House Caroline: A Contemporary A-Frame Addition in Toronto

Nestled in the Leslieville neighborhood of Toronto, Canada, House Caroline (great name!) is a modern A-framed addition to a Victorian home from the 1850s. The project, designed by Reign Architects, marries historical charm with modern functionality. Once a partitioned and dimly lit residence, it now serves as an open, light-filled, and welcoming haven for a young family.

The design started with the client’s desire to transform their home into a space that reflects their daily needs. Central to this vision was the addition of a third-floor primary suite, inspired by the client’s love of a maple tree in the backyard. This natural element became a focal point in the design, influencing the architects to create a harmonious blend of indoor and outdoor spaces.

A modern kitchen features light wood cabinetry, a white island with a countertop, hanging pendant lights, a black stool, and minimalistic decor.

Faced with the challenge of preserving the home’s Victorian charm while overcoming spatial obstacles and limited natural light, Reign Architects employed a series of innovative solutions.

A person and a child sit on the floor in a bright, modern living room with light wood furniture and a large window showing a garden outside. An open staircase is on the left side of the room.

The heart of the home, where the kitchen meets the living room, showcases white oak cabinets that merge with the media unit. This integration provides ample storage and places to showcase beloved objects, turning the entertainment unit into a multifunctional piece that goes beyond storage, with additional seating and a cozy spot by the fireplace.

A modern living room with a cozy bench, a wood-burning stove, shelves with books and decor, and a wall-mounted TV. Large windows reveal a tree-filled outdoors. Wood logs are stored below the stove.

Two children in a contemporary kitchen, one standing on a bench near a window with stained glass and the other wearing overalls near a kitchen island. An adult's hand is partially visible near a door.

A modern dining area features a wooden table with four chairs, a cushioned bench, a large abstract painting, a sculptural ceiling light, and a window with colorful stained-glass details.

Custom millwork plays a crucial role on the ground floor, where the dining room features a curved banquette that fits into an existing bay window. This design not only maintains the historical integrity of the space but also ensures a smooth flow from the front entry through to the rest of the house, while comfortably seating eight people.

A person sits at a wooden dining table with two children on a bench in a modern, minimalist dining room. A large painting of a reclining figure hangs on the wall behind them.

A minimalist indoor staircase with light wood steps and white railings, featuring clean lines and modern design elements.

To address the home’s narrow width and shallow depth, the architects designed a double winder stair with stacked guard rails. This design efficiently utilizes space, making room for a much-needed marble kitchen island and functionality spread throughout all three levels of the residence. The stairwell, with its open design, channels natural light from a strategically placed skylight, creating a bright and airy atmosphere throughout the home.

A modern staircase with wooden steps and white vertical rails, viewed from below. Two legs in white pants are visible through the railing.

A child stands on a chair and another by a crib in a bright room with three tall windows, a wooden rocking horse, a large green plant, a beige rug, and a wicker ceiling light fixture.

With the residence’s north-facing orientation, the architects maximized natural light by leveraging southern exposure from above and western light from the rear facade. On the ground level, a floor-to-ceiling window creates a seamless connection between the indoors and the outdoors, offering uninterrupted views of the maple tree and enhancing the flow of light.

A child sits on a black chair reading a book in a bright room with a large window. A wooden cabinet, a pouf, a plant, and stuffed animals are in the room.

A person in a red shirt runs up a white staircase inside a modern building with a wooden beam and a skylight above.

The A-framed timber roof and exposed Douglas Fir beams frame a skylight that captures optimal sunlight throughout the day, creating a serene environment. The top floor especially benefits from the skylight as the narrow width requires an extremely pitched roof requiring the only windows to be placed at the front and back of the space.

Modern bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower, wall-mounted toilet, and a sleek vanity. The shower features gray stone tiles, a built-in niche, and a rain showerhead. Two black candles stand on the vanity.

Modern bathroom with a white freestanding bathtub, geometric walls, a large window, and natural light streaming in. The tub's edge holds a bottle and a sponge.

A modern bathroom featuring a double-sink vanity with light wood cabinets, large mirror, and a geometric window. The staircase and wooden beams are visible in the background.

A person walks down a hallway with wooden beams overhead. The foreground features a modern bathroom with a large mirror, round lights, and a wall-mounted sink.

The primary closet doubles as the pathway between the bedroom and the bathroom on either end of the house.

A modern, minimalist walk-in closet with open shelving, a yellow ottoman, and slanted wooden ceiling beams. Natural light enters through skylights, illuminating the space.

A bedroom with a vaulted ceiling features wooden beams, a circular window, sliding glass doors, a chest of drawers, a bed, and a balcony with an outdoor chair.

A modern, triangular wooden house with a circular window and two smaller square windows. A metal chimney is visible on the left side. Tree branches frame the image against a clear blue sky.

A modern home with a metal chimney is surrounded by trees with orange autumn foliage under a clear blue sky. The house features a small round window and a sloped metal roof.

A three-story modern house with a dark exterior and large windows, illuminated at dusk. The bottom floor features sliding glass doors leading to a well-lit interior with visible stairs.

A two-story brick townhouse with a peaked roof and front steps, flanked by similar attached homes. Trees with autumn foliage are visible around the property.

Photography by Riley Snelling, courtesy of v2com.

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