The houses along Vesta Drive in Toronto, built in the 1950’s, are variations on a theme. Originally crafted as repetitive blocks of foursquare homes, they have been modified over the years to take on distinct personalities. However, the hallmarks of the foursquare style remain: a basically square, boxy design, two-stories high, with a central stair, and four large boxy rooms to a floor, all covered by a hipped roof. A typical design would have common rooms on the first floor, including the living room, dining room, entry and kitchen. The second floor would have four bedrooms, each taking a corner, and a centered bathroom opposite the stair.
Although the shape provides a maximum amount of interior space and uses the city lots efficiently, the houses remain insular and do not take advantage of the rear yard landscape that backs the south side of Vesta Drive. A ravine slope provides a dramatic backdrop that creates both privacy and the feeling that you inhabit a lush landscape even though you are very much in the city.
This home, with its family of 5, was to be converted into an open, modern interior with a new rear addition that showcases the incredible landscape. The front of the home was updated with new windows and entry door and a sapele-clad porch while keeping the expression of the original home intact.
Upon entering, a new white oak stair connects the entry with the landscape on both the first and second floors. The street-facing front rooms on both floors were renovated while the rear rooms including the master bedroom with ensuite and kitchen and family rooms were reconfigured and opened with large windows to the rear. In between, a mud room and powder room were tucked into the centre of the plan, allowing a new side-entry from the driveway as well as taking advantage of space that had little access to natural light.
The new volumetric brick addition has deeply carved overhangs and in-set windows and was designed to provide critical shading on the southern face, while at the same time, providing much more openness to the yard.
The deck was rebuilt to match the level of the kitchen floor, greatly expanding the space for entertaining. Adjacent to the new garage, a paved pool deck was installed, which has the effect of increasing the light and air into the rear yard and making the entire space feel much larger.
While the house still looks like its neighbours, it is dramatically different once you walk through the front door. The space has not only changed, but how the family lives in the space has also changed.