A small Toronto bachelor pad is transformed into a modern masculine retreat.
A carte blanche mandate, a modest budget and a lot of trust transform a small Toronto bachelor pad into a modern masculine retreat.
Take one young man, add a brand new condo and zero furniture, and you’ve got one empty bachelor pad. “When I first moved in, I put the television on the floor and used lawn chairs as furniture,” says homeowner Josh Isaacman of the small two bedroom Toronto condo he bought last year. Clean, contemporary finishes, such as espresso-stained hardwood floors, and a sleek kitchen with a combination of light and dark kitchen cabinetry, meant the space was a blank canvas just waiting for the right artist.
In pursuit of something fresh, modern and masculine, Josh hired designer Stacey Cohen to help choose furniture for the condo. But she did way more than just furnish and decorate. “Stacey came in and had a great eye for everything; she just did it all,” says Josh.
At only 750 square feet, the condo needed to be functional above all else. "Lack of storage was one of the biggest challenges in the space," says Stacey.To address this, the designer took advantage of the 10-foot-high ceilings, using a combination of wall-mounted pieces to create storage and accentuate the height.
Every home entryway, no matter how tiny, needs a mirror, a spot to drop keys and a place to perch while putting on shoes. Stacey managed to squeeze in all three elements into a seriously small footprint.
Designer Stacey Cohen in the 750-square-foot masculine modern condo she designed for homeowner Josh Isaacman.
Sleek storage cabinets mounted on the back-painted glass wall in the living room hide tech gear and other belongings. Small square ottomans tuck away underneath and can be pulled out to offer more seating.
She also created inexpensive artwork decor for Josh based on his interests, such as sports and architecture.
In order to maximize seating, Stacey had the grey sectional sofa custom made to fit one corner of the living area.
Josh uses the condo’s second bedroom as a home office. A custom-made glass desk and slim shelving units give the small room the illusion of more space. The desk is made of Starphire glass, which has a clear blue tint instead of the usual greenish cast.
In lieu of a designated dining area, the kitchen’s breakfast counter saves precious floor space for more lounge-style seating. The T-back metal stools give the room industrial edge.
The gleaming glass wall and custom bed create a focal point in the master bedroom. Wall-mounted storage cabinets from IKEA, nightstands from CB2 and other off-the-rack purchases offset these more expensive elements.
The cool grey palette is carried from the rest of the condo into the private spaces.
When the modern Toronto condo was complete and furnished, Josh had no regrets about giving Stacey carte blanche. “She really understood my taste without me even giving her much direction,” says Josh.
SAVE: 1 Storage Cabinets: Affordable big-box storage cabinets are the key to maintaining order in the small space. 2 Frames: Inexpensive personalized artwork in affordable IKEA frames has a high-end gallery look. SPLURGE: 3 Glass walls: Custom back-painted glass walls add architechtural interest to this new-build condo. 4 Sectional: Another custom piece, the sectional couch fits perfectly in the living room and offers ample seating.
Tour this lovely cottage on Lake Simcoe!
A designer lends her expertise to help a couple resolve a colourful debate over the scheme for their family cottage.
"He wanted dark tones and a woodsy Aspen vibe. I wanted everything white with clean lines." The “he” referred to is the husband, the “I” speaking is the wife, and in terms of their decor preferences for this new-build 4,900-square-foot cottage overlooking Lake Simcoe in Innisfil, Ont., they were clearly at odds. But the Toronto-based couple, who has a seven-year-old daughter, a five-year-old son and a Samoyed puppy, did agree on one thing: The design had to be practical. And after many reassurances on the wife’s part that her vision could be inviting and relaxing, she says, “My husband eventually gave me free rein. I wanted a gorgeous unfussy space that was easy to maintain.”
To get the look, she turned to Lidia van Zyl, a designer based in Barrie, Ont., who’s well known for decorating waterfront properties in the area. “When I was hired in 2014, the cottage was in its planning stage,” says Lidia. “This allowed us to pore over the plans and confirm almost every detail before the walls went up.” The walls themselves played a crucial role in setting the tone for the space. “Honouring the husband’s preference for a traditional look, I incorporated shiplap into the mix,” says Lidia. The wooden boards, which were most often used in the construction of homes, were applied horizontally in the kitchen, powder room, foyer and master bedroom. “Shiplap, even when painted white, provides a rustic contrast to drywall and has an informal feel that really adds to the casual cottage vibe,” says the designer.
