Photography: Tracey Ayton
Homeowners' contrasting interior design styles come together in a modern-meets-traditional Vancouver home – no compromises necessary.
It all started with the bar. “The homeowners hired me to renovate a little bar area in their family room,” says designer Chrissy Cottrell of Chrissy & Co. Design Savvy. “And I said, ‘Well, if you do that, your kitchen is going to be very jealous!’” The couple took note, and last summer, the small project turned into a full-scale two-month over-haul of their cramped main floor. Chrissy opened up the space, added storage and updated the aesthetic. Here’s how this home was given the grand treatment.
The dark and dated main level of this 3,000-square-foot home suffered from a chopped-up layout and a look that could best be characterized as nondescript. “It was very fragmented,” says Chrissy. “For such a big place, it only made sense that it have an open-concept floor plan.” In addition to poor flow, the space had a cluttered feel due to insufficient storage. The ho-hum house was also in need of some architectural interest.
A bit of Pinterest surfing indicated the homeowners’ differing styles – she gravitates toward traditional pieces; he likes modern, clean lines. Armed with this information, Chrissy sought to create a space that suited not only their aesthetic preferences but also their lifestyle. “I know they’re planning on having a family,” she says, “so I came up with a design that features kid-friendly finishes and durable furnishings while incorporating both of their styles.”
With a style that Chrissy dubs “eclectic transitional,” the house boasts a bright, organized look that’s both sophisticated and fresh. Juxtapositions of old and new, masculine and feminine, and sleek and ornate create a fine balance. For example, a curvaceous Dutch-style chandelier and ornate gilded mirror offset contemporary furnishings in the living space.
The dining area’s gallery wall was actually created to conceal a TV. “It’s hidden behind the photograph of the horse, which slides up when you press a button on a remote control,” says designer Chrissy Cottrell.
The living area’s fireplace was replaced with a timeless clean-lined version featuring a marble herringbone-tiled surround.
Tearing down the wall between the kitchen and living room and installing sliding glass doors made all the difference: On top of creating a brighter and more open space, it allowed Chrissy to double the kitchen’s size, supplant its eat-in area with a more formal dining spot, and provide better functionality and overall flow. Architectural elements like wire-brushed French white oak floors, fireplaces with marble surrounds and substantial built-ins, inject character. The palette of crisp whites and contrasting neutrals was livened up with a few pops of colour to make the space come alive.
Hand-pressed ceramic subway tiles cover the kitchen walls. With a rippled, slightly imperfect look, they provide intriguing texture and a bit of sparkle. “They have this organic feel to them and subtly reflect the light,” says Chrissy.
The kitchen cabinetry’s soft cream colour is a classic choice that also offers warmth and depth. The exteriors of the brass pendant lights were painted cream to complement the space’s palette.
In the family area, the sofa’s masculine vibe is countered by a pair of smaller-scaled Louis XVI-inspired armchairs. “The only piece of furniture the homeowners wouldn’t part with was the old leather sofa,” says Chrissy. “But it worked out really well!” The gas fireplace was given a facelift with a surround made of 12-by- 24-inch Calacatta marble tiles. “They nicely offset the built-ins, so the wall doesn’t feel too dark,” says the designer.
The family area’s built-ins offer much-needed closed storage and room for display. Painting them a rich charcoal adds handsome contrast, visually differentiates the space from the adjacent kitchen and is a practical choice. “It’s a more livable option than black because all-black surfaces show too much dust,” says Chrissy.
Chrissy painted the entire powder room black. “If you paint a ceiling white in a black room, the eye goes straight to the ceiling before noticing how striking the space is,” she says. Luxurious elements like the marble-look floor and brass-toned faucet enhance the elegant jewel box vibe.
Image: Donna Griffith / Styling: Ann Marie Favot
A black and white palette, square-tiled backsplash, shaker-style cabinetry and iconic furnishings blend perfectly in this modern and traditional space.
Armed with a wishlist a mile long, Toronto homeowners Meghan Mann and Mike Shannon took the renovation plunge last year. With the help of designers Vanessa Kwan and Ingrid Oomen of Qummunicate, they transformed their dysfunctional, dowdy kitchen into a stylish dream and fit everything they wanted into its compact 198-square-foot space. The open-concept design now features a work station, an eat-in nook and a peninsula that overlooks the dining area. Its classic-chic look with a contemporary edge not only complements the young couple’s style but also suits the 1910 house’s traditional architecture and its up-and-coming west Toronto neighbourhood’s trendy vibe.
