Riverdale reno reinvents modern style from a “wacky layout”

The stockings will be hung near the fireplace with care in festive contrast to the crisp white around the fireplace.

Little Capri Penzo is snug in her crib in her pink and white bedroom with her comfy storytime chair and plenty of room for a queen-size bed when ready.

18-month-old Capri Penzo's pink and white bedroom has a comfy storytime chair and space for a bed when it's time to replace his crib.

And parents Olivia and Luca Penzo are enjoying their master suite on the second floor which is described as a favorite retreat.

Wherever you look in the bright and thoughtfully designed family home in Toronto’s Riverdale neighborhood, it’s clear the couple have achieved their goal of “creating a beautiful, comfortable and safe space where our family can grow”, as Luca describes it. .

And with the requirement that it also function as a large entertainment space, the 2-1 / 2 story home is ready to receive both Saint Nicholas and as many vacationers as they can safely accommodate.

“My wife is an amazing hostess and is very involved in the planning and decorating,” says Luca. “We want this holiday season to be very festive and full of joy for our daughter. ”

The 18-month-old wasn’t even on Santa’s list when the Penzos bought the twin in 2018. But on the first visit, they could imagine the perfect living space for their future family, Luca recalls, adding that their inspiration was New York Sandstone.

With its “wacky arrangement” of two kitchens, two staircases and an unfinished low-ceilinged basement, the century-old house took 10 months to empty and dismantle all the way to the brick walls, then rebuild from the top. ground.

A New York brownstone inspired the Penzos' design of their Riverdale house which they gutted and updated

As a co-founder of Urban Blueprint with his sister Natasha Penzo-McIntosh, Luca was well acquainted with home improvement practices. Toronto’s full-service design and build company specializes in architectural planning, construction project management and interior design.

In addition to having to remove the asbestos casing from the original ductwork, the project “went smoothly,” says Luca, a licensed architectural technologist.

By supporting the basement, they created a fully functional top-to-bottom residence totaling 2,500 square feet, including the finished basement where there is an additional bedroom with adjoining bathroom.

A skylight adds light to the master bedroom bathroom where a freestanding tub and double vanity create a private oasis for owners.

While Luca took care of the space planning and architectural design, he and Olivia collaborated on the interior design, starting with the front vestibule which Luca describes as “a nice and cozy enclosed space with walls. glass and beautiful mosaic tiles ”.

The ground floor is open plan with the living room leading to the dining room which joins the kitchen at the back. As the heart of the home, it is a staple that’s both dramatic and welcoming with onyx and white cabinetry, brass light fixtures, and a large island. The herringbone patterned white oak parquet connects the three rooms together.

The original brick has been displayed and kept as the characteristic dining room wall. "We love the charm and the story it tells," said the owner.

In the dining room, the original masonry has been kept as a characteristic wall for “the charm and the story it tells”, explains Luca. “My framers had chalked lines on the wall during construction as guides and we kept them there.”

While most areas are dressed in shades of white, the palette changes in the tiled dressing room – an “area” created with the black lab, Ace, in mind – which includes custom woodwork and green built-in elements. hunter.

Hunter green was chosen for the custom built-in elements in the locker room designed for a toddler and the family's black lab, Ace.

Downstairs, the powder room is whimsically decorated with colorful wallpaper depicting monkeys and pomegranates (“Frutto Proibito” by Fornasetti for Cole and Son).

Wallpaper with monkeys and pomegranates adds whimsy to the powder room, located at the bottom of the basement stairs for guest privacy.

“Everyone comments on it. They love it, ”says Luca. With hues of red and dark green, it’s also vacation-ready.

THEN: The original fireplace and fireplace in the living room have been rebuilt to run on gas or to be converted back to wood heating.


Area: 1750 square feet + 750 square feet. finished basement

Bedrooms: 3 + 1

Bathrooms 3.5


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