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How to Change Your Traditional Toronto House to a Modern Home

Simplicity is Sovereign

The hallmark of a modern home is that it represents elevated simplicity. This means blending luxurious practicality within clean architectural lines. Although this is a great starting point, it’s helpful to have a few specific rules of thumb to follow. Today we’ll talk about high-value areas that can transform your Toronto home into a modern masterpiece. 

Change the Silhouette

Imagine yourself as a guest visiting your home. One of the first things you’ll notice, even if only subconsciously, is the silhouette the home carves out against the sky. Traditional roofs are pitched and have ornate details like gables, eaves, fascia, soffits, gutters, etc. The number of angles and materials can distract from a modern appearance, which values straight, simple, and non-ornate lines. The most effective way to alter your home’s silhouette is to modernize the roofline. 

Be aware that modernizing the roofline sometimes requires modifications to your home’s layout and structure, which may not be approved for your home. Be sure to consult with your architect and builder to review all of your options. 

Install a Contemporary Door

This one is an easy fix. Like your roofline, your front door makes a statement about your house. Traditional doors tend to be more ornate. They may include raised wood panels, decorative curves, and trimmed glass panes. Modern doors, on the other hand, are generally low profile and solid; oftentimes they are metal or wood, and if the glass is included, it is generally almost flush with the framing. Another difference between traditional and modern doors is the handle, so be sure to research your hardware options as you select your door.

Change the Layout

We said above that changing your home’s roofline may mandate changing your home’s overall structure, and while that’s a serious undertaking, it can also give you a serious payoff. In highlighting the differences between modern and traditional layouts, YR Architecture Design explains that traditional homes tend to have sprawling and sometimes illogical layouts that add complexity without adding value. Modern home layouts are more straightforward. The blueprint is square, simple, and practical.

High Ceilings 

If you are going to alter your home’s roofline and layout, you may also want to consider raising your ceilings. High ceilings aren’t essential, but they do play into the modern feel of understated elegance and visually open spaces. Homes with high ceilings often do a better job of capitalizing on natural light sources and allowing a space to feel breathable. Unfortunately, raising floor plates in order to add ceiling height in Toronto's old double brick homes is difficult and costly. In this case, building a modern style addition with high ceilings in the back of the house can help open up the space and modernize the whole home. 

Choose Large, Low-Profile Modern Windows

Of course, the amount and type of exposure your home has to outdoor lighting also plays a key role in creating an open space. Modern windows are often large and rectangular or at least angular. They are single panes without screens or decorative trim. Metal and wood framing is usually preferable to vinyl framing when aiming for a modern look.  

modern home renovations with big windows

Customize Your Storage with Built-Ins

Again, to achieve perfect simplicity, you need perfectly designed storage. Because everyone has different storage needs, custom built-ins are a great choice. For a modern look, built-ins are generally sleek and don’t include ornate detailing like trim, raised or recessed panels, or eye-catching door and drawer pulls. Instead, they appear almost like a wall, allowing the eye to easily travel across them, creating long views and enabling you to organize your belongings and keep them out of sight. 

Showcase Natural Materials and Neutral Palettes

Modern homes are not uniform - while they are simple, they are highly creative. One of the ways in which this creativity shows is through the thoughtful combinations of materials both on a home’s exterior and interior, be the metal and glass, wood and marble, or limestone and brick. To keep this mixed effect visually restful, however, the predominant palette of a modern home is neutral. Stark white serves as an excellent backdrop to honey-toned hardwood floors, black and grey metals, and rich timber panels. Where colour is used, it is used consciously, drawing your eye with decision and purpose.

Unique Framing

Modern design prizes geometric shapes. This typically means that the shape of rooms, rooflines, cabinetry, and furniture is simple and angular, but geometric shapes can also be used to create frames that draw your eye in surprising ways to unique home features. For example, in our award-winning Leaside Custom Home, the vaulted 11-foot ceilings allowed us to install coffered mahogany framing on the ceiling itself as an echo of the windows, which we again picked up with detailing on the stairwells. All of these frames are subtle and are not ornate, yet they add poignancy and interest to the overall home. 

It's important to repeat that there may be zoning issues with modern home renovations on old homes in Toronto. It's best to speak with a highly qualified builder before you get too far along in the framing design. See the clip below for some quick advice from Toronto modern home builder, Tom Cumming


Thoughtful Showcasing

So far, we’ve talked about the elements of modern design that create simple, low-profile, and understated balance. But modern design is also fun. It’s playful, and it’s creative. Examples of this may be found in our Playter Estates home renovation, which makes the most of dynamic pops of colour and creative patterning. 

A good rule of thumb for your modern home renovation is: make it thoughtful. Every space, every material, every line, and every colour should have a clear purpose that contributes to the overall aesthetic of your home.


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