Opening up the 11-by-18-foot kitchen to the rest of the main floor and replacing the back wall with a glass-panelled door and sidelights were the first steps in creating a more airy and light-filled space. The kitchen has a timeless aesthetic, with Shaker-style cabinetry, classic architectural details and a neutral palette, while a few of-the-moment touches, such as the brass hardware and pendant lights, keep it hip. “It’s a brick house with traditional details like beams and mouldings at the front, and we wanted to carry that essence into the kitchen,” says designer Vanessa Kwan.
A banquette serves as part of the casual eat-in area for the couple and their children, Sadie, 6, and Spencer, 2. It features storage in the form of legal-sized filing cabinets, with flush brass pulls that don’t get in the way of dangling feet. Finding a table that fit the space proved challenging, so homeowner Mike Shannon built the base himself and had a piece of glass cut for the top. The Eames chairs are a classic pick, and the chandelier provides sparkle and blends in with all the brass.
The kitchen was designed with family-friendly functionality top of mind: The white quartzite countertops are aesthetically similar to marble but are more durable and require less maintenance; the six-inch-square ceramic tiled backsplash, with its grey grout, is easy to keep clean; and the cork floors are great for kids because they’re soft underfoot and don’t scratch easily. For homeowner Meghan Mann, who works in software sales from home, the desk area (with a lower counter and two pencil drawers) was a must.
The black faucets and window frame above the sink create contrast yet establish continuity with the black-painted door at the back of the room. The dark elements, offering the kitchen a slightly industrial edge, are also a nod to the neighbourhood’s commercial architecture. “The area has a lot of old factory buildings, some converted into lofts or artists’ spaces,” says Meghan. “And they have those steel windows, so we wanted to echo that look in the kitchen.”
Curvy iconic shapes and trendy accents make this kitchen down-right covetable.
Round wood and marble serving board, Indigo, $38.
Michael Thonet beech era stool in Black, Design Within Reach, $365.
Cotton Soiree toss cushion in Natural with feather-down insert, CB2, $63.
Jason Wu for brizo mixed metal solna faucet in Matte Black, Masco Canada, $611.
Brass and glass Luna pendant light with shade in Clear, 12", Schoolhouse Electric, $269 US.
Cowhide Koldby rug in Brown, IKEA, $299.
Image: Stacey Brandford / Styling: Morgan Lindsay
Designer Maggie Burns revises the layout and lightens the palette of her rowhouse to make it feel remarkably roomier.
People love to complain about stairs. "My knees are shot – let's move to a bungalow," they grouse. But not Maggie Burns. I longed for stairs and a lawn," says the energetic 28-year-old designer and Toronto native. The sentiment is completely understandable when you consider she was living in one of those New York City apartments that are so cramped, you practically need a folding toothbrush.
That was 2015, and Maggie had just completed a one-year degree at the esteemed Parsons School of Design and was moving back to Toronto – all while simultaneously launching her own design firm, Maggie Richmond Design. One of the newly minted graduate’s earliest clients? Herself.
She had just purchased a charming century rowhouse in the hip Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood near Nadège, a French bakery and a favourite haunt (this girl has her priorities straight). “When I first saw the house, I fell in love with its location and its potential,” says Maggie. “But there was a lot of work to do! The home’s layout didn’t lend itself well to its narrowness.”
At only 10 feet wide and just shy of 1,200 square feet, the two-storey house was palatial by New York standards, but small if Maggie wanted to stretch out and entertain friends. Just the same, it had good bones – and, best of all, the stairs she so desired. The only problem was their location. “They were encased in drywall, so they looked heavy, and they were in the middle of the main floor, taking up almost a third of the space,” she recalls.
Plus, the stairs divided the dining and living rooms into two tiny boxes. So Maggie embarked on a six-month renovation to create a breezy open-concept space. She brightened the home and made it feel spacious with crisp white walls (in place of busy textured wallpaper) and light grey engineered wood floors (replacing dark cork).
