have’ add-ons are.

4 Make it timeless, not trendy

It’s likely that you won’t be renovating your bathroom every few years, so choosing timeless over trendy elements, tends to be worth it in the long haul. Realistically, if your next renovation provides you with a functional bathroom layout and relatively timeless finishes and fixtures, giving your bathroom a little facelift in a few years might be as simple as swapping out sconces or replacing the shower curtain. All this to say, never underestimate the impact that small changes can make to a familiar space that you’ve grown bored of.

Undertaking a bathroom renovation of any sort may seem invasive and overwhelming, but the results will make it worth your while. One way to reduce the stress for you and your family is to hire an experienced Design Build team to take on the project. This will make the experience more enjoyable because you can focus more on the design side of the project (the fun part), and leave the production side in the hands of your trusted contractor.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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At Home With Men At Work

Colour Theory 101: A main floor renovation in Little Portugal hits all the right notes

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Colour Theory 101: A main floor renovation in Little Portugal hits all the right notes

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, and revisit those lessons on colour theory from high school art class; I promise this detour will be quick. Everyone knows that the primary colours are blue, red and yellow. Secondary colours are made by mixing two primary colours together: purple, orange, and green. Tertiary colours are made by (you guessed it), mixing one primary colour and one secondary colour together.

Opposites attract

Now that we’ve got those three terms straight, let’s move on to complementary colours. One common misconception about complementary colours is that they are similar colours. When we say “complementary,” we are actually referring to two colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel. A complementary colour pairing is made up of one primary colour, and one secondary colour that was made without the primary colour it is paired with. The pairs are blue and orange, red and green, and yellow and purple. Scientifically speaking, complementary colours simultaneously stimulate different parts of the eye, which is why we find the combination so appealing. It’s a natural example of opposites attracting. When we are describing similar colours, the technical term is “analogous” colours. They are groups of three colours that are next to each other on the proverbial colour wheel. An example of a trio would be blue, teal and green.

Mood-enhancing hues

Now that we are up to speed on our colour theory, let’s apply it! This is the fun part. First of all, don’t get hung up on the colour of the year. Rather, think about the colours that evoke the atmosphere you want to create in your space. Some may find peace in darker, more dramatic hues, while others find solace in brighter spaces with varying shades of analogous colours. The latter was the case for our client’s ground-floor renovation in Little Portugal. The main goal for the space was to open it up by removing the partition walls. In doing this, we shifted the location of the kitchen toward the back of the home to provide a more formal living/dining space at the front of the house, and a family room right off the kitchen at the back of the house.

Family heirloom plays a new tune

One of the major influences in this design was finding a way to transform the client’s family piano. The piano was no longer in great musical shape, but it had been in the family for decades, so it was an important piece of family history that needed to be preserved. The piano was lovingly disassembled, and the salvaged pieces of mahogany were stripped and sanded, revealing a beautifully rich reddish-orange wood. The family heirloom was then reconfigured into a functional and original desk in the kitchen. Considering the open-concept floorplan, we chose a classic white-and-grey paint combination for the kitchen cabinetry. To add a hit of timeless contrast, we selected a moonstone marble backsplash in a herringbone pattern.

Colour’s transformative power

Knowing that blue and orange are complementary colours, it is no surprise that the hints of blue found in the backsplash, as well as the undertones in the dark grey colour of the island, are the perfect pairing for our custom mahogany piano desk. The vibrant runners are an excellent way to add colour and pattern to the neutral backdrop of the walls and cabinetry. By simply changing the runners, some accessories, and the artwork, the colour story of this space was completely transformed, without another major renovation.

If you are like me, and constantly thinking about your next design project, take the time to consider the colour story of your home, because great spaces are carefully and selectively curated to present a cohesive story from the foyer to the back door, and everything in between. Now for your homework – because I have to give you the full high school experience – do a little colour soul searching; discover what colours empower you, energize you, console you, and then create your new space with unapologetic conviction.

Sources:

KITCHEN CABINETRY PAINT: Chantilly Lace OC-65, Midnight 2131-20 Benjamin Moore KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS: Noble Grey from Caesarstone KITCHEN BACKSPLASH: Moonstone Herringbone from Creekside Tile KITCHEN CABINETS: Merlo Woodworking WOOD FLOORING: Bistro Collection, Maple French Roast, Fuzion Flooring

Natalie Venalainen is a Senior Designer at Men at Work Design-Build.

