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.”