The Annex Coach House: Vintage-Infused Modern

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Last updated: April 10, 2023

No story can begin without the back story. Before the Annex Coach House,  the original home located on 193R Brunswick Avenue in Toronto, was not a laneway house because there is no lane behind it.  It was also not an old coach house. 

The property, where present Annex Coach House is, used to be part of Moore’s Hearse Livery and was used as a vehicle depot.  In 1983, the Moore family sold the property.  It would be converted for residential use by architects George Boake and James Crang.  The only thing that remains from the livery is the brick walls in the courtyards. 

Table of Contents

  1. Crang and Boake Architects
  2. When Zoe’s Friend Twisted Her Arm
  3. The Annex Neighborhood
  4. The New Annex Coach House
    1. Materials Used in the Build
    2. Walled-in Courtyards Flank the Den
    3. Second Floor Styling Decor
  5. Project Details
  6. Taylor Smyth Architects
  7. In Summary
  8. The Image Gallery

Crang and Boake Architects

Their home design project work would focus on mid-century modern features, appealing more to 1950’s suburban bungalows, with modern, minimalist exteriors. James Crang and George Boake were both University of Toronto graduates. Together, they formed Crang and Boake in 1952, focusing on commercial, light-industrial buildings and affordable residential. 

The firm would become one of Canada’s largest architectural firms spanning two decades from the 70s through the 90s.   They would have several notable projects in Toronto during this time from apartment buildings to offices for British-American Oil, Columbia Records of Canada, Gestetner Canada, Burndy Canada, the Canada Trust Tower, and the Metro Toronto Convention Center.  

In 1956, Goerge Boake would develop his family home in a wealthy part of Toronto called Rosedale.  Located on 87 Roxborough Drive, the home remains an early example of mid-century modernism.  It is one of the few Toronto homes directly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The company has expanded its mandate to facilitate high-quality design to North American standards across international offices.  It has expanded its project portfolio to include small power projects, green energy, and low carbon research.  More information can be found on their website

When Zoe’s Friend Twisted Her Arm

In September 2005, Zoe Margolis and Julian Piper were hunting for homes and did not consider single detached homes as an option.  Instead, they were thinking condominiums until a friend twisted Zoe’s arm.  Zoe fell in love with the home and they purchased the home in October 2005 for $1,050,000 CDN (down from listed $1,150,000) after it was listed for nine days.  It was equipped with 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 parking spaces over 3000-3500 square feet.

The couple did make changes.  They stained for dark floors (hardwood), tweaked a massive bathroom, converted a smaller third bedroom into a dressing room, and modified the flat roof.  They also installed new heating/cooling systems and converted one of two wood-burning fireplaces to gas.  Lastly, they completely renovated the kitchen.  Older photos can be seen here.

The house did have one prior listing in April 2003.  It listed for $985,000 CDN and sold for $990,000 CDN in six days.  It was equipped with 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 parking spaces over 3000-3500 square feet.

In October 2016, Zoe and Julian would list the home for $2,395,000 CDN (Property taxes: $9830.14 CDN), and sell it within five days for $2,300,000 CDN.  The home did undergo a small change during its ownership with the addition of another bathroom.   The lot size, due to its irregular shape comes in dimensions of 53.83 feet by 10.82 feet by 134.08 feet.

It appears Zoe did get her to wish as the couple purchased a condo property in Aventura, Florida.

The Annex Neighborhood

The Annex house is located near the intersection of Spadina Avenue and Harbord Street.  The neighborhood has changed over decades but nearby areas include the hip Kensington Market, Seaton Village, Palmerston, and the Annex.  The home is within walking distance of transit systems, dog parks and other green spaces, caffeine, and diverse food options from Korean to other choices.

The New Annex Coach House

In 2021,  the new owners commit to changes as the entire house undergoes another major rework. Two new firms are involved.   Talyor Smith Architects and William Fulghum Design Associates. 

The firm duo gutted the entire two-story structure to its bare studs or the key structural elements.

Materials Used in the Build

The 193R Brunswick avenue residence gained enhancements to key elements that expose a light-filled contemporary interior.  Materials used in the rebuild of the entire house include a palette of wood, stone, bronze, and leather.