While the scheme may be all white, it’s anything but stark. “The key to decorating with white is to use different shades of it,” says Lidia. “If you look closely, you’ll see the walls are a crisp white, while the beams are coated with a warmer shade.” Wide-plank pale hickory flooring completes the airy backdrop, which Lidia chose to punctuate with bold hits of black. “I love contrast, so I added black accessories to almost every room,” she says. Lidia extended this theme to the furniture as well and, with the kids and puppy in mind, paid specific attention to practicality. “The grey sofas in the living room are covered with indoor-outdoor fabric, so they’re stain resistant and easy to clean,” she says. “And some of the pieces, such as the living room coffee table and foyer console, are crafted from steel, so they’re pretty much damage-proof.” She also introduced a few well-placed antiques throughout the cottage to create interesting tension between old and new.
The 18-month process of building and decorating netted a year-round family retreat that Lidia describes as “refined but rustic.” And even though the wife had total control, she did make an effort to include her husband – sort of. She says: “He really wanted dark floors, but even he conceded the light ones looked better. So I let him think he helped with that decision in a roundabout way. Now we’re all happy!”
Accessories like the rope-hung mirrors and the lantern-style pendant lights make this practical space feel decorated. “I don’t like to take risks when decorating,” says one of the homeowners, “but I did want to mix things up in the kitchen so it didn’t read as plain.”
Designer Lidia van Zyl played the natural tones of wood and stone against sleek black accents to create character in the living room. The tall armoire holds things like games, books and blankets, while the bare floor, a practical option, is easy to clean. A trio of metal sculptures above the reclaimed wood mantel is a departure from the expected mirror or artwork.
In the foyer, the staircase’s natural wood handrail and treads were a purposeful choice. “If we had painted them black, it would have drawn the eye up the stairs as opposed to straight through the cottage to the lake,” says Lidia.
A mix of neutral tones creates subtle depth in the dining area. “The table and chairs appear white at first glance, but they’re actually a soft shade of grey,” says Lidia. the chandelier, painted white to downplay its ornate shape, illuminates everything from meals to crafts.
“This cottage always makes me smile,” says one of the homeowners. “It’s an amazing feeling to open the front door to beautiful surroundings.” the stone skirting – a concession to the aspen look the husband wanted – ties in nicely with the herringbone brick walkway.
The artful arrangement of dark-hued antiques in an all-white area of the living room makes a graphic statement. the antlers are a family heirloom.
“I love a white kitchen because I don’t like distractions when I’m cooking,” says one of the homeowners, “and I can also see what needs to be cleaned.” low-maintenance Caesarstone countertops and a glossy tiled backsplash on the range wall make cleanup even easier. the massive island is outfitted with cupboards that hold cottage necessities, such as candles, batteries and a tool kit.
While the silhouette of the chandelier in the master bedroom is traditional, its wooden beads give it an earthy appeal that suits a cottage. the wicker basket, sisal rug and rustic artwork (it’s made of wood and says “I Love Us”) echo that earthiness, which is tempered by the black furniture.
Hooks and baskets are enough to keep the mud room in order since the basement has ample storage. The built-in bench always comes in handy.
Like the rest of the cottage, the powder room is energized with hits of black. “I love the graphic mosaic-look floor here,” says Lidia. “It’s actually 24-by-24-inch tiles, and they have just the right amount of pattern for a small space.” Vintage racquets used as informal artwork perfectly fit the laid- back vibe of this family retreat.
Get ready for the month ahead with our helpful to-do list!
Get ready for the month ahead with our helpful to-do list!
Purge, declutter and make your home serene and inviting for fall.
The lazy days of summer are ending, and no matter how many years it's been since you last filled a backpack with textbooks, back-to-school is in the air, and with it a feeling that it's time to reorganize for fall. Get started with these 10 ideas for purging, decluttering and making your home serene and inviting.
1 Cut the clutter
Getting organized is a significantly easier task when there's less stuff to deal with. So before tackling bigger projects, sweep through your house and clear out any clutter that's accumulated while you've been outdoors enjoying the hot and sunny weather.
2 Start your fall garden clean-up
After a long summer enjoying your garden, it's time to start preparing it for the winter chill. Read our suggestions for mid-September garden chores, set aside a few hours on a sunny afternoon and get started!
3 Organize the broom closet
Your household chores will go a lot faster once your cleaning supplies are under control. Check out our suggestions for a clutter-free broom closet -- including organization ideas for those of us without one!
4 Get a head start on holiday correspondence
It may only be September, but it won't be long before it's time to decorate and prepare for the holiday season. One thing you can get out of the way right now is organizing your stationery and writing supplies. Make sure your address book is up to date and plan ahead for buying stamps, cards and invitations.
