Recipe: Wild mushroom and butternut squash soup
Bright and colourful basement
Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin reimagines her dim and dysfunctional basement games room as a bright multi-purpose space with Scandi flair.
Dark. Dated. Dungeon-like.
Just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when looking at the shocking “before” photo of Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin’s now-admirable Toronto basement. Low ceilings and black-stained hardwood flooring made the 600-square-foot space feel oppressive – and the hefty pool table, oversized oil paintings and orange-painted millwork didn’t help. “It screamed ’80s pool hall, but worse yet, it was pretty much unusable,” she says. “It needed a total overhaul.”
To the untrained eye, making something of the narrow, windowless space would have seemed like a wasted effort. But as the proud owner of a century home, Erin is no reno rookie and had a clear vision of an airy, functional family room.
Erin's basement before its bright and inviting renovation.
At the far end of the family room, blend-into-the-wall white storage cabinets offer function without adding visual weight for a bright, airy space. Classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s grace the TV screen on frequent family movie nights.
An existing large alcove was the natural choice for the dining nook. Grey paint defines it and balances out the stone-clad fireplace across the room.
The next big thing to windows that open to the outside? A pair of radiant nature photographs paired with newly installed pot lights. The wall treatment of white-painted wood boards lends the room a Scandi-chic vibe.
To sustain the airness of the space, Erin chose a palette of soft greys and taupes with mauve accents.
Erin opted for a touch-latch mechanism in place of door pulls on the high-gloss flat-panelled storage unit (made from prefab IKEA cabinetry) for a totally streamlined look.
A light push in the right spot on the white storage units reveals the family’s extended collection of classic flicks and literature.
Seating options abound in the new family-friendly space. Even Cloudy, homeowner Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin’s Siamese cat, gets a stylish perch of his very own in an unused corner. The inconspicuous wall-hung radiator was a practical addition in the circa-1920s room.
A photo canvas of New York City paired with Eames-style dining chairs lend this dining area a stylish look.
In her light-filled Toronto apartment, Style at Home associate design editor Morgan Lindsay cleverly combines old and new with her own crafty creations.
While most people in their 20s are cobbling together their first apartment from leftover student furnishings and dubious hand-me-downs, Style at Home's associate design editor, Morgan Lindsay, has managed to assemble a sweet and stylish look that would make most 40-somethings envious. And she's done it all on a small decorating budget, with a clever mix of new, thrifted and heirloom pieces, plus a good dose of DIY decor.
The 850-square-foot, two-bedroom Toronto apartment has an enviable uptown location with a distant view of the CN Tower from big south-facing windows. Morgan's brother already lived in the building, so she rented this top-floor unit as soon as it became available. The next step was to successfully woo her friend Lauren Hanna into being her roommate - an easy feat, as they've been tight since meeting in their first year of university. Once the pair moved in, Morgan set to workmaking the basic space into a reflection of their youthful style. "Lauren is not that into decorating, but thankfully she trusts my taste," says Morgan. "She's always happy to help, too!"
The girls' family members pitched in as well. "Lauren's dad is our handyman. He hung all the drapery rods, the heavy vintage mirror above the desk and the shelf in the kitchen," says Morgan. "And my mom sewed most of the toss cushions." This being a rental, major modifications obviously weren't feasible, but clever Morgan found ways around the no-permanent-changes rule. A feature wall just inside the entryway was treated with graphic wallpaper - hung with double-sided tape so it's easy to take down when the time comes. The same paper creates a low-commitment yet dynamic kitchen backsplash. Luckily, the white walls were in line with Morgan's clean and simple aesthetic, so her bedroom was the only room she painted - pale grey, her favourite shade.
In her spare time, Morgan can also be found getting crafty with paint, glue and glitter, making art pieces to frame and add to the galleries above her bed and the sofa. Happily, her friends eschewed the typical bottles of wine for a housewarming gift. After spotting a certain bar cart on Morgan's Pinterest board, her closest pals chipped in and bought it. Now it sits in one corner of the dining area, ready for entertaining her generous friends and family. We're guessing she'll still have it when she's 40-something.
Bold Marimekko wallpaper provides a graphic punch to the entryway wall. The pink bench gets pressed into service as extra seating when friends and family drop in.
Morgan added colour (in a scheme of course) to her entrance using stacked books, a flower arrangement and a fitting stock card that says "hello".
The so-out-it’s-in room divider is original to the ’70s-era apartment. The white slipcovered sofa is one of the few brand new items Morgan bought to furnish her first place. Her love of white, grey and pink is evident throughout the space.
Inspired by a favourite blogger, Morgan crafted this genius gallery wall with a label maker and cardboard.
Homeowner and Style at Home associate design editor Morgan Lindsay enlisted her mom to sew most of the toss cushions in the space.
The open-concept living area included a small office nook, where Morgan gets creative with her DIY projects. She scored the hanging mirror for $20 and transformed its beat-up frame with grey paint.
Morgan's DIY decor tools are always at an arms-length (and looking pretty!) just in case she's inspired to get crafty.
Morgan’s parents bought her the giant photo canvas of New York City. In it you can see Parsons the New School for Design, where Morgan attended a summer program. In this cozy space, Morgan loves her Earnes-style dining chairs.
