The dream teamPublished on September 30, 2015

  • The spacious kitchen is by Louis Líartisan

  • The basement bar offers up beer on tap

  • The basement bar offers up beer on tap

  • The entry hall sets the tone for the preserved character of the home

  • Fixtures for the powder room from Preston Hardware

  • The master bathtub was found under a stairway pre-renovation and salvaged

  • Original staircase with repairs and modifications

  • Original stained glass windows

It is always exciting to see the beautiful results of a successful renovation. And the transformation of a century-old house in the Glebe is no exception. But it takes a team of dedicated professionals working closely with the homeowners to fulfil everyone's dreams and expectations.

The project involved 10 months of major construction work to add a two-storey addition to the back of the home, to open and expand the space for family living. A rooftop deck was added to the existing third-storey master suite, along with new bedrooms and bathrooms, an open-concept kitchen and family room, plus all the latest energy-efficient features and technology to combine traditional character with today's living needs. 


Years before, the homeowners had used the expertise of Robertson Martin Architects to improve the awkward layout of the older home and went back to them to plan this large-scale renovation. 

"It really helps to have a previous relationship with the client and know they trust us with their personal spaces," says Robert Martin, principal architect at RMA, a firm that's known for respecting the character of older buildings and historic neighbourhoods. He adds, "There was a lot of communication between our design team and the family. Actually, one of the sons is an aspiring architect and sat in on some of the meetings."

Robert explains that with three highly active boys, the family wanted a more functional home that provided independent gathering spaces for both the parents and kids to entertain friends and a large extended family. The existing structure was dark and constrained with issues that limited sight lines and flow. Initially, some areas were problematic to the point that the family considered moving, but they found solutions with thorough examination and planning. 

"We used a combination of hand-sketching and three-dimensional modelling to give the homeowners a better visualization of what changes we could do and discuss the options. It gives a higher level of reassurance and less risk of disappointment in the final outcome."

The same level of collaboration, communication and trust is needed when dealing with the general contractor to put the design into effect. Again there was an established working relationship between the architect and contractor, Crossford Construction. Not only was it another good collaborative fit between client, architect and contractor, but Crossford also provided the expert craftsmanship that the project demanded.


With construction underway, there was some tweaking of the design, which is typical in older homes where there can be unwelcome surprises in walls and floors. But whenever a site issue occurred, there was immediate contact between all parties, which allowed time for planning thoughtful solutions, rather than reacting to a crisis-management style of decision making.

"It was a significant restructuring and renovation with a combination of retaining architectural features and details of the home, while incorporating new elements and modern comforts," says Crossford's president Lindsay Nicol. 

"We took a lot of effort to restore and reuse some of the original materials and pieces of the house, such as the fireplace mantel, stained glass windows, light fixtures and hardware."

Describing the renovation process as being very different from a cookie-cutter home design and build, Lindsay emphasizes the importance of teamwork as the project evolves. "We specialize in older home renovations, so we understand that unexpected changes to the design can affect the budget plan. It's our job to assess cost/benefit scenarios and keep the client informed on an ongoing basis."

When renovations include re-engineering the home to install the latest heating, electrical and plumbing facilities with extra insulation and energy-efficient features, it's not possible for the owners to stay in the home. But the family were thrilled to move back into a big new kitchen with cabinetry by Louis L'artisan, two additional bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as a mud room area, second-level laundry room and the walk-out patio off the master suite, complete with a hot tub.

In the basement, the parents get to party in a stylish bar area with a feature wall and wine cellar, while the kids are entertained in the high-tech home theatre. A coffered ceiling was constructed along with moulding and trim detailing to retain the home's traditional character. For the finishing touches, the team included the work of Lorie Derraugh, a home-styling consultant who helped with the interior details and décor selections.

In the end, the dream team delivered on all its promises and the owners enjoy the best of both worlds - old and new! 

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