By Lisa van de Geyn
Photography by Vincent Lions
THERE’S SOMETHING TO BE SAID FOR AGING GRACEFULLY, AND THERE’S MUCH TO BE SAID FOR AGING IN PLACE.
That’s what the couple who own this unique condo in Rosedale were keen to do when they bought their penthouse. One of the homeowners had sustained an injury and the pair had to sell their three-storey walk-up in the city. They were delighted when they found this century-old building with the renovated top floor and decided it would be the place where they’d settle. “The condo needed some tender loving care. It was outdated and didn’t reflect my clients’ personalities,” says Christina Fox, the designer from Binns Kitchen & Bath Design who brought this spectacular redesign to life. “They really needed to create an accessible space. They’re empty-nesters and they plan to age in place as they live here. The one thing I told them was that getting older didn’t mean they had to sacrifice style or sex appeal,” she says.
She’s right. Aging in place can look and feel sexy, and Fox was determined to ensure the kitchen and bathroom exuded personality, confidence, sexiness and accessibility.
The kitchen, of course, is a case in point. The couple indicated that they were looking for much more storage than the existing kitchen offered. “There was a lot of underperforming real estate in the kitchen, and I really wanted to maximize the potential,” says Fox. “Before, there weren’t a lot of cabinets, and these homeowners are avid cooks and bakers who needed space for their appliances.” Fox was quick to plan for plenty of accessible and functional storage, as well as lots of drawers and pullouts, which she says are perfect for those who are aging in place.
“Initially, the space was slightly off-white and had a blue glass backsplash. It had a very institutional feel that was not reflective of my clients’ personalities,” she explains. “I knew I wanted to keep it in a monochromatic style and move away from white because the condo has a wall of windows and it’s already very bright.” That was the impetus for selecting moody onyx oak laminate cabinetry. “I really wanted to delineate the space from the rest of the open-concept condo and have this incredible colour story.”
The couple are big entertainers — for their grandchildren. So many of Fox’s decisions took the kids into consideration. “For example, they love to bake with the kids, and we know how messy children can be when it comes to baking, so I made a dedicated baking station with full electrical and a quartz backsplash with a pocket door system that slides away secretly into the cabinetry,” she says.
The stunning quartz countertop, with its brilliant gold veining, wasn’t Fox’s original pick, but she says she gasped when she saw it and knew it would make the perfect piece to tie the kitchen and bathroom stories together. “I was planning another countertop, but it was too busy and starting to compete. I wanted a sophisticated subtlety here,” she says.
She also wanted to bring that sophistication into the couple’s bathroom. The only request the homeowners had for Fox was for a more comfortable tub — they prefer the shower themselves, but their grandchildren love splashing around in their grandparents’ tub. The bathroom is not only a masterclass in accessibility and aging in place, but it also brings in exquisite details, like the bronzed-glass partition with a matte black detail that stands in front of the tub, and the vessel sinks — sculptural art elements that inspired the rest of the room. Fox took inspiration from the matte black and found functional grab bars for the shower area, as well as matte black valve controls and equipment. “Colour-blocking is so important when aging in place, as when the eyes degenerate, you have a visually contrasting element, so you know where things are,” she says. Fox opted to put in a wet room instead of a smaller shower and selected four different porcelain tiles to showcase in the bathroom. “Designing is an intuitive process for me, so I knew the tiles I chose would be the right ones. The tiles on the shower floor have more texture to them for the clients as they age and the one used behind the vanities, for example, pulls the eye up and gives a moment of pause,” she says. “My clients are avid travellers and they really wanted their bathroom to feel like they were staying in a luxury hotel. I think that was achieved.”
The homeowners were equally thrilled with Fox’s work in both the kitchen and bathroom, and Fox says she was ecstatic to give the pair a space that better fit their personalities where they could age gracefully. “There’s a subtle softness to the space, and I can really see the two of them through the design.”