Homes

Bungalow beautiful: Architect Nic De Socio updates his childhood home

Three generations and counting. It was a true homecoming when Nic De Socio, his wife Tracy Norris, and their young son Massimo moved into their newly renovated Fisher Heights bungalow in 2017. Nic’s parents originally owned the house, moving into the three-bedroom bungalow in 1977 and raising their three children in the quiet neighbourhood before moving to a larger house in 1987.

“I was just seven when we moved, but I still have great memories of playing in our big backyard,” says Nic.

His parents rented out the bungalow for the next three decades, but with substantial repairs looming, they began to think about selling. That’s when Nic and Tracy jumped at the opportunity to restore the classic bungalow. “Some people might have seen this as a house that was in rough shape and done a teardown,” says Nic. “We could have done that, but it wouldn’t have been right.” Instead, he and Tracy have created a home that is subtle in design but makes a bold statement about the importance of family, heritage, and neighbourhood.

Photo by Urszula Muntean

Making Space
Stripping the interior down to its studs allowed Nic, an architect with Colizza Bruni Architecture, to keep the bones of the house while reconfiguring the layout. None of the walls breaking up the living area were load-bearing, allowing for a linked kitchen, living room, and dining room. Simultaneously spacious and cozy, it’s perfect for their small family but easily accommodates large gatherings. “It really is the easiest house,” says Tracy. “Everything is just two steps away.”

Tracy, Massimo, and Nic in the kitchen, which is open to the living and dining rooms. Photo by Urszula Muntean

And though the main space looks larger without walls, it’s actually slightly more compact than the original set-up — Nic pushed the kitchen wall four feet into the living room area to give him space for a luxurious ensuite off the master bedroom.

The sleek kitchen features Ikea cabinetry and an island with walnut side panels. Photo by Urszula Muntean

By maintaining the width of the windows but making them taller, Nic respected the original proportions while making all the rooms infinitely brighter. A sleek kitchen designed without upper cabinetry maintains that lightness. Nic compensated for the lost storage space by tucking a pantry in behind the refrigerator and adding storage under the island.

The bathrooms are now bright and modern. Photos by Urszula Muntean

Paying Homage
Even as they modernized, Nic and Tracy retained the essence of the original dwelling, paying homage to the house and the era in which it was built. The brick surrounding the fireplace is the original angel stone, while the mantel feels of-the-era, simultaneously retro and modern.

The dining room chairs and hutch, both of which belonged to Tracy’s parents, exemplify mid-century-modern cool. The painting is an original by Nic.     Photo by Urszula Muntean

The dining room, with its dramatic black end wall, exemplifies mid-century-modern cool. The hutch and the dining room chairs belonged to Tracy’s parents; “It’s good timing that they’re back in style,” Tracy says, laughing. And the fun starburst clock above the hutch was a serendipitous find, discovered in Nic’s grandmother’s basement.