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A stylish home that works to special needs

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Home of Mick Griffin and Cathy Hunt redesigned by Solares Architecture. Front exterior view. The redesigned 1911 house is an open, airy, sophisticated reno by Solares Architecture. Ms. Hunt says their guiding principle was simple: ‘We want to make this a beautiful design so that anybody would want to live here; it doesn’t scream accessibility – and [Solares] totally pulled it off.’

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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Rather than rip up new landscaping to install lifts and ramps on the public face of the handsome brick house, Solares came up with the idea of adding a garage to the rear that would connect to the home to give Mr. Griffin an at-grade entry. “They went from no garage to the Garage Mahal,” architect Christine Lolley says with a laugh.

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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With so much work going on, it was only logical that the rest of the home get a similar makeover, Ms. Lolley says. “While we’re ripping up the house, let’s open up the spaces, let’s insulate, let’s put new windows, let’s modernize.”

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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Main stair. The project was a challenge for contractor Kurt Schmidt. 'That’s part of what makes it more interesting,’ Mr. Schmidt says. ‘It’s not a box, it’s not as straightforward as new construction.’

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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In the second floor bathroom the wide shower area would need a gentle slope for drainage, but raising the floor to accommodate this wouldn’t cut it, since thresholds and transition strips are a no-no when it comes to wheelchairs. Instead, Mr. Schmidt and his team at Spaces Construction and Renovation created a new subfloor between the century-old joists. More work, yes, but the seamless bathroom will be a boon when Ms. Hunt, an artist, faces her own mobility issues down the road.

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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Master bedroom.

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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Patio.

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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Upstairs hall.

Carla Weinberg/Solares Architecture

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Elevator.

Lindsay Lauckner/The Globe and Mail

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Mick Griffin and Cathy Hunt taking the elevator. 'I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever live in a house like this,’ says Ms. Hunt, to which Mr. Griffin adds: 'There’s a whole level of relaxation now.'

Lindsay Lauckner/The Globe and Mail

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The entire backyard was excavated (as was the original cramped basement). Now, Mr. Griffin travels past two houses, wheels in, then, after travelling the length of the garage, a motorized door welcomes him into a spacious, bright basement boasting nine-foot ceilings. There’s a huge mudroom, a big accessible bathroom, and then a man cave, which can double as an editing suite (Mr. Griffin is a partner in TV post house Rooster). “This level is all about Mick,” Ms. Lolley says.

Lindsay Lauckner/The Globe and Mail

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In the kitchen, a low counter that Mr. Griffin wheels under to make coffee (he works from home a fair bit) with a second sink is also a great place to wash and prepare salads during dinner parties; a feature that wouldn’t look out of place in any home.

Lindsay Lauckner/The Globe and Mail

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The sliding door on the main floor opens directly onto a deck that is above the basement garage.

Lindsay Lauckner/The Globe and Mail

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