PLAYFUL MEETS PRACTICAL IN THIS WHOLE-HOUSE RENOVATION
Leanne Tammaro and Adolphina Czyrsky understand the power of collaboration when it comes to home design. As the principal interior designers behind Toronto–based firm Design theory, the experienced duo crafts a tailored approach for each project, inspired by the clients themselves. In the case of this whole-house renovation, that meant introducing vibrant, family-friendly updates while paying homage to the home’s history.
“Renovations are always challenging in that there are a lot of unknowns when starting the project—you never know what is behind those old walls and ceilings!” says Tammaro. “We try to do as much discovery prior to starting a renovation so that we can address any potential issues proactively.”
To make the scale of the renovation more manageable, the duo worked in tandem with Stephanie Pellatt of Pivot Design Studio. “With the size of this project and the details required, each designer brought the best of themselves so that we could execute the project as seamlessly as possible,” says Czyrsky.
Located in the High Park neighborhood of Toronto, this turn-of-the-twentieth-century home luckily revealed few unpleasant surprises. Whenever possible, the team retained and restored original architectural elements, like the stained-glass windows and interior doors and hardware. And where restoration was impossible, like the entry foyer, pains were made to choose materials representative of the original build.
For more space and functionality, the team made several architectural adjustments. A large addition was built onto the rear of the house, featuring extensive steel-framed windows that introduce a touch of modernity—and ample natural light. Some rooms, like the original living room, required only minor adjustments. To better use the space, Tammaro and Czyrsky moved the fireplace parallel to the doorway, enabling a more symmetrical and welcoming furniture layout.
Custom pieces and built-ins throughout the home keep the old and new design elements cohesive. “Custom furniture allows us to truly capture the overall vision for each project and set it apart from others, making each client’s home unique and one-of-a-kind,” notes Czyrsky.
In the kitchen, customization by the way of flat-panel cabinets and a modern island offer streamlined storage. “It is one of our signatures to create multifinish kitchens, and this space was no exception. We featured the island in natural walnut and enveloped it in honed Carrara marble.”
Neutral colors in the shared living spaces maximize the open floor plan, lending an almost museum-like quality to the more vibrant furniture and decor. Standout pieces like the avian light fixture in the kitchen and canary-yellow chairs in the family room add a touch of whimsy, while cleverly placed panel molding elevations showcase wall art.
“Our client had an art background and has been collecting beautiful artwork for years,” says Czyrsky. “She wanted to incorporate some pieces into the design and together we determined which pieces would be placed in each room at the onset. Artwork is often overlooked in the preliminary design stages—we feel it is an integral part of our design aesthetic.”
Upstairs, Tammaro and Czyrsky showcased more of the family’s singular style. A custom, gray cashmere bed and Lambert & Fils light fixtures introduce sophistication in the primary bedroom, while the adjoining en suite offers a cozy sort of luxury.
“We knew we wanted to add softness by way of the custom ottoman in the space, so we reconfigured all the existing closet interiors to accommodate the drawer storage that was lost from removing [an] island,” says Tammaro. Fresh paint and decorative ceiling trim draw the eye upward, making the room feel more spacious. In the bathroom, geometric mosaic tiles add textural interest; their floral pattern adds a hint of connection to other prints found in the home.
In the children’s rooms, cheerful prints and splashes of color create spaces that can easily mature alongside their occupants. “Kids spaces are a lot of fun to design,” says Czyrsky. “We never like to go too juvenile, but rather create spaces that connect with the rest of the house and that the kids are able to grow into.”
In fact, thoughtful planning and design ensures that the family’s entire home can grow and adapt with their changing tastes and needs. The careful blend of new and old creates the timeless feel the design team strove to evoke: “effortlessly chic—a mix of old and new, refined and casual.”
Managing such a large team and project could have become complicated, but both Tammaro and Czyrsky mention collaboration as a key to project success. “When we started our own firm, we made a conscious decision to lead in our specialties, which allows us to provide our clients with a truly full-service experience,” says Tammaro.
WRITTEN BY VICTORIA HITTNER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY VALERIE WILCOX