In an ambitious effort that ended up costing nearly half her budget, Maggie tore down the staircase and replaced it with a stylishly streamlined version installed at the side of the living room. “The dramatic floating stairs became the focal point,” she says. The new steps also connect to the finished basement – previously a rental apartment that could only be accessed from an outside door.
To accommodate the change, Maggie also reconfigured the second floor, removing a third bedroom and inadvertently exposing a skylight over the stairs. "I've been told it's not a good idea in terms of resale to remove a bedroom, but I had to make way for the stairs," she says. Today, the skylight floods the main floor with light and, together with pale new floors, lends the illusion of more space, making this home an even further cry from her old cramped NYC quarters.
Though small and located at the front door, the living room feels open and airy because of the ultra-edited furniture selection. A low-slung armless sofa, portable wooden side chairs and a small angular side table keep things uncluttered and ease traffic flow.
The galley kitchen was in great shape when Maggie bought the house, so she left it intact. It came with high-end appliances and pretty crystal knobs on the doors. “I kept the original subway tile that runs along the walls, and added pendants [not shown] and pot lights for additional lighting,” she says.
Though it cost 40 percent of Maggie’s overall budget, relocating the staircase made a 100 percent improvement to her home’s layout.
Maggie nearly replaced the dark-hued front door, but decided to keep it after seeing how charming it looked in the space. Her dad created a stained glass window for the transom. “Its copper trim matches elements throughout the main floor,” she says.
A graphic punch of black in the quartet of retro Tulip chairs is emphasized by the splashy artwork. The mirror bounces light around the space and picks up the sheen in the soft grey floors.
A combined washer-dryer in the galley kitchen makes doing a quick load of laundry super convenient.
Relaxation reigns in the subdued bedroom, where a quilt and watery-hued toss cushions suggest a catnap. A glass lamp and monochromatic artwork keep the visual clutter at bay.
Maggie pulled together a light-filled office nook just outside her bedroom. The glossy streamlined desk, slatted rubber chair and casually leaning artwork create an understated vignette. The desk also serves as an extra drop-off spot for her laptop in the evenings – a smart reminder to maintain serene sleeping quarters and keep work separate.
A floating vanity and clean-lined mirror show off the Carrara marble floor and shower wall in the master bath. “Because I don’t have a lot of space – roughly 41 square feet – I had to be careful about the scale of each component,” says Maggie. The pared-back elements lend a serene quality. “It’s my favourite spot in the house,” she adds.
Despite all her hard work, Maggie recently sold her belove rowhouse to move in with her fiancé. And just in case you're curious, the resale value wasn't affected by the removal of a bedroom. To bring even more appeal to the home for the sale (which happened to coincide with our photo shoot), Maggie hired design firm Modern Staging Spaces to help her accessorize . Her house sold in a flash. With style like this, how could it not?
Chic dressing room.
We transform an attic space into a stylish dressing room on a ready-to-wear and an haute couture budget. Can you tell the difference?
1 Carl Robinson Edition 5 Reflect Edgware wallpaper in CB54400, Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics, $200 per double roll, through designers. 2 Large faux shagreen box in Seal Grey, Absolutely, $429. 3 Lacquered silver-plated brass Traditional Mirrored tray, Ethan Allen, $319. 4 Bernhardt Jet Set maple-veneered MDF Door cabinet with gold-leafed MDF base, Zilli Home Interiors, $1,349. 5 Hand-knotted bamboo silk Opulence rug in Silver, 8' x 10', Imperial Carpet and Home, $3,243. 6 Track-armed winged chaise longue with polyester Venice fabric in 61 and nailhead trim in Silver, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $2,220. 7 Designers Guild lambswool-blend Zari Graphite throw in Grey, Putti Fine Furnishings, $295. 8 Bonaldo painted-steel Fortuny side table in Glossy White, Suite 22 Interiors, $500. 9 Vintage Italian ornate carved gilded-wood mirror, Carrocel, $1,850.
