Tour a Sprawling Toronto Home With Historic Pedigree and Modern Touches

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“We liken ourselves to a 19th-century guild,” says Katherine Newman of the Toronto-based firm she cofounded with architect Peter Cebulak in 1991. Because rather than specialize in a single field Katherine Newman Design spans multiple disciplines, from architecture to interior design, construction management, and even landscaping.

This unique bandwidth allows the organization to take on a wide variety of projects, from large scale—they’re currently developing Brooklyn’s tallest building, Brooklyn Tower—to more intimate residences. “We take on only five projects a year, but our body of work is very diverse,” says Newman of her lean and nimble methodology. “We have no stamped aesthetic and hire no junior designers. We see ourselves as editors.”

That’s why an international financier, after purchasing a landmarked 18,000-square foot Georgian Revival–style residence in Rosedale, one of Toronto’s most historic neighborhoods, approached the firm in the first place. As he and his family would be living in London before moving in, they needed someone they could not only implicitly trust, but who also possessed a deeply rooted understanding of how architecture influences design.

Tour a Sprawling Toronto Home With Historic Pedigree and Modern Touches

“The main floor is unique in that there are no hallways or circulation zones,” Newman explains. To that end, furniture and lighting were carefully placed to help create a “visual hallway [that] reinforces the length.”
“The main floor is unique in that there are no hallways or circulation zones,” Newman explains. To that end, furniture and lighting were carefully placed to help create a “visual hallway [that] reinforces the length.”
“This is referred to as the Gallery, as it accommodates the owner’s largest works by Jean McEwen,” Newman says of the great room. “It is appointed with furniture that is mostly sculptural in form, so it can be reconfigured depending on the function: whether it be a cocktail party, a screening, or a fundraiser.”
“This is referred to as the Gallery, as it accommodates the owner’s largest works by Jean McEwen,” Newman says of the great room. “It is appointed with furniture that is mostly sculptural in form, so it can be reconfigured depending on the function: whether it be a cocktail party, a screening, or a fundraiser.”
Elegant restraint is the hallmark of the great room. “The space is intentionally devoid of pattern, so as to not compete with the art,” Newman explains. “There are pockets of visual reprieve, which allow one to move from one detail to another—much like how a gallery functions.”
Elegant restraint is the hallmark of the great room. “The space is intentionally devoid of pattern, so as to not compete with the art,” Newman explains. “There are pockets of visual reprieve, which allow one to move from one detail to another—much like how a gallery functions.”
Newman chose to paint these dining room wall panels a dusty mauve: “It was a color popular at the end of the 19th century.” Another notable addition was the floating wall cabinets, which are historical and modern at once.
Newman chose to paint these dining room wall panels a dusty mauve: “It was a color popular at the end of the 19th century.” Another notable addition was the floating wall cabinets, which are historical and modern at once.
Even the powder room dazzles, with European walnut paneling, a Carlo Nason glass pendant, a faucet with Limoges handles, and a hand-carved floating stone vanity.
Even the powder room dazzles, with European walnut paneling, a Carlo Nason glass pendant, a faucet with Limoges handles, and a hand-carved floating stone vanity.
The family room “is ethereal with windows at three walls, affording remarkable natural light,” Newman comments. Interestingly, the space does not include a television.
The family room “is ethereal with windows at three walls, affording remarkable natural light,” Newman comments. Interestingly, the space does not include a television.
Virginia Macdonald Photographer Inc.
Under the guidance of an art historian, the mahogany panels in the library, which doubles as a home office, were fully stripped and French polished. Though it’s filled with works by blue-chip artists (including Picasso and Matisse), the space maintains a relaxed, laid-back feel.
Under the guidance of an art historian, the mahogany panels in the library, which doubles as a home office, were fully stripped and French polished. Though it’s filled with works by blue-chip artists (including Picasso and Matisse), the space maintains a relaxed, laid-back feel.
The platform bed in the primary bedroom features a Lona Design headboard upholstered in a Fortuny print. The circular rock-crystal-and-bronze pendant is by Christopher Boots; the bedside pendants with custom red cord are by Lindsey Adelman.
The platform bed in the primary bedroom features a Lona Design headboard upholstered in a Fortuny print. The circular rock-crystal-and-bronze pendant is by Christopher Boots; the bedside pendants with custom red cord are by Lindsey Adelman.
The primary bedroom is accented with a work by Canadian artist Jean McEwan, a Pied de Bouc stool by Marc Bankowsky, and a low table custom-designed by Newman. Newman describes the complete look as: “A menagerie of pieces reflecting a dynamic and art-based aesthetic—the rational paired with the whimsical.”
The primary bedroom is accented with a work by Canadian artist Jean McEwan, a Pied de Bouc stool by Marc Bankowsky, and a low table custom-designed by Newman. Newman describes the complete look as: “A menagerie of pieces reflecting a dynamic and art-based aesthetic—the rational paired with the whimsical.”
Virginia Macdonald Photographer Inc.
Symmetry is the focus of the primary bath, seen here at a distance. The vanity, which is framed by pendants from Austria, and the medicine cabinet, are perfectly centered between the shower and water closet. Both the vanity and medicine cabinet were designed in-house by Katherine Newman Design.
Symmetry is the focus of the primary bath, seen here at a distance. The vanity, which is framed by pendants from Austria, and the medicine cabinet, are perfectly centered between the shower and water closet. Both the vanity and medicine cabinet were designed in-house by Katherine Newman Design.
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The goal? To dovetail a timeless aesthetic with dynamic tension: “We wanted to capture prewar elegance and postwar modernity,” Newman says. In addition to sourcing furniture and carefully scaling everything to each room’s individual dimensions, her firm designed custom pieces “inspired by French, Danish, and Italian midcentury designers, with a focus on furniture as art.” The resulting collection was fabricated by artisans from all over the world.

Since a renovation from the 1990s left the structure feeling rather drab—“there were inadequate sources of lighting, and the use of weighty colors (including a dining room painted black), negated the vastness of the space,” Newman explains—her firm ushered in a litany of striking light fixtures and softer hues. These also help complement the homeowner’s ever-growing collection of pieces by Canadian artists (like Jean Paul Riopelle and Marcelle Ferron) and photographers (think Hiroshi Sugimoto and Henri Cartier-Bresson).

Appearances aside, the house ultimately had to fit certain functions. The family has three teenagers, and regularly entertains. That often means hosting fundraisers, luncheons, and dinner parties, during which bottles from their extensive wine collection are served. “The house could be likened to an English manor house,” she says. “It possesses a certain casual elegance and lacks pretense, but is loaded with beautiful things.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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