Building modern homes
A Northern California couple desired to move in one of Elcher’s modern homes but they were patient, in order to get into the right one.
They even stayed at a friend’s house for a couple of months, until the short sale was made. After moving in it, they took another few more years to find out what the house wanted to be and what they wanted from it.
Due to its feel of a little town in a big city in Toronto’s Woodbine neighborhood, architect Sabrina Esser and Wolfram, a chemical engineer and her husband, purchased a 1920s bungalow that needed some work but had a good structure. After a couple of years of living in it, they began to discuss the problem of making more space, in case their first child would be born. Putting some dormers into the bungalow’s narrow attic space was Sabrina’s first thought but, there was no possibility of running the heating system into the attic without it creating some big issues on the principal floor. Even more, a new roof was needed because there was no space for insulation in the ceiling. By this time, because the list of problems that existed in their house grew more and more, the Esser family thought about selling the place and moving on but, in the end, they launched a big renovation process, and after one year, they transformed the bungalow into one of the most energy-efficient, modern homes, which perfectly match their lifestyle.
Even if Sabrina’s first intention was to leave the exterior exposed, eventually she decided to clad the existing brick exterior with a rain screen system that was custom made. This gave her the opportunity to reach high insulation standards without having to give up precious living interior space. Due to their durability in the wide-ranging Canadian weather, she went for the cedar siding and cement fiber panels.
The house (past the front foyer) opens into a primary living area that resembles a loft. What allows the family members to have their own space but also be connected with each other, are the partially screened from one another different areas. Separating the living room from the kitchen is the powder room. At the same time, the dining room is only beyond the ancient exterior brick wall. Tucked underneath the stairs is the home office.
Even though she wanted her house to turn into one of those modern homes she saw in the magazines, she kept the existing brick wall exposed as much as possible. By doing that, Sabrina used, in very interesting ways, industrial materials and, also, she exposed other building systems. Often seen in industrial applications, the C-channel used for the stairs contrasts perfectly with the open wood risers.The stairs are wrapping around a custom two-story bookshelf, which was made by the use of threaded steel rods that are bolted into the ceiling and floor.
Sabrina Esser, who is a licensed architect, works at an architectural firm. Her main concern is about large-scale sports facilities. Her husband, Wolfram Esser, is a chemical engineer and, keeping them both on their toes is, of course, their daughter.