Extreme Makeover: a new staircase adds space and light to a narrow semi in The Beach
When Kate Halpenny, a fundraiser, and Sean Smith, a banker, bought a dreary, oddly divided 1900s semi in the Beach, family members nearly fainted. “My mom actually cried,” says Halpenny. They embarked on an 18-month reno with architect Heather Dubbeldam, who envisioned an uncomplicated space that was functional for the couple’s kids, Kieran, now 8, and Charlotte, 6. The major project was to update a room-dissecting staircase—a common feature in the Beach’s older houses. Dubbeldam reversed the second-floor stairs to align with the first and added a budget-friendly transparent plastic wrap. Light filters down from a skylight in the master bedroom. In the end, the relatives were appeased. “It’s a delight when people walk in and see how spacious it has become,” says Halpenny.