A kitchen boasting restaurant-design pedigree
Trendy meets traditional in this family home built from scratch.
Homeowner Tanya Krpan (pictured here) saved on accessories by loading the family room sectional with an assortment of ready-made toss cushions.
Tanya isn’t afraid to play with negative space, as seen in the home’s grand entryway. “Normally, you’d expect a mirror or big piece of art hanging above the wainscotting,” she says. Leaving the wall blank and layering small pieces on the console allows the millwork to shine.
Black casement windows and decorative accents create contrast in the neutral space. Tanya scored the vintage coffee table when her office was being redecorated.
The family room’s classic-cool mix feels right for a young family.
The kitchen, of course, is the true star of the show. Tanya’s restaurant-design pedigree shines through in the room’s floor-to-ceiling tiles, mix of open and closed storage and high-end appliances. She opted for white Shaker-style cabinetry and warmed up the space with a walnut island and brass hardware statement lighting and fixtures.
Another bistro-inspired touch was her choice of dark honed-limestone tiles for most of the main floor. “The tile grounds the space since there’s an abundance of white everywhere,” Tanya explains. “And it’s proven great for hiding dirt.”
Everything in the Krpans’ home is designed for everyday life and entertaining, from the large sectional in the family room to the round tables in the dining room and the kitchen’s eat-in area. “It’s more social to sit at a round table,” says Tanya. “You see everyone’s faces.”
Cabinets with glass doors allow Tanya to display her favourite serving pieces and special glassware. She had the back of the kitchen cabinets tiled to highlight this focal point of the kitchen.
Tanya and Jure – with their sons, Ivan, 3, and Cruz, 2 – have recently welcomed a baby girl named Belle.
The living room’s crisp white, grey and black scheme gets an energy boost from fresh greenery, pops of pink and plenty of pattern – check out the Moroccan-style rug, the ikat-print and chevron-patterned toss cushions and the graphic stool fabric.
To offset the costs of the more expensive permanent elements, Tanya was meticulous with her decorating budget. She incorporated secondhand pieces, such as the family room coffee table, and sourced inexpensive art for the living room mantel. Affordable colourful accessories add youthful edginess to the living spaces. “I love the femininity that the splashes of pink add to the living room and family room,” she says. “Plus, by the time I got to the decorating, I was living with three boys!”
In the dining room, Tanya likes the juxtaposition of the modern Sputnik-inspired chandelier with the traditional coffered ceiling. The artwork was a DIY project Tanya and Jure painted together on her 30th birthday.
Though this house has been well loved for years, there’s a sequel in the works: Tanya and Jure are in the process of building a new home. “We’ll keep some of the same elements but go a little more modern in the kitchen,” says Tanya. We’ll definitely stay tuned.
Image: Stacey Brandford / Styling: Christine Hanlon
Nest maker, know thyself. Here’s how one designer used self-reflection and simplicity to do up her Toronto Victorian.
“There are thousands of inspiring ideas out there,” says designer Melanie Hay, referring to the wellspring of online home decor images, blogs and shops. “You can literally research for months. But in the end, the best design is born of self-discovery. The more you understand who you are and how you live, the better the odds that the rooms you create will be rooms that you love.”
Melanie should know. When she and her husband, Andrew, an entrepreneur, purchased a tall, narrow Victorian in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood about four years ago, they were two people without a plan – but with about 3,000 square feet of empty space. Needless to say, to a designer like Melanie, this blank canvas meant instant inspiration overload. “My mind was swimming with decorating schemes,” she recalls. “Deep down, though, I knew Andrew and I are nesters, and when we walked in the door, we would want to come home to a space that echoes our life stories.” This is where her approach to decorating the house started.
But it was not as easy as it sounds. “From the beginning, I had to acknowledge that Andrew and I don’t share the same taste,” she says. Melanie loves white; Andrew prefers dark wood. Something had to give. The house already had the towering black doors and high-gloss black banister they both liked, so the couple let these details inspire the look. “Plus, we already owned a black and white rug, a round table with a dark top and a black leather Eames chair, so why not use them?” adds Melanie. Red- and peach-painted walls were redone in shades of light and shadow. Such was the start of what is now the home’s signature black and white colour scheme.