It was a happy accident that the kitchen had basic white cabinetry and grey countertops and flooring. Morgan updated things by changing the hardware and using leftover wallpaper from the entryway as a makeshift backsplash.
Morgan added charm to her bedroom with vintage and heirloom pieces. There's an antique toile-covered sidechair and pine dresser (both passed down from her grandparents) commingle with the clean-lined bed and modern linens. The giant “M” came from the Christie Antique Show, which Morgan attends every year.
Take a tour of Canadian writer Kelly Oxford's L.A. home.
Celebrated designer Orlando Soria creates a carefree and quirky Palm Springs-style oasis in the canyons for a famous Canadian writer living in L.A.
Few friendships are built solely on decor, but for Orlando Soria and Kelly Oxford, it was certainly the foundation. Having met when he redesigned her Los Angeles office, they seem like a match made in heaven: Orlando, creative director of the design firm Homepolish, is one of the decor world’s funniest Instagrammers, and Kelly became famous for her hilarious and unapologetically sarcastic tweets. Needless to say, the office transformation was marked by not only shared tastes, but also cheeky texts and rapid-fire repartee. So when the Edmonton-born, L.A.-based writer of the bestselling memoir Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar – who’s also authored television pilots and movie scripts and appeared in film and on TV with the likes of James Franco and Nicole Richie – moved into a new home with her husband and their three kids, Orlando was the obvious choice to head up its design. “We had such a good time doing Kelly’s office, it was only natural that I do her house as well,” he says. And Kelly’s an easy client. “Half of our texts were about furniture; half were attempts to make each other laugh,” says Orlando, who would send Kelly photos of crazy finds to which she never once replied “Why the heck are you showing me that!?” At times, Kelly even joined Orlando on his flea market furniture hunts. “She’s way better at bargaining than me,” he admits.
Only the main living area needed Orlando’s deft touch, but it presented a challenge for the designer: How would he make the grand all-white room, which gets lots of light from a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, feel elegant and cozy? Dividing the space into three “rooms” (a dining area, living area and family area) unified by a cohesive colour palette and matching rugs was a clever start. Establishing a cool mid-century Palm Springs vibe – which embraces bright light, bright white and bright accent colours – perfected the look, as did the eclectic elements synonymous with Kelly’s style.
“Kelly loves clean lines and contemporary accessories, but there’s a special place in her heart for vintage kitsch – items that have a bit of humour to them,” says the designer. To that point, there are plenty of cheeky moments throughout the house. Those plastic horses trotting along the bar shelves? “We saw them at a flea market and thought they looked stupid but cool at the same time,” he says. That dining room gallery wall? Kelly and Orlando painted bikinis on the nudes to poke fun at ultra modesty. And the French poster for Hitchcock’s The Birds in the kitchen’s eat-in area? A wink at Kelly’s Canadian heritage. “I guess you guys like things that are French because, um, you know more French than we do?” jokes Orlando. Leave it to a friend to understand the nuances of one’s stylish eclecticism – and the quirky chicness of Kelly. As she says in her memoir, “I like the idea that we can contain our weirdess, but I prefer it when we wear it all over ourselves.” Clearly that holds true for her home, too.
Out of a cavernous room with white walls and a white-tiled floor, designer Orlando Soria created three intimate and cozy spaces – a family area, living area and dining area – and unified them using low mid-century modern-style furnishings, the exact same sisal rug and complementary teal, beige and ivory accent colours.
“Sometimes she has this classic old-school thing going on – like when she wears those retro-look glasses,” says Orlando of homeowner Kelly Oxford (both pictured). “But then she also has this really edgy, funny attitude that’s made her famous.”
Long and narrow, the kitchen’s eat-in area demanded an oval-shaped dining table rather than a round one. Orlando also made the bench himself – with the help of Kelly’s young son, Henry – by drilling industrial hairpin legs into a slab of stained wood and tossing a sheepskin on top. “Every other bench we saw was either too deep or too expensive,” says Orlando.
When Kelly and Orlando saw an orange pouffe at a flea market, they thought the $150 US price tag was steep, considering they’d have to have it re-covered, so they passed on the purchase. “But when we walked by the pouffe later in the day, some girls were admiring it, and we said to each other, ‘If they buy it, we’re going to die!’ It’s funny how you realize you want something as soon as someone else wants it, too,” says Orlando with a laugh. The now-teal pouffe is perfect for the living area. “And we still talk about the time some girls tried to steal it from us.”
A massive sectional was a must for the casual family area, where Kelly, her husband and their three kids, pair of cats and two dogs spend tons of time. This bold blue one (which is 10 feet long on both sides) fit the bill for the family to curl up by the fire or watch TV.
“I like to use a variety of materials in any given space,” says Orlando of his approach to decorating. In the dining area, woven chairs (“there’s something very ‘resort’ about them”) are paired with a wooden table, sheer drapery and a view of the backyard pool. “There are a lot of different elements to enjoy.”
“Built-in bars are so mid-century modern,” says Orlando. this one, which is original to the house, is located across from the dining area. “Back in the 1950s and ’60s, people thought having a bar was super glam, which is cute and kind of hilarious.” But there’s no denying that this drinks station is perfect for parties. Its dark surface lends some contrast to the space, while the architectural stools add a dose of fresh, edgy flavour.