She has 10 years of industry experience and has won several awards including the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s top 30 under 30 design professionals across North America in 2018.


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At Home With Men At Work: Windows & Doors

The Great Outdoors: The doors and windows that enhance views and extend your living space

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The Great Outdoors: The doors and windows that enhance views and extend your living space

Summer is finally here (hurray!), which means you’ll want to enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible over the next few months. Maximizing those backyard views is a growing renovation trend that we’re seeing everywhere. Seamless transitions not only create an inviting atmosphere that encourages you to spend more time outdoors, but it makes your indoor living space that much better, while adding substantial value to your property.

Homeowners today can choose from many styles of windows and doors designed to erase the line between the interior and exterior of the home. That’s why, when planning for your next home renovation, it’s important to consider which features will maximize the view of your home’s scenery.

Photography by Lisa Petrole
Photography by Lisa Petrole

Large patio doors

Patio doors foster a smooth indoor-outdoor transition. They will not only provide you with gorgeous year-round views of your backyard, but they’ll invite ample natural light and cool breezes into your home as well. In addition to looking great, they make outdoor entertaining much more manageable and enjoyable because they provide quick and seamless access to your backyard, patio or balcony.

Photography by Valerie Wilcox
Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Bi-fold-glass walls

Similar to the patio doors, bi-fold glass walls make for even more seamless and spectacular views. Often designed to smoothly stack and fold against side walls, they create huge openings from corner to corner in a room. Modern technology allows these folding glass walls to be completely weather-resistant and energy-efficient, and swing doors can be added to allow everyday access during the cooler months, making them that much more practical.

One thing to take into account, however, is that bi-fold glass walls can take up quite a bit of space on the floor/deck (depending how large the wall is) when in the open position. Folding door units are designed to be stacked perpendicular to the opening. The amount of space that the folding doors will take away from the opening is dependent on the number of panels, panel width, height and thickness.

Photography by Lisa Petrole
Photography by Lisa Petrole

Skylight windows

Amazing designs can be achieved with skylights. Their orientation not only invites natural light to pour into even the smallest, darkest rooms, but they allow you to quite literally look up and see the sky from indoors. While some skylights are purely meant to let in natural light, others open up like windows to act as natural ventilation systems in stuffy rooms. Whether your skylight opens up or not, it is bound to increase your property value and help blur that line between indoors and outdoors.

Photography by Lisa Petrole
Photography by Lisa Petrole

Windows in varying shapes & sizes

Windows may seem obvious here, but what’s important to take away is that introducing various sizes, shapes and orientations will add detail to your home’s interior and exterior. Bay, bow and corner windows are great in dining rooms, kitchen nooks and seating areas; while picture windows work well in rooms that get lots of natural light and/or are adjacent to a scenic outdoor space, such as your backyard. When it comes to deciding on window placement, one of the most important things is to make sure that the view is not being obstructed by large trees or your neighbour’s home.

Balconies

From a construction standpoint, this feature is a bit more of an undertaking than the others; however, second and third floor balconies are great additions that hold their value for a long time. Plus, with such a wide variety of balustrade and railing options, you can add character and update the style to your home altogether by adding even one balcony. In addition to giving your home’s facade a mini-facelift, balconies allow you to enjoy a new, elevated view of your home’s scenery.

The seamless transition trend isn’t just about bringing the indoors out, but rather establishing a flow between a home’s interior and exterior. Choosing features that work well with your space will help to blur those lines and, ultimately, bring about a proud feeling of connectedness with outdoors – no matter the time of year.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Big living in small spaces

Big living in small spaces

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Big living in small spaces

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Living in Toronto holds its fair share of perks; however, the luxury of space is by no means one of them. If you’ve ever been in the market to buy a house in the city, you’ll understand just how valuable real estate here can be. With the average Toronto house running just shy of 1,950 sq. ft., we’re seeing more and more homeowners hold onto their valuable lots who opt to renovate or remodel to create more functional living space and storage, rather than fleeing the city for larger properties.

As a seasoned, Toronto-based design build company, we are constantly on the hunt for innovative and clever solutions to help us utilize every last square inch of living space in our clients’ homes. Whether it be toying around with the reconfiguration of the existing house, or opting to add on a sizeable addition, improving functional living space for urban homeowners is something we are proud to call ourselves experts in.