And a little self-reflection went a long way when it came to deciding what to hang on the walls. “Although we appreciate fine art, personal mementoes that connect us to our families matter more,” says Melanie. This realization became the inspiration for the dining room gallery wall. Gathering a few favourite prints, posters and paintings, the designer created a dynamic visual mash-up. The result is a sophisticated yet personal design element. One added bonus? It was totally budget-friendly. “I paired gold-framed heirloom pieces with newer prints in inexpensive white frames to unite the random collection,” explains Melanie. And since not many are forever pieces, she adds or subtracts on a whim. “There are a lot of nail holes in that wall!” she says with a laugh.
In many ways, this ever-evolving approach is a reflection of Melanie’s creativity. “Unlike the homes I design for clients, which are done in one sweep, my house changes constantly. I’ve become incredibly good at moving furniture, which must drive Andrew crazy. This house will never be truly finished,” she says. “And if it ever is, I’ll probably just start over!”
Homeowner and designer Melanie Hay paired her husband’s steel-topped dining table with chairs she bought on Craigslist. “I’ve reupholstered the seats two times already,” she says. Right now, they bear a sophisticated charcoal linen that accentuates the dark walls and striped rug.
“It’s been a bedside table, an end table and a catch- all,” says Melanie of the bar cart she purchased years ago. “Finally, it’s a bar!” The cart is low, however, and the home’s ceilings are very high. To draw the eye upward, she added a painting and a wall-mounted metal stag bust above it.
Melanie scoured big-box stores for large-scale artwork to act as stand-ins for the forever pieces that will eventually accent her living room. That way, she doesn’t have to live with blank walls while she searches for the perfect investments.
The house was built in the early 1900s, but its contemporary fireplace mantel and furnishings achieve an eclectic mix that feels right at home in the space. “If you can’t afford to do a house all at once,” advises Melanie, “then do one room at a time. That way you can afford to invest in key pieces.”
“Decorating one room completely and then carrying that look to the next allows you to really establish a cohesive aesthetic throughout the house,” says Melanie, who started with the living room and finished with the master bedroom, which echoes the rest of the home’s light-meets-dark and modern-meets-traditional themes.
Use fresh peaches for this delicious dessert recipe.
Our delicious crumbly topped buckle comes with a hit of sour cream for a dessert that’s peach perfect!
Fuzzy peaches are ripe for the pickin’ right now, so make the most of their juicy sweetness by baking a moist and tender coffee cake.
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
2 With the mixer still running, add in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the sour cream and almond extract.
3 Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4 Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients to the wet in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
5 Butter and flour a 9" round deep-dish pie pan.
6 Pour half of the batter evenly into the pie pan and layer 2 cups of the peach slices overtop.
7 Repeat with the remaining batter and peach slices.
8 To make the streusel topping, in a small bowl, work together the butter and the flour with your fingers until a coarse meal forms. Stir in the almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of the peach slices.
9 Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the buckle comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream on the side.
Serves: 8 to 10
Take a tour of Debbie Travis's gorgeous Tuscan paradise.
Debbie Travis takes on the renovation challenge of a lifetime to create the perfect vacation property for hosting ladies' getaways.
Converting an ancient Tuscan farm on a UNESCO World Heritage Site into a dream home with modern amenities comes with its challenges (piles of permits, a litany of limitations and language barriers to boot), even for an icon who’s built her celebrity around tackling tough renos. When homeowner and decorating guru Debbie Travis bought the rundown 100- acre Italian property, she was beginning a new chapter in her life. She was ready to devote her time, energy and just about every waking thought to transforming the 13th-century-watchtower-turned-farm into a luxury vacation retreat for women of all ages. Accommodating up to 24 guests, Debbie Travis’s Tuscan Girls’ Getaway is a place for visitors to connect and escape the everyday. “It’s been a labour of love,” says Debbie of the project that’s consumed her for five years. “Every square inch of this space has a story – often a painful one.”
