Take a peek inside this super chic and stylish condo.
A designer brings serenity to a condo belonging to a pair of lifelong art collectors.
Incorporating art collections into interiors can be tricky for designers. They need to honour the works while delivering a design that reflects the lifestyle and decor preferences of their clients. Ultimately, the result should express the taste and passion of the collectors.
The owners of this Toronto condo devoted three decades to scooping up art and objets – particularly Asian, African and Canadian pieces – on their travels around the world. The beloved treasures, along with a lifetime’s worth of stuff in general, were starting to encroach on their space, which had other issues: A wall divided the kitchen from the living room, creating a jail-like atmosphere for the person prepping meals; the kitchen itself was shabby; and the two bathrooms were in equally rough shape.
“Dark, cluttered and dated” is how designer Anne Hepfer describes the state of the original 1,500-square-foot condo, which she had completely gutted and opened up. Fortunately, the unit had one redeeming quality: a row of large south-facing windows.
While Anne’s clients can pick out an Inuit carving in a flash, when it comes to decorating, they’re stumped. “Over the years, we’ve bought many things that were just poor choices,” says one of the homeowners. “I would highly recommend hiring a designer because it actually saves money.” That said, the vintage kilims they brought back from Morocco and the Middle East, boasting pale pink, soft grey and earthy brown hues, served as the starting point for the condo’s palette, proving to be one of the homeowners’ better purchases. Anne made toss cushions out of these textiles (“They add an exotic flourish,” she says) and then, to really up the ante, turned to the drama of the runway. “I looked to Italian fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli’s elegant use of neutrals, which translates so beautifully to interiors,” says Anne. She also accented the space with hits of black for contrast and mixed metals for sparkle.
As in Brunello Cucinelli’s collections, a thread of understated luxury stitches the rooms together: a vintage French chest in the entryway, a quartet of plush pink club chairs in the living area and a headboard upholstered in Kelly Wearstler fabric in the master bedroom, to name a few. As for the homeowners’ vast art collection? Anne worked her magic, thoughtfully layering items in the form of vignettes, creating special moments throughout the condo.
The vintage French chest, gilded mirror and sea urchin-patterned chairs make for a stunning welcome in the entryway, especially when paired with the gorgeous parquet that extends throughout the open-concept condo. Instead of sending the flooring to a landfill, designer Anne Hepfer had it refinished because it was in great shape.
The living room boasts two sitting areas: one with a soft grey linen sofa and two armchairs and the other with four velvety pale pink chenille swivel club chairs, all designed by Anne herself. “I love incorporating natural materials into a space because it lends an earthy element,” she says.
The small kitchen features a practical back-painted glass backsplash and Caesarstone countertops. Anne ripped out the wall that separated the kitchen from the living room and installed a bar-height counter to open up the space.
The master bedroom has a cocoon-like vibe thanks to its monochromatic mix of textures and patterns.
The vintage nightstand was given a coat of warm grey paint, which perfectly complements the artwork by David Fisher.
Evoking a casual feel, the den is decked out with an antique desk and a chaise that’s perfect for watching TV.
“I really love how this project evolved,” says Anne. “It was a joy, putting together the pieces of the puzzle, editing and using a lot of restraint.” The easiest thing she could have done, of course, was store it all and start fresh, but that wouldn’t have been an authentic way to honour this professional couple’s passion for art and travel. “Including my clients’ unique collection into the design,” says Anne, “makes the space personal, warm, inviting – and theirs.”
Modern-meets-rustic living room.
Designer Paula Velez's 112-year-old home gets a modern-rustic makeover, in which cherished keepsakes and new-found favourites happily coexist.
On a quaint, leafy street in midtown Toronto, a vibrant orange front door on a charming whitewashed brick home is the only clue to the study in contrasts that lies within.
Designer Paula Velez purchased the place two years ago, after combing the neighbourhood for its oldest homes. Built in 1903, the narrow, 2,800-square-foot three-floor house was cramped, dark and outdated. But Paula – who moved to Toronto from Colombia 14 years ago – saw its potential as an airy space that blended the building’s history with a modern-rustic vibe.
During a nine-month home renovation, the walls separating her kitchen, living room and dining room came down, creating one large open area flooded with light - a move that left the electricians scratching their heads over where to relocate the light switches and plugs.
Perhaps the biggest change was to the top floor, which was gutted to make way for a spacious master bedroom – and a dream ensuite bath – where new and expanded windows take full advantage of the outdoor scenery.
After falling in love with a pair of handmade woven stools she found in New York City, Paula brought them home to use together as a DIY coffee table in the family room, her most-used space in the house.
The white painted living room's wood-burning fireplace features a dramatic Italian steel tile surround and is complimented by the sculptural triangular coffee table. "I love the modern triangular shape - it's organic and classic," says Paula, who topped it with antique shoe moulds for contrast.
Paula saw that something was missing in her dining room: The painted white walls were too stark. "I happened to have three giant coffee bags I'd bought back from Colombia, so I framed them," she says.
Before Paula's rustic kitchen renovation.
The new rustic kitchen features dark grey lower kitchen cabinetry and floating metal shelves that showcase favourite pottery decor and collectibles from Paula's travels. The adjustable stools can be used at the kitchen island for quick breakfasts or lowered to serve as extra seating around the dining table.
