Industrial loft design with luxe details and an edgy appeal
Brimming with luxurious materials and industrial swagger, an edgy-meets-elegant makeover sees the union of two lofts.
In sitcoms, there’s always the jokester perpetually getting locked out of his apartment in the hallway wearing socks – or worse, far less. In real life, however, hallway humour is not so funny. Take this husband and wife who had to go out to the corridor every time they needed something from next door. They own (and inhabit) adjacent lofts in Toronto’s historic Merchandise Building. Commensurate with early 20th-century Chicago-style architecture, the building has hefty bones, high ceilings and factory windows – enthralling features that meant moving elsewhere to gain more space was out of the question. “Besides, the idea was always to merge the two units,” says the husband, joking, “but in the meantime, we had the best guest suite in the city.”
After owning the lofts for three years, the professional pair, who has a four-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, finally decided to fuse the 1,763- and 1,372-square-foot spaces. To bring the project from concept to fruition, they collaborated with Croma Design’s savvy Ryan Martin and Amy Kent. Building restrictions only allowed for a small opening between the suites, which was achieved by removing the kitchen and a small laundry closet from one unit, as well as reconfiguring the master bedroom. But it worked out perfectly. “It resulted in two separate zones: one for the family to relax in, the other for entertaining,” explains Amy. Toys are relegated to the family room in one unit, while in the other, the slick living room with its stand-out hot-rolled-steel fireplace is enjoyed when the adults are entertaining.
In the living room of this Toronto loft designed by Ryan Martin and Amy Kent of Croma Design, a standout fireplace surround made from 12 feet of hot-rolled steel creates architectural drama. Modern furnishings, hits of brass and pared-back artwork establish a look that’s at once livable and luxurious.
The dining room’s existing bar niche was updated with a Caesarstone-topped cabinet and upper shelves. An artistic take on utilitarian fluorescents over the dining table, the light fixture offers striking sculptural presence – but no harshness. “It uses LED bulbs, so it emits a warm glow,” says Amy.
The loft’s decor is all about sharp contrast and cohesion, exemplified in the long steel shelves that echo the steel-based dining table, as well as the doors of the nine-foot-long sideboard, which are the same as the ones used for the kitchen cabinetry.
The living room’s custom bookcases were so tall the contractor had to build them off-site and stack them here in components – but the extra effort was worth it. They’re a huge improvement from the cluttered stand-alones that once lived in the loft.
The weight of the kitchen’s darkness is balanced by the light and airy envelope around it, from the white surrounding walls and ceiling to the glass pendant lights. The island is equipped with open shelves to store cookbooks, which offer a hint of colour.
“We chose Caesarstone countertops because they’re durable and easy to maintain, which is great for this family, who is constantly trying out new recipes from their many cookbooks,” says Amy.
These asiago puffs are simple to make and taste delicious.
A delicious appetizer with only four ingredients means less time in the kitchen!
1 Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface to form an 8" square about 1/4" thick. Trim to straighten the edges. Cut the pastry into sixteen 2" squares and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with waxed paper and refrigerate while the filling is prepared.
2 Add the sausage meat to a large bowl. Add 23 of the Asiago and all of the diced artichokes and mix by hand to combine. Shape into 16 walnut-sized balls and flatten each slightly. Place the remainder of the Asiago on a plate and roll each meatball in the cheese to coat. Place one meatball on top of each piece of pastry.
3 Bring the four corners of each pastry square together in the centre over the meatball to form a parcel with the edges almost touching. Press down to seal. Refrigerate the parcels for 20 minutes to firm.
4 Heat the oven to 400°F. Bake the puffs until the sausage is cooked through and the pastry is golden and puffed, about 25 minutes; serve warm.
Prep & cook time: 1 hour
Michael Buble's holiday home
Canadian icon Michael Bublé invites us into his Vancouver home as he gets ready to celebrate the season in style.
If it were up to Michael Buble’s mom, her son’s music – and only her son’s music – would accompany their family Christmases. But since the Juno and Grammy award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter does, indeed, get a say, Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley are afforded lots of airtime, too. “We listen to everything from Mariah Carey to Boney M,” says Michael, explaining the obvious: Music plays a huge part in his holidays.
Once a year, this fabulous foursome – Christmas, music, family and food – comes together in a Buble bash that lasts a couple of days and sees a flood of loved ones visiting from all over the world, including South Africa, Argentina, London and L.A. Upstairs, his music room plays host to a sweet piano-accompanied singalong. And downstairs? “Our basement turns into a sort of salsa club,” says Michael. They move aside the arcade basketball, dome hockey and foosball games (“It’s my 12-year-old-boy-style man cave,” he says with a laugh) to accommodate the DJ and dance floor. “We eat too much, we drink too much – it’s like an old-school Hollywood party.”
Although he admits it may sound cliche, Michael likes giving more than he does getting. “Whether it’s compliments or gifts, receiving them can make me feel a bit embarrassed and shy,” he says. So, in terms of showering his wife with presents, he’s a pro romantic. “But I have a poor sense of occasion. I don’t save gifts for Christmas or Valentine’s Day,” he explains. Case in point: When he’s going to be out of town for a while, Michael will hide little notes around the house, tucking them in shoes, toiletries, drawers, even the diaper bag – “I want to remind her that I’m thinking of her,” he says.
The house’s elegant black, white and gold palette has a sophisticated charm that suits this debonair songster’s vocal style. Above the tray table in the hallway is another piece from Michael’s collection of artwork – a beautiful collage of broken records created by his brother-in-law.
