The Passion Project: an extreme Rosedale reno inspired by an out-of-control art collection
Cheryl Atkinson and Don Schmitt were running out of wall space; they’d been collecting artwork for years, and their Trinity Bellwoods semi was starting to look more like a storeroom than a sanctuary. Both practising architects, they were also itching to design their own home—a bright, contemporary space they could share with their cats, Smudge and Eldridge, and their 25-year-old son, Sam, a Concordia fine arts grad who’d recently moved back home. In the spring of 2013, they happened upon the perfect blank slate: a run-down Victorian in Rosedale with a red-brick façade and three sprawling storeys. It needed work—the building had been duplexed, and the interiors were gloomy and outdated—but the couple tackled the reno with relish. They opened up the back of the house, turning five cramped rooms into a soaring, light-filled atrium; carved out airy workspaces for themselves and Sam on the second and third floors; and, as a centrepiece, installed a twisting snow-white staircase that melts into the surrounding walls. Now there’s sufficient room to showcase all their graphic prints, intricate sculptures and prismatic oil paintings (including a few Sam Schmitt originals). The space is barely recognizable, except for the dining room, which they left almost untouched—a wood-panelled ode to the home’s 125-year history.