Bold and bright decor for everyday and for entertaining
This Toronto home features two living and two dining spaces. The best part? All four are entirely kid friendly.
One house: two living spaces, two dining spaces. Decorated for everyday and for entertaining, all four are entirely kid friendly. Here are the key features that make each room work for children and adults alike.
The open-concept front room of this Toronto house features a living and dining area mainly enjoyed when the family is entertaining – but it’s not the kind of place the kids (who were ages six and three when it was designed) can’t go. “I wanted my home to feel child friendly, but not in an amusement park kind of way,” says homeowner Amanda Cohen, who lives here with her husband, Noah Segal, and their two boys, Olivier (Liv) and Beckham, now 12 and 9. “I needed it to be fun, as well as cozy and comfortable...and usable.”
Expandable dining table
When fully extended, the dining table seats 14 people. “I have a big family, my husband has a big family, and it’s important to us that everyone fits,” explains homeowner Amanda Cohen. “I’m not into having a kids’ table. I want everyone in the same space.”
Weathered coffee table
The entire family enjoying the same area as much as possible applies to after dinner, too. While the adults are chatting around the dining table, the kids can play in the adjoining living room – which is why designer Tim Johnson chose a coffee table that can endure a lot of use. “The kids can craft on it, I'm sure there’s glue stuck to it... and it just gets better,” says Amanda.
From the sofa to the dining chairs, the fabrics Tim chose are all tough. “The design is about fun and laughter and kids being able to jump on the furniture, which they do,” says Tim. “That’s just the kind of family they are.” The most expensive fabric was used on the dining chair backs, which get touched by tiny hands the least.
Inexpensive toss cushions
“How much are you going to spend on toss cushions when you know your kids are going to throw them around?” says Amanda with a laugh.
“The kids really, really love this area,” says Amanda of the back room of the family’s house. “It’s our happy place. It’s where we spend all our time – eating, crafting, cooking.” While still elegantly appointed, the family room and eat-in area of the kitchen are designed to stand up to the everyday use of an ultra-active household. “Amanda is an absolute firecracker, and her home is a very busy one,” says Tim. “So I designed a space that’s bright and colourful like her but also not too serious or overly precious for her kids (and their friends who visit)."
The gallery wall featuring pictures of the boys captures the carefree energy of the household. “I sent Tim a huge file of photos, and he did the rest,” says Amanda. “He put it up the morning of Mother’s Day. I was bawling.”
Heavy-duty dining table
From their annual MasterChef Junior-inspired competitions to the kids’ science experiments to arts and crafts, this wooden dining table sees a lot of action. “I don’t care if it gets dented,” says Amanda.
With a white vinyl settee and plastic dining chairs, the area where the family eats (and plays) every day can be quickly wiped clean with a wet cloth. The same goes for the family room’s leather ottoman (where the kids play board games).
“You’d never know that this white rug is more than six years old,” says Amanda of why she scotchgarded it. “There have been many spills, and there’s no trace.”
Modern and functional kitchen
An out-of-date kitchen gets a fresh, modern makeover.
Closed off and cramped, there was nothing working about this family kitchen.
A swish of the wand (and hammer) and this small space went from cramped and dreary to open and fresh, the perfect match for this family.
“I’m a firm believer in bringing the outdoors in,” says designer Trish Johnston. To liven up the space, she chose a durable light grey faux bois porcelain tile for the floor and glossy white subway tiles to run floor-to-ceiling behind the range. To counter all the white, Trish chose a bold wallpaper. “The cheery green pattern is so fresh and inspiring,” she says. Hits of natural texture and gold-toned hardware tie the whole look together. “It’s all big box but doesn’t feel like it,” explains Trish.
“When I first saw the space, it was apparent that the layout was not working,” says Trish. “So I redesigned the kitchen with a working triangle in mind to make it more functional.”
Trish replaced the peninsula with an island and changed its orientation to run down the centre of the room, allowing her to incorporate a large 10-foot-long version, complete with an undermount sink, dishwasher and tons of extra storage.
Trish wanted to create a way for Nicole and Nial’s son, Nathan, 5, to be able to participate in mealtime prep, so she got rid of the table and chairs and incorporated a few stools at the island. “It’s a great place for him to colour or play while Mom and Dad are working in the kitchen,” says trish. By the window, two armchairs serve as a spot for morning coffee or evening cocktails. “They really soften the hard lines in the space and give it a homey, relaxed vibe,” says Trish. With the accompanying vibrant wallpaper and jute rug, the area almost evokes a mini sitting room.
Trish also created a command centre between two banks of cabinetry to give homeowners Nicole and Nial Hennessy a spot for charging electronics, paying bills or displaying self-serve appetizers and drinks for guests.