You’d be surprised to know that singer-songwriter Michael Buble has only one of his awards on display at his house – and even that’s a fluke. He brought it home from the office to show a friend and has yet to return it. What he takes more pride in is his meaningful collection of artwork, which includes a cartoon by Jann Arden and a painting by Tony Bennett. But one of his favourite pieces is a photograph of Chet Baker (hanging above the fireplace in his living room) by the great William Claxton, who shot the cover for one of Michael’s albums.
A voluminous cedar garland is filled out with eucalyptus leaves and geometric silver ornaments.
Layers of neutrals are grounded with graphic hits of black and punched up with fresh greenery in the living room.
A simple mirror stylishly frames a leafy green wreath.
Presents are personalized with a band of sheet music secured with a delicate satin bow. Then the presents are nestled in a bowl of ball ornaments for the perfect way to add some flair under the tree.
The couple, who has a two-year-old son named Noah, announced earlier this year that they’re expecting another child, and Michael can’t wait to share the holiday traditions that he enjoyed when he was young. “My dad and I would get the lights out of the attic and string them up outside, while my mom and sisters would decorate the inside. Then we’d gather around the Christmas tree and put the star topper on together: very Norman Rockwell,” he says. “Of course that’s the way I remember it – I’m sure I’ve forgotten the fighting and hair-pulling with my sisters.”
With bold black and white striped gift wrap, sometimes a touch of cedar is all you need as a topper.
The party is set to sound even better this holiday, thanks to last year’s gift from Michael’s wife, actor Luisana Lopilato: “When it was time to open my present, I could hear her telling me that she loved me very much, adored having a child with me and was thrilled to be spending another Christmas with me...but I didn’t understand why her voice was audible throughout the whole house,” he says. “She’d had a Sonos sound system installed – and I had no idea. It was really special.”
And then there’s the food. Michael has an Italian extended family and an Argentinian wife, so the smorgasbord often stretches from the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes to risotto and empanadas. “The whole house smells amazing,” says Michael, who’s always thrilled to host his family and friends under his Vancouver roof.
Delicate white peonies arranged in a dome shape look like a bowl of little white snowballs.
Black table linens paired with gold-toned flatware and subtly gold-edged dishware, topped with a simple handwritten place card and sprig of eucalyptus.
Black and white sugar cookies echo the graphic palette throughout the house, becoming the most stylish (and delicious) desserts around.
Bow-tied gingerbread Bubles by Butter Baked Goods are a classy take on the traditional cookies
Icing sugar-dusted chocolate cookies served up on a white star plate are festive yet understated, while underscoring the black and white scheme.
Instead of some classic jingle bells on display, you’ll find pieces like this harmonica from Michael’s music room, where he spends lots of time jamming with friends and writing songs.
While on set, Michael was singing classic Christmas carols and keeping spirits bright for our team. And what winter wonderland Christmas shoot would be complete without his signature bowties?
A fresh seaside-chic lake house
This cozy lake house in Port Carling, Ont., boasts a fresh seaside-chic vibe while paying homage to old-school Muskoka.
Nestled on the south shore of Lake Rosseau in Port Carlin, Ont., this 6,800-square-foot six-bedroom house is decorated the way one would dress when visiting: in a crisp Polo Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt and comfortable, well-worn chinos paired with Sperry Top-Siders. It's a timeless look that's coastal, casual and effortlessly chic with a neutral palette at its core.
"The homeowners wanted to capture that warm, windswept lake house aesthetic but with a relaxed, cozy Muskoka feel for their young family of four," says Cory DeFrancisco of Mukoka Living Interiors, who designed and built the home from scratch, finishing in 2013.
Like a friendly smile and a firm handshake, the entryway makes a confident and inviting introduction to the home.
"A lot of old cottages have those tunnelling hallways in their guest cottage or service quarters, and this beadboard wall treatment references that," says builder and designer Cory DeFrancisco.
This small boathouse sunroom is literally right on Ontario's Lake Rosseau: On windy days, you can feel waves crashing up through the floorboards.
"We took up 90 percent of the wall with windows," says Cory of the gorgeous great room, where the ceiling's oak beams guide your eye directly to the view. "The overstuffed sofas are insanely comfortable," he adds. "They're slipcovered in high-quality Belgian linen that gets softer with each wash.
Though the spacious kitchen is crisp, white and polished, simple details, such as the grain of the reclaimed-oak floors and the texture of the brush strokes on the hand-painted cabinetry, keep it humble and homey. "It's a new take on a traditional cottage kitchen, with all the modern amenities," says Cory.
A big weathered farmhouse table paired with slipcovered seating and sophisticated lighting that doesn't block the view equals a dining room with easy elegance. But the best feature of this space is that, with the doors open, you really feel like you're eating alfresco.
Even though this home is grand, the family who lives here wanted an overall feeling of togetherness, so Cory kept it largely open concept.
The west-facing Muskoka room, with wall-to-wall windows, is so bright that it can pull off the charcoal walls. "The darkness acts as an anchor, while the light that shines in highlights the furnishings," explains Cory. The modular sectional is meant for the outdoors (so go ahead, get it wet) and can be reconfigured when company comes to create multiple sitting areas.
The whole master bedroom is very generous, but its sleeping area is quite small. In it, you'll find only an upholstered bed, two small side tables and a 180-degree view of the water.
The large window behidn the free-standing bathtub overlooks a garden and granite. "It's hard to make boulders sound nice," says Cory with a laugh, "but it's a beautiful view."
"All of those elements are, I think, what makes it feel authentic to Muskoka. There's nothing ornate in the whole place," says Cory. And just 35 feet away, in the boathouse, the look is much the same. The palette is almost all white and the dress code is bathing suits - after all, the lake's right there. Take one step out the door, and jump right in. The water's perfect.