Sara occupies a converted Victorian townhouse from the early 1900s on the rapidly-changing Portland St in Toronto’s bustling Entertainment District. The 50+ seat, 2,400 square foot restaurant, converted from a residential building, was an architectural exercise in striking the right balance between preserving the building’s domestic character, and maximizing its potential as a restaurant.
The restaurant concept envisioned a “blank slate” approach to the dining experience, where guests could disconnect from the devices of the outside world to more deeply connect with one another. To bring this to life, the design became about providing a profound sense of place on one hand, and on the other, about providing a sense of calm.
On the exterior, several layers of paint were removed to reveal the original character of the building, exposing the red and yellow brickwork which had been hidden for decades. To play with the proportions of the interior spaces, the structure was opened up entirely by removing and re-framing all of the floors, resulting in an intimate, vaulted main floor dining space which dramatically flows up to the expansive double-height dining room on the second floor. For the furniture design, material palette, and interior detailing, the intention was to channel the sensation of being at the edge of a body of water — a place of calm and escape.
To bring this idea to life, a strict horizon line expands across the two main dining rooms, created by oak wainscoting and the top of the banquette which wraps the walls. Anchored by the mineral quality of the porcelain flooring, these highly-textured elements of wood, velvet, and leather combine to provide a sense of weightiness, grounding guests in the space. Above this, the walls and ceilings disappear into an expanse of white; no wall-mounted fixtures, no unnecessary decor or objects to disturb the eye or mind. Together, the space exudes a character one can describe as “earthly minimal,” a blend of the haptic qualities of the land and sea with the calmness of minimalism.
Source : ODAMI, design studio based in Toronto, Canada.
Photo Credit: Kurtis Chen