Here are some small-space design tips to consider when planning your next home renovation project:

Function first

There is no logical way to design a space until you determine its primary function. Identify spatial needs by determining how you plan to use your home. What people and purpose will it serve? Consider your lifestyle. How often will you entertain, or what type of entertaining do you plan to do? Does your job require a home office area to work from? Identifying your living needs—keeping in mind growing children and any future family additions—will allow you to plan with purpose, something that’s paramount to a successful renovation.

Free up the floor plan

Decades ago, homes were designed and built around the idea that every room had a very specific function. The kitchen— often small and shoved in the back of the house —was for preparing food; the dining room was formal and intended for proper sitting meals; and the living room was for relaxing and entertaining. While a traditional-style floor plan might be nice to have in theory, it’s not as practical or desirable as it once was. Cultural norms and lifestyles have evolved to the point where people prioritize convenient, multi-functional spaces that allow individual activities and social togetherness to coexist.

Open-concept floor plans also eliminate the need for circulation areas between rooms, such as halls, stairs and walkways, which pose as major space hogs in the floor plan. Freeing up this space gives your designer much more square footage to play with when designing your new layout.

Build in storage everywhere

When you choose to undertake a home renovation project, you can begin to really customize the storage and organization options that go into the new design. Start with identifying the storage that you find useful in your current home, and from there, make a list of features that you’d want to incorporate into your new home. Most old-Toronto homes suffer from a lack of usable storage, so the extra effort required to iron out the details of a great storage design plan is worth the time and money.

With a growing family comes growing space and storage needs. Before deciding that the only way to meet those needs is to move, sit down with a designer and weigh out your renovation options first. You might be surprised with the degree of improvement that a simple remodelling job can do for your family.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, including design, production and marketing.


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DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

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DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

by Brendan Charters

Great at the barber, catastrophic at home

Sometime since the dawn of civilization, we became obsessed with curb appeal. Emotional creatures to the core, what started as a basic need, shelter has evolved as an avenue of self-expression. The exterior materials, architectural details, combination and orientation of finishes tell a story to the world about who we are, what we may value and how uptight we might be about the state of our affairs. Like it or not, the face our homes show to the world is a reflection of ourselves. Since the absence of personal time seems to be the norm, and very few people enjoy allocating their time or their hard-earned money toward regular maintenance, we will explore the finishes and colours that provide long-term value for your next exterior renovation project.

Photography: Andrew Snow
Photography: Andrew Snow

NATURE’S FORCE

All good things must come to an end. Rain, wind and sunshine erode mountains into prairies and valleys. Volcanoes are transformed into beaches. Some would argue none of those changes are bad things, but when Mother Nature applies her weathering ways to the face of your homestead, a bleached-out and battered esthetic is almost never a desired outcome. As such, when designing and installing your home’s exterior finishes, work from the following basic principles for lasting success.

1. Natural materials weather best: Fight Mother Nature with Mother Nature!

  • REAL STONE
  • WOOD rot-resistant or heat-treated woods, which are neither painted nor stained
  • BRICK
  • METAL such as zinc and weathering (corten), steel which is naturally self-sealing upon initial rusting.
  • avoid man-made materials with topically applied colouring.
Photography: Will Fournier
Photography: Will Fournier

2. Integrated colouring: These are products with colour that is within or part of the makeup, rather than applied

  • NATURAL STONE
  • BRICK
  • METAL
  • STUCCO with paint infusion (rather than painted after application)
  • EXTRUDED MATERIALS (such as PVC’s)
Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Photography: Valerie Wilcox

3. Factory-applied finishes: Controlled environment with baking process to cure finishes to substrates

  • search out flexible vinyl wraps, paints and stains that can expand and contract with the substrate, as all materials move based on their environmental exposure.
  • Warranty of finish is a massively important piece, as is stability of company manufacturing and honouring it.
  • Composite wood, Cement-fibre siding, aluminum siding all great examples of this.

4. Light to Dark: Dark colours attract sun and heat while light colours show dust and dirt more easily.

  • dark will dry more easily after rains but will oxidize and fade faster and more visibly.
  • light will pick up road wash and garden splash back, muddying the appearance.
  • lighter colours fade less and less quickly.
Photography: Andrew Snow
Photography: Andrew Snow

5. Moisture control: trapping moisture is never a good thing in a home, and it will always impact colours through bubbling, peeling and cracking.

  • design a method of moisture escape
  • understand the wall system as a whole, not just the exterior-applied finish as it works as a system.

When planning your own addition, renovation, or custom home, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. The process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), ARIDO (Interior Designers) and RenoMark, the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals to help guide you to success.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


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