December 18, 2020

Abe Chan Pairs New York City Loft Sensibilities with Victorian Architecture in Toronto Home

White subway tiles form the backsplash in the light blue kitchen. Photography by Scott Norsworthy.

In the heart of Toronto’s historic Forest Hill neighborhood, original Victorian homes and contemporary new builds coexist along the residential streets. For a family of New York City transplants, local design firm AC-DO’s founder Abraham Chan captured the DNA of their former Greenwich village loft in a Forest Hill home with a preserved Tudor façade. With three young daughters, Chan created a home for the family to grow into with a design philosophy he categorizes as: “business in the front, party in the back.”

The carpet adds a whimsical pattern to the layers of neutral hues in the living room. Photography by Scott Norsworthy.

The original floorplan of the house featured rooms upon rooms ultimately creating a cramped, mazelike environment. By demolishing a pantry wall, Chan opened up the first floor, dedicating the front area to entertaining and hosting guests with an open family room anchored by a breakfast nook in the back. Though Chan and his clients gravitated towards more contemporary furnishings and design accents throughout, he wanted to respect the original architecture of the house by leaving the crown molding intact in several rooms and hallways for character.

A custom Moss & Lam hand-painted wallpaper in the main bedroom spans the entirety of the wall, giving an illusion of an extended headboard. Photography by Scott Norsworthy.

“We put in lighting only where there is a purpose for it,” Chan explains, noting the home features barely visible recess lights with a hidden trim tap as well as sculptural, statement-making pieces that are part of the clients’ existing collection. In the main bedroom, for example, hanging alabaster lamps shaped to look like flower petals are framed by a nearby window, adding to the suite’s nature-inspired textures and patterns while providing a contrast to the fixtures in the rest of the house.

The sculpture on the back wall was part of the facade in the family’s New York City apartment. Photography by Scott Norsworthy.

With a home-theater, gym, and office, each zone in the house is designed to encourage communication, from the kitchen with views into the TV room and backyard, to the configuration of seating in the study and living room. For the New York family of five, there’s no shortage of space—or style—in their new home.  

Chan used a marble-clad limestone in the spa-inspired main bedroom ensuite. Photography by Scott Norsworthy.
The wood floor in the dining room features patterns similar to those in the clients’ former New York City home.
An HVAC system has been installed in the basement media room for optimal safety and cleanliness. Photography by Scott Norsworthy.

Recent Projects