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A simple and charming Christmas makeover
In the quaint town of Lakefield, Ont., a shop owner celebrates the season in a subtle yet cozy way.
As a designer and furniture shop owner, Lisa Besseling admits that her house has been known to fall victim to experimentation. Operating Stony Lake Furniture Co. in her hometown of Lakefield, Ont., means she has ready access to the store’s comfortable and stylish furnishings and accessories. But after four years in the 2,800-square-foot house she shares with her husband, Marlon Hazlewood, and their dog, Owen, Lisa has finally settled on a look she loves. “It used to feel like everything in our home was for sale,” she says. “I once even sold a sofa from under Marlon!
After some extensive cosmetic upgrades to the space, the style Lisa has cultivated is a modern take on country with plenty of warmth. The spare, almost Scandinavian look forms a neutral backdrop perfect for Christmastime, when she likes to keep things simple with fresh greenery punctuated by hits of red. “To be honest, I wasn’t a big Christmas person before we owned this place, so I prefer a fairly minimal approach to holiday decorating,” she confesses. “But the tree keeps getting bigger every year.”
Pops of red (including the locally made red dock chair) in the otherwise crisp white entryway announce the holidays. The original banister is festooned with abundant natural greenery.
In this entryway vignette, found moose antlers and a pine wreath sit atop a vintage dresser and set the tone for the country Christmas vibe throughout.
The living room, with its wood-burning fireplace, is the perfect cozy spot for gathering in the winter. The spruce Christmas tree is courtesy of a friend who lives on a former tree farm.
Although the sunroom is the smallest space in the house, “It’s definitely our favourite,” says homeowner Lisa Besseling, pictured here with her husband, Marlon Hazlewood, and their dog, Owen.
Lisa adores the dining room’s chandelier for its all-season appeal. The live-edge black walnut table was made by a local craftsman.
In the kitchen, the tidy little wood-burning stove and the exposed chimney and ductwork give the room rustic country charm.
Since the dining table is wooden with pinecones and green accents, these brightly coloured napkins add a seasonal touch to make the table inviting for a family dinner.
The sunroom’s antique sled adorned with a bunch of fresh greenery is a natural wintry accent.
In the guest room, an antique brass bed frame layered with plush patterned bedding makes a cozy retreat for holiday visitors. A few festive touches provide additional cheer.
Lisa painted the sunroom’s original cinder-block wall white and had cushions and slipcovers made for a pair of plywood storage boxes, which now act as comfy benches to curl up on. The stump stools serve as side tables or extra seating.
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A kitchen with subtle contrasts and country character.
Designer Ali Budd gives a Toronto couple the best of both worlds: a family- (and dog-) friendly home that boasts modern sensibility as well as country flair.
When the couple enlisted Ali Budd, the designer asked Michele to provide photos of what she loved and didn’t like. A binder full of clippings verified that Michele prefers clean lines and all things cottage. “The challenge was giving them something that feels fresh and contemporary and appropriate for the city but at the same time has that cottagey country vibe,” says Ali.
An addition on the back of the house allowed homeowners Michele Foster and Aaron Harlang to expand the small kitchen, which now features an eat-in area with a child-friendly faux-leather-upholstered banquette. To enhance the room’s visual flow, the table was made from the same quartz as the countertops. The lantern-style pendant light complements the kitchen’s modern-country aesthetic. “To me, a lantern is quintessentially country, but this one is done in a more contemporary style,” says designer Ali Budd.
Painting the island pale grey gives the all-white kitchen a distinctive touch. The black metal pendant lights and farmhouse-style stools lend contrast and country character.
The inset marble mosaic backsplash tiles surrounded by decorative tile trim create a pretty focal point above the range in the kitchen. “I used the same marble as the subway tiles so it wouldn’t look too busy,” says Ali. Glass-fronted doors add airiness and break up the expanse of white cabinetry.
Opening up the main floor was the first step in creating an airy, functional space for the young family. And an 800-square-foot three-storey addition provided ample room to expand the small, outdated kitchen. “I would periodically use our oven for storage before,” says Michele. “We also had a little table that only sat two people.” Now the kitchen boasts a large eat-in area defined by a built-in banquette, which seats about five people and offers plenty of drawer space.
The kitchen’s eat-in area was the perfect spot to subtly inject a bit of red. “Michele wanted to add it somewhere but was afraid of committing to it,” says Ali. “So I thought that was a great place to put in a little pop because it’s not front and centre.”
Durable indoor-outdoor striped fabric covering the family room’s armchairs adds a bit of whimsy and fun. The custom-made barnboard coffee table is both rustic and polished.
That same rustic-meets-clean-lined aesthetic is carried throughout the main floor. In the dining room, a polished live-edge black walnut dining table is paired with classic linen-upholstered chairs. The family room is designed for lounging, with a sleek sectional and barnboard coffee table. All textiles, including the striped armchair fabric, pass the pug-hair test. “I tested about 20 fabric samples on one of my own pugs to see which showed the least amount of hair,” says Ali.
A bench and rug define the entryway, which is open to the rest of the main floor. Wainscotting along the staircase adds architectural character. “Michele wanted it somewhere, and because there’s not a lot of wall space on the main level, we installed it up the stairs,” says Ali.