Renovation Status Quo

The challenge: Update this century-old spatial home to make it look exactly like its former self — only better. Dave Jurinic and team knew just what to do.

By Lisa van de Geyn

It isn’t often that a general contractor and design firm is asked to gut a home, just to rebuild it to look almost the exact same way. That was the situation Dave Jurinic found himself in when his company, Toronto Custom Concepts, was hired to do a large-scale, two-floor renovation at a 100-year-old Toronto home. “It was the first time I’ve ever been asked to make the remodel look like the existing home—it was pretty cool. Most people want new and modern—the typical bright white or black trim, doors, etc.,” says Jurinic. “This home was done almost entirely in oak—oak trim, wainscotting, doors. We actually gutted it just to replicate it.”

The homeowners, a couple with two daughters, had a vision in mind—their inspiration came from the 20 years spent in their traditional 2,400-square-foot house that was full of elm, hickory and oak. “They liked the vintage style of the place, but had a few must-haves on their list. They wanted a new kitchen and asked us to relocate the powder room. We moved walls, and gave them a new fireplace, windows and flooring,” Jurinic says. “Picture an old, stereotypical Toronto home full of oak and hickory. We made it look the same but brand new. ”

The challenge in this job, says Jurinic, was recreating the look and matching the century-old workmanship and craftsmanship. “We worked with stained oak in a similar shade of the existing oak. Compared with painted-white trim, you see the grain in the oak and every cut has to be done once and has to be perfect—the material is expensive.” The architectural influences make the interior feel like a “mix of arts and crafts with modern eclectic touches.”

Some of the big changes included straightening the walls between the foyer and kitchen, putting in heated radiant floors (and got rid of the home’s radiators), adding glass pocket doors separating the dining, living and sitting rooms and replacing the yellow brick fireplace (and adding millwork overtop to make room for the TV). The kitchen ended up being one of the only modern rooms—they painted it in Benjamin Moore’s Down Pour Blue (a light royal blue), which was a departure from the brown oak hues throughout the rest of the space. “There’s a feature wall in the kitchen that’s done with expensive mosaic white-and-blue tile. It was very difficult to install,” says Jurinic. “That’s my favourite part of the project—I’m drawn to the work that it took to get to the finished product. There’s extra beauty in that effort.”

The couple were also blown away by how the project came together. “They were impressed by the workmanship used to make it look the same even though there were so many major changes,” he says. “It’s an old style, and most people aren’t doing it, but doing a rebuild to match a home built a century ago was definitely an experience.”

Photography by Arnal Photography