The white honeycomb tiled kitchen backsplash stretches up to the ceiling, lending height to the room.
Paula updated a tired wooden chair in her new home office with cheerful yellow paint. "You don't have to spend millions of dollars for great design," she says. "Be creative, use what you have and love your pieces." The artwork made by her aunt in Colombia is another favourite.
In the master bedroom, a sliding barn door crafted from distressed wood is offset by the eclectic antler chandelier in the stairwell, which homeowner and designer Paula Velez spray-painted with five coats of splashy orange for a modern lodge look.
In the sun-drenched master bedroom, Paula positioned the new white windows to take full advantage of the wooded view beyond, which she echoed in the birch tree wallpaper.
Paula calls this antique 1940s chair and its matching companion (not shown). "The Survivors" after they endured nine months surrounded by plaster dust and power tools. "I bought them from the previous owners, but I had nowhere to store them. Every time I checked on the house, these chairs were in a different place - I thought they'd get destroyed, but they made it," she says. "They're now in my master bedroom."
A rustic industrial-style grey concrete sink ("it looks like something cows drink from on a farm," says Paula) is juxtaposed with a sculptural antique-look bathtub ("I love that it's traditional and romantic") to create the ultimate retreat in her master bath.
Antlers used as DIY towel hooks reference the others throughout the home.
For someone about to renovate: Count on the project taking longer than you'd expect. Things never go as smoothly as you think they will. Most worthwhile investment: The wireless ceiling speaker makes my home a beautiful jewellery box with music. Best out-of-the-box idea: Pairing an industrial concrete sink with a traditional clawfoot tub in her master bath. Favourite budget find: The reclaimed barn beams scored at a farm outside Toronto add character to the family room's vaulted ceiling. Biggest regret: Not making my bedroom closet bigger! It always seems larger before you move in.
Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall.
These faux marble options are just as elegant as the real deal.
Few materials strike a chord with us in the same way that marble does. The sought-after stone, with its subtle sheen and veined markings, is quick to catch the eye and lends a luxe look to a space without being over the top. The downside, of course, is its price point. Here are 5 marble-like options that will achieve the same sophisticated, formal look for a fraction of the cost.
Looking for a faux marble tile that can handle heavy foot traffic? Consider peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles. In addition to their resilient nature, the tiles can be installed over most existing flooring. In other words, they make for a perfect weekend DIY project that won’t end in defeat. TrafficMaster Premium Vinyl Tile in Carrara Marble, Home Depot, starting at $0.89/sq. ft.
If you love the marbled look, you’ll want to customize all of your furniture with this stylish contact paper. The affordable material has a peel-away backing that can stick to almost any surface, from the top of a coffee table to the inside of kitchen drawers. Keep in mind that the paper doesn’t react well to water, so avoid using it in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink. Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall, $59.99 per roll.
Elevate your living space with ceramic wall tiles that mimic the look of marble like this elegant option from Ciot. Though similar in appearance, ceramic is far more delicate than marble and is therefore more susceptible to chips and cracks. The solution: Be strategic with placement, avoiding high-traffic areas in favour of bathroom walls or backsplashes. Marvel Wall Tile in Calacatta Extra, Ciot, see store for pricing.
Porcelain is another classic material that boasts marble's polished aesthetic without the hefty price tag. The tile is more resilient than ceramic, which makes it perfect for flooring as well as bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes. Let's just say marble-inspired porcelain has the ability to make any space sparkle. Glazed Porcelain Tiles in White, Olympia Tile + Stone, see store for pricing.
If you’re not yet familiar with Laminam, allow us to be the first to introduce you. The innovative material is touted as being the world’s first porcelain tile that's offered in 3 metre by 1 metre panels and is thinner than standard porcelain tiling. This means that in addition to covering existing walls and floors, Laminam can take on an array of delicate surfaces (think fireplace surrounds, kitchen countertops and outdoor areas). I Naturali Laminam in Bianco Statuario, Stone Tile, see store for pricing.
Give this fresh citrus cake a try - we promise you'll love it!
Zingy citrus and Greek yogurt make this cake perfect for more than just dessert – try it morning, noon and night.
Lazy evenings at the cottage require a light “after” that’s easy to assemble but doesn’t skimp on taste – the kind of treat that keeps the fork in your hand, reaching for just one more bite. This juicy cake fits the bill. In fact, it’s a dessert that’s so fresh and good you’ll want it for a lazy cottage breakfast, too.
1 Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
2 Add the eggs, one at a time; continue beating, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
3 Turn the mixer to low speed and add 1/2 cup of the orange juice, the yogurt and zest; beat until thoroughly combined.
4 In a medium bowl, whisk together the instant polenta, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
5 Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until fully incorporated.
6 Scrape the batter into a greased 10" round springform pan.
7 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel from the oranges and slice the flesh crosswise into thin rounds; arrange the slices on top of the cake batter.
8 Bake until the edges of the cake are golden brown and the centre is lightly puffed but still dense and pudding-like to the touch, about 30 to 40 minutes.
9 Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the orange liqueur, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
10 Spoon the syrup over the warm cake before removing the cake from the pan. Let cool slightly before serving.
Serves: 8 to 10