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Real Estate

How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

By Caroline Aksich| Photography by Derek Shapton
How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived
Illustration by Aleksandar Janicijevic

Malan Rietveld, an investment consultant, and his wife, Ashley Millar, a historian, were bouncing between New York City and Malan’s native South Africa when they decided they wanted their son, Leo, to have a brother or sister. The multi-city juggling act was doable with one kid but seemed impossible with two. Keen to settle in North America but priced out of New York, they decided to hunt for a house in Toronto, Ashley’s hometown.

They wanted two kids’ rooms and a master bedroom on the same floor. Ideally, the house would also have space for a separate guest suite, as well as room for an office, because Malan works from home.

In May 2016, they found a three-storey Edwardian foursquare in Roncesvalles, which fit the bill but was charmless. White siding covered up sections of ­century-old brick, about a dozen tenants had been crammed into a patchwork of mismatched extensions, and the kitchen ceiling hid a serious leak.

They rushed to find a builder that could complete a reno before baby number two’s arrival. Every company they approached balked at their aggressive timetable, except Lionfish, a residential design and construction company, which got everything done in seven months.

The home is now totally unrecognizable. The main floor is an entirely open living space. The second floor has three light-filled bedrooms, while the third storey has been transformed into a palatial in-law suite. Leo, now three years old, finally has a place to call home—and the house was finished a few months before baby Kai was born.


The three Tom Dixon pendants that hang over the kitchen island match chromatically, but each one is a different shape:

How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

Ashley brought this dresser back from Cape Town. She loves the inlays and mismatched knobs:

How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

Malan displays his guitar collection in his basement office:

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How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

Leo’s room has a safari theme. The cabin bed is cute and practical, because the walls keep him from rolling onto the floor at night:

How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

The designers snagged some extra space from the roofline and added these deep built-in drawers:

How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

The stairs are the architectural anchor of the house. Ashley measured to make extra sure there was no way Leo could slip between the steps:

How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

This Delta table by Pianca has two glass leaves that fold out to accommodate 12-person dinner parties:

How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

The family is divided over the Japanese washlet toilet. Ashley is a proselytizing convert. Malan, not so much. Here’s the bathroom:

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How a family raced to gut a Roncesvalles home before baby number two arrived

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