Story time

Once upon a time, there was a big empty room in the basement of a church.1 This basement was like none other -– with high ceilings and lots of light, and an enchanting warren of rooms and corridors serving as a school for children.2 Along came a young woman both clever and true3, determined to turn the room into a wonderful library for the kids. To accomplish this, she reasoned, I must think of myself as a little person. Listening closely, she heard herself express wishes three: “I want a floor to flop on”4; “I want nooks and crannies”5; I want nice bright colours.”6 These she attended to in short order. A thrifty sort7, and knowing a good thing when she saw it, the wise young woman kept the existing leaded-glass windows, but added some lights8 and glass doors at the entrance for a sense of occasion.9 Plus, some furniture when the floor wouldn’t do.10 And so it came to pass that the forgotten room became a spot the children loved best, a place to dream of “happy ever after.” 


1St. Clement’s Anglican Church in mid-town Toronto,
built in 1939, serving the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood.

2St. Clement’s Early Learning School, founded in 1955.
Its mandate ranges form nursery school to Grade 2.
In 2012-13, there are 160 children attending.

3Merike Bauer of Toronto-based Reigo & Bauer, founded by Merike and her husband, Stephen Bauer, in 2005.
The design firm is known for its crisp and clean
residential projects. St. Clement’s Early Learning School
is its very first foray into other areas of design.

4Reztec Rubber Flooring, a blend of pre- and post-
consumer waste rubber, durable and easy to maintain
and clean, providing a soft surface for story time.

5Tough, high-pressure laminate shelving, to break the floor plan into different subjects/zones. “All of the millwork was custom designed by us and made by O’Sullivan Millwork,” says Merike. “The laminate itself is by Abet Laminati.”

6Merike chose four contrasting colours, more interesting than primary colours.

7Reigo & Bauer made the most of a small budget, sourcing and recovering vintage furnishings with fun fabrics.

8Says Merike, “I found lights like I remember – literally ‘old school.’”

9One of the photos by Tom Arban offers a glimpse of a window and a view of the doors.

10Chairs and step stools from Loll Designs, which specializes in modern outdoor furniture made from recycled milk containers.