5 Prep the front hall closet for winter coats
With the fall fashion season comes a closet full of coats, whether they're new purchases or taken out of storage and dry-cleaned. Don't be caught scrambling for a coat on the first chilly morning of autumn! Get organized ahead of time with our 6 solutions for front hall closets.
6 Catalogue the summer's photos
Whether your camera is digital or old-fashioned, if you want to enjoy your summer photos come fall and winter, they need to be organized. We've got solutions for both your boxes and envelopes full of photos and the files on your computer.
7 Focus on clean air
As the weather gets cooler and you keep windows open less often, your home will be getting less and less fresh air from outside. Help keep indoor air quality high by clearing chemicals (try switching to biodegradable cleaning products) and investing in a few new houseplants -- English ivy, peace lilies and gerbera daisies are top picks for cleaning indoor air of pollutants.
8 Pet peeves begone!
Pick one thing (or more!) in your house that drives you crazy -- whether it be the plastic containers always falling off the kitchen shelves or the shoes that pile up in the entryway -- and fix it. Then sit on the couch with a cup of tea and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
9 Get started on fall entertaining
As patio party season ends, the time for more formal indoor entertaining begins. But don't hesitate to throw a few last al fresco parties if the weather holds up! Pick up a few new cookbooks and start testing recipes, and then work on invitations for your next dinner party.
10 Plan your next project
From a major kitchen reno to a paint touch-up in the guest bedroom, any home project will go smoother if it's well planned. Even if you're still in the dreaming stage, that's no reason not to plan! Pick up some books and magazines for inspiration and spend a morning with them and a cup or two of coffee -- and a notebook to jot down ideas!
10 things that are making your home ugly and how to fix them
We've gathered 10 great tips to elevate your space from dowdy to dreamy.
When it comes to our personal appearance, we usually know what’s making us – we won’t say ugly – a little less confident than usual, and we know the fix. A ragged nail means it’s time to dig out the file and clippers. Chipped polish means it’s time to freshen up that manicure. Unruly hair calls for a visit to the hairstylist or barbershop. And so it goes.
But in our homes we can sometimes forget the little things that make a big, stylish impression. Ironically, it’s quite often small, changeable things that can make a big impact and elevate a room from dowdy to dreamy.
We’ve seen dated (and we mean seriously dated) apartment rentals go glam with the addition of the right paint, sofa and accessories. We’ve seen boring boxy bedrooms come to life with a beautiful DIY headboard and fresh new bedding. We’ve seen entrances go from messy to marvellous. It can be done, but you’ve got to be ruthless in tackling the ugly with elbow grease and a little ingenuity to make way for fresh, clean style.
Shoes all over the floor, torn-open mail (utility bills, of course) strewn about, keys and random bits and bobs like lost buttons, and empty gadget boxes on your entryway console are just plain ugly. The fix: The entryway is supposed to be a welcome and tidy place, which is good news. All you really need to do above all else is tidy things up, which doesn’t take that long. It also doesn’t cost anything to neatly line up shoes, recycle boxes and envelopes, and give a console and entryway a dusting. A clean entryway with everything in its place is a must.
Chances are your bedroom walls are in pretty good nick, they are typically low-traffic areas and the paint can stay impeccable for years. But in the living room and dining room and particularly the kitchen, that is not usually the case. If you think walls with dirty streaks or scratches from chairs don’t look that bad, think again. They’re really taking your home’s looks down a notch. Walls also include light switch covers, and nothing is uglier than visible dirt around them. The fix: For a little bit of dirt or grime or even oil, sometimes a good cleaning is all that’s needed. Many paints can stand up to being washed with cleaners, but you can check with a paint store or you can spot test before you try cleaning it up. If the dirt, marks and gouges are everywhere, there’s no getting around it, it’s time for a paint job. Fresh paint makes a vintage-inspired home look fresh and new.
Isn’t it funny how just about anything you bake or roast smells great, from cakes to vegetables, whereas anything you fry, even if it’s as yummy as donuts, smells pretty terrible? And let’s not even get into pet odours. Unwanted smells get into your upholstery, from drapes to sofas to rugs, and the worst part is sometimes you get used to them so you can’t even detect them. Ask a family member or a very honest friend to give you his or her unvarnished opinion on what they smell at your home. The fix: If you’ve got lingering food, pet or just stale smells going on in your home, you’ve got a few fixes available. More often than not, food smells need to be rectified by investing in a good, outdoor-venting fan over the cooktop. Of course, that’s not always possible in which case you’ll have to be diligent in airing out the kitchen by opening windows after you’ve been cooking. Need a quick cover up for a cocktail party? Try a home fragrance solution.