1 Carl Robinson Edition 9 Romantique Ida wallpaper in CB90009, Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics, $100 per double roll, through designers. 2 Medium lacquered-wood Eggshell Inlay box with mosaic mallard eggshell pieces and crackle finish, Ethan Allen, $159. 3 Painted-aluminum tray, HomeSense, $13. 4 Particleboard Sektion wall cabinet in White, 36" x 15" x 30", IKEA, $55; fibreboard Ringhult doors in High Gloss White (customized), 18" x 30", IKEA, $84 each; birch Skäralid base (customized), 15" x 30", IKEA, $59. 5 Hand-knotted wool and bamboo silk Atrium rug in C6 Beige, 8' x 10', Imperial Carpet and Home, $1,317. 6 Stocksund chaise longue with cotton-blend Nolhaga fabric in Gray-Beige and stained-beech legs in Black, IKEA, $639. 7 Klippan lambswool Samba throw in Grey, Likely General, $175. 8 Lacquered painted-rubberwood Lamsa side table in White, Jysk, $70. 9 Gilded cast-resin Chinoiserie mirror in Gold, Ethan Allen, $1,489.
Any budget can get in some storage, especially if it's as glam as these cabinets. Keeping a small area, like this attic, clean and organized is the key to enjoying the space so make sure it's kept that way with a stylish piece for a fabulous room. High (left): Bernhardt Jet Set maple-veneered MDF Door cabinet with gold-leafed MDF base, Zilli Home Interiors, $1,349. Low (right): Particleboard Sektion wall cabinet in White, 36" x 15" x 30", IKEA, $55; fibreboard Ringhult doors in High Gloss White (customized), 18" x 30", IKEA, $84 each; birch Skäralid base (customized), 15" x 30", IKEA, $59.
This dressing room is meant to make getting ready feel like the best part of your day. But if the morning is moving slow, or you need a break to scroll through Instagram, take a quick lounge on the perfect seat to keep you feeling like a glamorous gal. High (left): Track-armed winged chaise longue with polyester Venice fabric in 61 and nailhead trim in Silver, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $2,220. Low (right): Stocksund chaise longue with cotton-blend Nolhaga fabric in Gray-Beige and stained-beech legs in Black, IKEA, $639.
Who could even imagine leaving the house without a quick look in the mirror? Whether you're feeling the sleepy Sundays or you're pumped for TGIF this mirror will reassure you that you're looking (and should be feeling) stylish. High (left): Vintage Italian ornate carved gilded-wood mirror, Carrocel, $1,850. Low (right): Gilded cast-resin Chinoiserie mirror in Gold, Ethan Allen, $1,489.
Function over style? Why not have both? This side table is the perfect addition to any room really, but we love it for displaying flowers, holding your morning coffee or keeping your favourite book close by. High (left): Bonaldo painted-steel Fortuny side table in Glossy White, Suite 22 Interiors, $500. Low (right): Lacquered painted-rubberwood Lamsa side table in White, Jysk, $70.
Every house (and nearly every room) needs a vanity tray to keep things looking tidy, organized and trendy. Staying organized is the easiest way to impress so toss perfume bottles, jewellery and little trinkets to keep track of your every day essentials. High (left): Lacquered silver-plated brass Traditional Mirrored tray, Ethan Allen, $319. Low (right): Painted-aluminum tray, HomeSense, $13.
If you know what you want to make your room just right, do it! Furniture, like cabinets, may come with hardware and extra accessories, but that's merely a suggestion. Head out and find the perfect accessories to complete the look and the room. High (left): Bernhardt Jet Set maple-veneered MDF Door cabinet with gold-leafed MDF base, Zilli Home Interiors, $1,349. Low (right): Rings, screw eyes, washers and grommets, The Home Depot, $15. See how to make this cabinet and customize it yourself here.
Our dressing room get its punch from the sloped ceiling's bold floral wallpaper. You can mimic this feature, whether you're looking to splurge or save. High Carl Robinson Edition 5 Reflect Edgware in CB54400, Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics, $200 per double roll, through designers. Medium Anna French Wild Flora Bouquet in Gold, Thibaut, $163 per double roll, through designers. Low Carl Robinson Edition 9 Romantique Ida in CB90009, Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics, $100 per double roll, through designers.
Skip art in your dressing room – use your best-loved shoes instead, employing floating shelves and picture ledges as display spaces. The pieces come in different sizes, which makes them ideal for an irregular-shaped wall like this one. Particleboard Lack SHELVES, 75", IKEA, $30 each. Fibreboard Mosslanda picture ledges, IKEA, from $13. Mirrored box, HomeSense, $25. Laquered-wood Mid-Century jewellery box in White Lacquer, 15" x 11" x 8", West Elm, $239.