“We spruced up the room by using IKEA's Sektion/Bodbyn cabinetry throughout, but in white for the island and in grey for the pantry wall,” says Trish. The contrasting colours help define the kitchen’s two zones: work and storage.
With so many cabinets and tons of storage, it's important to stay organized, even in the smallest drawers.
The space remains fresh, not just through the new design, but also by adding some simple greenery to match the view outside.
Refined eclectic condo design
Designer Olivia Hnatyshin has a case of the blues... but in the best way possible.
The living room's custom sofa was one of Olivia's first investment pieces. “It fits four or five people comfortably,” she says, “so it’s perfect on movie nights.” Whether it’s a cocktail party or a casual get-together, the young designer loves to host.
Another enterprising effort was accommodating her childhood piano – which Olivia’s parents threatened to give away if she didn’t take. “It’s just one big, non-functional piece of furniture,” she says. “Creating a vignette around it with a tufted bench and pretty artwork helped distract from the fact that I have a huge, clunky black piano in my hall.” And she’s glad it’s there: The stylish setting encourages her to play it whenever there’s a spare moment in her busy life.
“Sometimes if you go literal with a certain theme, it works,” says Olivia, who typically mixes styles and eras, but in her entryway stuck to a strong Chinese influence, from the Foo dogs to the faux bamboo mirror and console. The leopard-print stool is actually Olivia’s old piano bench updated with fresh fabric.
The pagoda chair Olivia’s sitting in is one of her favourite pieces in the home. “It’s like my spirit animal,” she says. It was a steal at $90 and already upholstered in a fabric she loves.
Olivia didn’t change much about the builder-grade white kitchen, apart from adding a portable island as extra counter space for cooking and entertaining. “Where do I draw the line when I know this isn’t my forever space?” Olivia asked herself. For her, it proved to be the kitchen.
“Turquoise has been my favourite colour since I was little,” says Olivia. “I’m always drawn to it.” This is evidenced in the array of toss cushions on display on the living room sofa.
“Bedrooms should be a little more moody,” says Olivia of the reason hers is imbued with deeper blues than the rest of the condo. The room’s starting point was the Schumacher fabric on the lumbar cushion – the wallpaper and bedding fell easily into place after that. Above the bed, the gallery of small plates provides an unexpected spin on the traditional. Some are extras from Olivia’s own dish set, others are from her mom and the light blue one in the centre is a hand-me-down from Olivia’s paternal grandmother.
The armoire in the living room was a $300 antiques store score and acts as Olivia's media unit, where she tucks the TV out of sight when not in use. The artwork flanking it is also a creative moneysaver: framed coaster souvenirs from a trip to New York City. She also incorporated refinished vintage furniture, such as the sidechairs flanking the living room armoire.
The living room is awash in watery blues that are amplified in glass details for an airy, ethereal effect.
Easily update your home this fall with natural accents that create impact and add texture, without adding to the bills.
After summer ends and we all brace for the colder months, we bid farewell to the flower markets and prepare the gardens for hibernation. While we love our tulips and dahlias, there’s something undeniably beautiful in going au natural. We're talking bare bones (or bark in this case). It’s simple, readily available and affordable (possibly even free!). That’s right, decor accents can be found right outside your home! From branches to leaves to moss, there’s an abundance out there just waiting to beautify your home. Not sure how to make sticks look stylish? Not to worry, we have plenty of ways to inspire some new fall decor.
Fallen branches are your easiest bet. Gather a bundle and let them create visual interest and add texture in your space.
Is there a tree hanging precariously low or in the way? Take advantage of some tree trimming and go big with a large branch propped against a wall for some real impact.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
Bright and bold
Not into the bare branch look? Using a large branch with its leaves is not only a great statement, but can also add a luscious dose of colour – especially if the leaves have started to change into those beautiful autumnal oranges and reds.
Rustic red centrepiece
Speaking of changing leaves, a cluster of rich, red leaves makes for an instant fall centrepiece.
Credits: Janis Nicolay
Pretty in pink
With their sparse pink blooms, magnolia branches make a softer statement when effortlessly displayed in a simple white ceramic jug.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
It doesn’t get any simpler than feathery green branches in a clear glass vase to celebrate their natural beauty.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
An organic touch
These eucalyptus branches are just as simple, but have a slightly different look and feel. They still add a delightful organic touch, but with a richer, fuller display.
Credits: Janis Nicolay
Amp up your greenery by mixing assorted wildflowers with your eucalyptus for a more lush arrangement.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
Soft and simple
A simple bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace leaves adds a touch of texture and greenery.
Credits: Robin Stubbert
Low profile, high impact
If you don’t want the height of branches and leaves impeding views, but still want a burst of natural green colour in your space, a decorative bowl of moss instantly injects life into any space.