Whether it’s souvenirs, memorabilia, or just random stuff you’ve collected over the years, your collection of objects might be too much, and it might be making your shelves, bookcases and mantel ugly. The fix: Editing is easier said than done, so try boxing up the items on your busy shelf or mantel and live with it for a week. Then decide what you truly miss and what just needs to be put in storage or given away. The living room shelf in Ann Marie Favot’s home is strikingly simple in all-white.
You know when your bathroom is dingy and needs renovating, and is just plain ugly – we don’t need to give you a blow-by-blow account here. But don’t worry, we’re also not going to tell you to renovate your bathroom. Truth is, we’ve seen bathrooms in rental apartments go from grungy to glam, all with the help of a deep clean and carefully chosen accessories. The fix: Clean, clean and clean some more. That means grout, fixtures, floors and walls. Once that’s done, really step back and assess what’s making everything dingy. If it’s a dark space, think about getting a fresh white shower curtain and towels and even a white orchid to enliven the room. Hide all unnecessary bottles and toothpaste containers and everything else while you’re at it and you’ll see how much better the space looks. Your bathroom might never be as glamazonian as this one, but you can help it along by keeping it tidy and choosing crisp white towels.
If you watch home renovation TV shows, you’ll know that outdated kitchens are always high on an owner’s must-destroy list. And yes, they can be really ugly and detract from a home. But a renovation isn’t always in the cards or budget, in which case, you’ll have to figure out how to live with cabinetry and surfaces that have seen better days. The fix: Embrace the kitchen for what it is: you’re not going to make a super-modern kitchen out of a 1960s-era setup. So if it’s vintage-y or cottage-y right now, find a way to enhance that charm. Paint ugly wood cabinetry. Make the best of an old countertop by making it sparkling clean. Add some bright and coordinated accessories, et voila. Painted cabinetry adds immense charm to a cottage kitchen.
A bedroom, especially in new-build homes, tends to be a basic, bland white box. The reasons for this are often practical – a plain box of a room will be easy to place a bed in (no weird angles) with plenty of room left over for side tables and a dresser or drawers. But yes, it can be rather blah and lackluster. The fix: If the walls are white you don’t even have to paint them, you can work with this most versatile of shades. The secret is texture. A tufted headboard, patterned bedspread and layered textiles will bring the beauty to a bedroom. Textures and layers contribute to a stylish, fresh and airy bedroom.
There is a certain aesthetic that makes bare walls the best choice, but for many other homes, it just makes it look like you’ve never really moved in. And looking like you are about to flee the premises is never an attractive quality in a home. The fix: You can’t go wrong in terms of satisfaction if you stick to displaying art and photography that means something to you. How to do it artfully is another matter. When in doubt, stick to frames of the same colour and type (the size can differ), but if you’re more adventurous (and your decor is too) create a display wall of mismatched frames. A collection of antique maps was deliberately framed and matted differently in this gallery.
Has your dining room become a catch-all for everything in your home? Gifts piled up for weeks waiting to be wrapped. Your desktop computer and work papers setting up residence. If making your home beautiful is high on your priority list, it’s time to rethink this strategy. There’s a reason you don’t see dining rooms in the pages of decor magazines all covered with half-empty shopping bags, bills, car keys and stray electronic chargers. It’s because it’s ugly. The fix: You need to make some hard decisions, but they’re not necessarily expensive or tough-to-execute ones. Firstly, you’ll want to move that desktop computer off your dining table – which might mean putting it in the kitchen or bedroom, or trading it for a laptop. Think about why junk is accumulating on your dining room table and fix the underlying causes. It’s as simple as that. A dedicated dining room table is an inviting and relaxing space.
A backyard is a place to have some fun and get comfortable, so if yours is too basic and boring, it’s doing your entire home a disservice. If you have rickety aluminum folding chairs that are always ready to snap shut while you’re sitting on them, or worse, cheap white plastic ones that are suitable for your first post-college apartment, it’s time to step up your game. The fix: Mostly any backyard, even the smallest, can accommodate a stylish pair of outdoor chairs and a stool that can take a turn as a side table. If budget is an issue, midsummer is usually a great time to sweep up steep deals on outdoor furnishings. This beautiful Toronto backyard also serves as an outdoor living room.