The entire house benefits from new furniture which complements the design across all new spaces.  The ground floor enjoys distinctive walls and ceiling list fixtures accent the entire house.  We love the mix of vintage 1960s and modern lighting ideas and the window openings which offer plentiful views.

The entrance and hallway have been modified with built-in millwork.  This combines lacquered wood, wood veneer fiber, walnut and includes custom closet doors with bronzed leather trim. The den features a linear gas fireplace with inset into a dramatic wall of dark-veined stone with bronze trims.

Walled-in Courtyards Flank the Den

A pair of walled-in courtyards show an ivy-clad landscape that flanks the den.  There is an extensive rooftop terrace too.  Some might feel they have the entire cottage to themselves!

The living and dining rooms are unified by a single ceiling, which shines with soft, indirect lighting throughout the perimeter.  Two skylights help flood the entire modern space with natural light. The living room is graced by a stone and walnut-clad fireplace to keep family and guests warm during the winter months.

A single ceiling plane unifies the living and dining room, appearing to float away from the walls with the incorporation of soft indirect lighting around its perimeter, and is pierced by two skylights that flood the space with light. The living room features a stone and walnut-clad fireplace.

Second Floor Styling Decor

When we enter the second floor, we find a stairway supported by a skylight.  As we move up the stairs to another partial level, you enter a large private landscaped terrace over the living/dining area and den.  On the terrace, we find a series of raised planters and defined decks for seating and entertainment.  

The wall of the second floor is hidden by a custom wood screen with random vertical slats which provide light and shade.

The second floor is well suited for any homeowner, let alone the entire house.  This floor features a master bedroom, ensuite bathroom, walk-in closet (we can always use more room for our fashionable clothes), and yes, a second bedroom and bathroom.  Royalty does have its advantages. 

Annex Coach House: The master bathroom is illuminated through a screen of alternating back-painted and acid-etched glass with diffuse natural light from the skylight at the stair. Inside, statuario marble and charcoal colored porcelain tile create a dramatic contrast of light and dark.
The master bathroom is illuminated through a screen of alternating back-painted and acid-etched glass with diffuse natural light from the skylight at the stair. Inside, statuario marble and charcoal colored porcelain tile create a dramatic contrast of light and dark.

There is a screen of alternating back-painted and acid-etched glass that illuminates the master bathroom. Inside the bathroom, the stark contrast of light and dark is created by statuario marble and charcoal-colored porcelain tile.

Project Details

PROJECT TEAMTaylor Smyth Architects in collaboration with William Fulghum Design Associates
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTSHolbrook + Associates Landscape Architects
PROPERTY SIZE3200 Square Feet
PHOTOSDoublespace Photography

Taylor Smyth Architects

Taylor Smyth Architects has been creating elegant architecture and interiors in Canada and abroad since 2000. Taylor Smyth Architects is a Canadian practice dedicated to the creation of structures of exceptional quality. 

Projects have been driven by the unique tastes and aspirations of its clients, the location, with a strong focus on authentic materials and expression.  They have strong long-term relationships with clients, contractors, suppliers, and colleagues.  

With this particular residence and project, they required exceptional attention to detail, considering they gutted the home to its bare studs.

They are inspired by fundamental criteria to which they believe all people respond: light, texture and color, natural materials and proportions, a sense of openness and the sheltered enclosure, access to views, and a connection to the outdoors. Combining these sensitivities with quality materials and fine craftsmanship, they aspire to create refined private residences, high-quality public buildings, and exceptional redevelopment projects.

Their award-winning firm has expertise in a broad range of project types including residential and interior design, educational, recreational, and workplace facilities, retail environments, and master planning. Their work has received wide recognition through numerous local, national, and international publications and awards.

In Summary

The Annex Coach House is an excellent example of how to create inspired design and living concepts for a vibrant corner of Toronto’s neighborhoods.  Projects like this require vision, collaboration, and astonishing attention to detail to manage timelines and project costs.  

With this latest re-invention, we can begin to imagine what the future resell value for this home and property will be at the next sale.  Toronto has become a bit of a condominium playground, so we appreciate our spies on the ground for their research on residential architecture in Canada’s most populous city!

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