The juxtaposition of old and new is a theme carried through the whole property, from the simple contemporary furnishings indoors and out to the bright and near-neon accents that bring freshness to the antique setting. But only a splash of colour was needed: “I wanted the natural elements of stone and metal to shine, and it’s so vibrant outside year-round, thanks to the Tuscan blue sky and verdant surroundings,” says Debbie.
Indeed, the site’s 900 olive trees (some of which are 800 years old) stay green all year long, and from them, Debbie extracts high-quality olive oil that’s sold online. She’s still perfecting the wine that comes from the grapes in her vineyards, and she uses her lavender harvest to produce body and essential oils. “It started as a hobby farm but has since become quite a passion,” she says. But this farm – and Debbie’s new chapter – is really about creating a retreat in which like-minded women from all over the world can recharge. And in such a storied home, in this perfectly pastoral setting, under the hot Tuscan sun, guests invariably find themselves beginning their own new chapters.
This ancient-guard-tower- cum-women’s-retreat sits on 100 acres of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany, Italy. on it, you’ll find a lavender field, a veggie garden, an olive orchard, a vineyard, multiple dining areas, an infinity pool, a bocce court, a yoga area, a firepit and 200-year-old pomegranate trees that yield enough juice to freeze for winter.
“We pick lemons here every morning,” says homeowner Debbie Travis of the potted trees on this terrace, which is outfitted with modern citrus-green- accented chairs to match.
From searching sprawling avant-garde design shows to trawling Europe’s biggest antiques markets, shopping for materials was a highlight for Debbie (pictured). “I’d drive to spots in France, Italy and England and load up my truck,” she says. One of her favourite sites is L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in France, where an entire town transforms into an antiques market twice annually. “I drove 11 hours to get there,” says Debbie. “When I saw it, it took my breath away.”
Debbie found these cool director’s chairs at an antiques market. She echoed their simple sacking fabric on the headboard and toss cushions in one of the guest rooms.
The semi-industrial kitchen, where cooking classes take place, boasts two dishwashers and a range customized with eight elements, a grill and a pasta cooker. In addition to the oversized appliance, Debbie insisted on a 16.5-foot-long island countertop, despite being warned it would look ridiculous. But when it arrived, she hated it. So, amid curses from her kitchen designer, Debbie had it replaced with a 13-foot- long one. It took 20 people to carry in the second slab of volcanic rock, which, at the last minute, was dropped and smashed. As they say, third time’s the charm.
Debbie considered absolutely everything, right down to the smallest details, from choosing the tiny air vent grates to opting for stone window lintels instead of wooden ones. “Even deciding on the thickness of the terracotta tiles for the windowsills – I nearly died,” she says with a laugh. Hits of pink brighten the vintage chair and bistro table. “I never touch a natural patina,” says Debbie of their distressed finishes. “Nobody can recreate that, not even me.”
For the dramatic stairs, Debbie used the same hot-rolled steel as she did on the kitchen floor of her former home in Montreal. “It stays cool in the heat and has a lovely grey tone,” she says. Set two inches from the wall and lined with strip lighting, the contemporary staircase seems to hover by the original stone wall to stunning effect.
The guest rooms are wrapped in a serene white and grey envelope, but each features a bold accent hue carried from the headboard to the bedding (here, it’s denim blue).
In one petite bathroom, a pair of ruffled sinks by Italian designer Paola Navone is set in a floating slab of live-edge olive wood. Each guest room and ensuite is totally different (“Visitors always have fun checking each other’s out,” says Debbie), but all the mirrors are the same: they look normal but have built-in defoggers and lights that, when turned on, create the perfect setting to apply makeup (“they’re so great, guests have even arranged to have them delivered to their own homes after visiting,” she says).
In Debbie’s master bathroom, a sleek tub and faucet are paired with antique wood details and old-world-look cement tiles. “When each is used with restraint, old looks spectacular juxtaposed with new,” she says.
Partial walls divide guest rooms from their ensuite bathrooms, lending the illusion of more space and allowing full views of the stunning ceilings. “They’re like art,” says Debbie. after visiting a ton of lighting shows, she worked with an expert to design her own modern, minimal touch lights, which are adhered to the bedroom walls as reading lamps.