Tour this vibrant and modern Victorian.
When you put a fashion designer with a penchant for vintage fabrics in a dated Victorian home you get a veritable patchwork of past and present that's vibrant and modern, clean and historic.
When fashion designer Julia Grieve first saw the house she would eventually buy, it was dour and decrepit with a pack of raccoons cockily waddling around in the attic. "It was falling apart! I couldn't believe anyone would live here," she says of the four-bedroom 3,000 square-foot Victorian fixer-upper in Toronto's east end. After a year, Julia moved into the three-storey home with her husband, Doug, and their three children.
It's hard to believe the newly renovated space - now filled with super bright flourishes against a brilliant white backdrop - was ever so inhospitable. The year-long overhaul entailed stripping the building back to its bricks with the help of her cousins, designer Susan Shaw and renovator Andrew Shaw. "It was a period house, broken into many little rooms, but I wanted it to be modern and spacious," says Julia, referring to the main floor, which is now mostly open concept. A pocket door, staircase and fireplace mantel are the only original features left in the house, which had had the same owner for 70 years. "It was a real gut job," says Julia.
Colourful accents and playful patterns invigorate the modern living room. Homeowner Julia Grieve switches the toss cushions with the seasons - red at Christmastime and bright hues in spring. The quilted retro fabrics come from textiles that Julia comes across at work. Vintage sidechairs were reupholstered in a punchy black and white print; for fun, Julia painted their teak frames blue-grey.
Blue feature wall
A bold blue feature wall greets visitors in the entryway. "I think of blue as a staple - it's a go-to shade within wardrobes and interiors because it works so well with other colours," says Julia. "If you're going to commit to a hue on the wall, I'd always choose blue."
Instead of an enclosed formal dining room, a great room with a kitchen and dining area fits the family's easygoing lifestyle. The pocket door (another authentic feature) can be pulled shut (although it rarely is) to separate the eating areas from the living one.
Mismatched vintage china
On the dining table, mismatched vintage china makes for a cheery tablescape. "It's all about the mix of old and new to keep it from looking old-fashioned," says Julia, who regularly scours Goodwill, church fairs and Anthropologie for eclectic dishware. "You'll never find white plates in my house," she says.
Table runner and napkins
The key to using colour in both fashion and interior design, Julia explains, is striking a balance. "It's being classic and modern with an edge," she says. In the dining room an embroidered runner, bright napkins and placemats bring detail and flow nicely with Julia's love of pattern.
"The kitchen is my favourite room," says Julia. "The three kids love sitting at the kitchen island eating, laughing and doing homework." Shaker-style cabinetry provides textural interest in the mostly white space, which also features marble countertops and a dark-tiled backsplash to offset the lightness. The stool slipcovers, with their saturated swirls of royal blue, green and rusty orange, were once old, forgotten drapes.
Julia's kitchen boasts stainless-steel appliances giving it a sleek and clean look. She coaxes out her children's inner Picassos by showcasing their vibrant artwork in the kitchen. "They take such pride in their work and get excited about what goes up," she says. "This way, you never have a cluttered fridge door. Plus, it's a great way to introduce colour to the walls."
Colourful cottage living room with eclectic gallery wall.
Bright colours, eclectic furniture and treasured collections transform an old cottage into a cozy family retreat.When it comes to cottages boasting all the modern conveniences and square footage to spare, Toronto-based couple Mandi and Kevin Kimsa have one thing to say: No, thank you. “Our previous cottage in Muskoka was 6,000 square feet and more of a second home,” says Mandi. “We wanted to get away from that with something smaller that offered a more rustic experience for our family.”
“When you look at the living room’s gallery wall, it’s very much the Kimsas,” says Stephan. Featuring the kids’ artwork and family photos that were resined or framed, it’s a resolutely personal display. Stephan also added some interesting bird images that are echoed in the collection of owl sculptures and the blue jay toss cushion.
The deft balance of past and present is not the only trait all the rooms share. "Colour is very important here," says Stephen. "A cottage allows us to explore some interesting shades." The chosen colour palette exudes vibrancy, from turquoise to yellow to kelly green.
In the dining area, wooden beams mimic the original kitchen ceiling. Intentionally mismatched furniture feels like it was collected over time.
Steeped in history, the wooden kitchen cabinetry and island originates from the outbuilding of the Laura Secord homestead in Ontario’s Niagara region. The island encapsulates designer Stephan Howard’s old-meets-new approach with a front that features an 1880s painted door and a top that’s surfaced with durable Caesarstone.
A collection of jadeite dishes sourced by Stephan was the jumping-off point for the kitchen’s mint-hued appliances. “They were custom-made to match the dishes’ signature colour and have a retro look that’s perfect for a cottage,” he says.
The free-standing wood kitchen cabinet, a reproduction of an old general store display unit, cozies up the space.
Reclaimed wood panels (also from the Laura secord homestead) in the master bedroom provide a rustic backdrop for the beautifully dressed bed.
In the master bedroom, Stephan used a mix of styles and a dash of bold colour. The refined sensibility of the zinc-framed mirror and marble-topped dresser are offset by a circa-1900 door he sourced in Eastern Ontario. Clad in its original turquoise paint, which is now wonderfully distressed, it gives a rustic style to the room.
On the screened-in porch, a grouping of diverse furniture types, from woven to wooden to upholstered, offers a welcoming comfy vibe.
Designer Stephan Howard relaxes on the Kimsas’ screened-in porch.
"The porch overlooks the lake,” says homeowner Mandi Kimsa. “We have coffee here in the morning, relax after dinner and congregate to play cards and board games throughout the day.”
Stephan likes that the green cottage adds another dimension to the surrounding forest.
Luxe hardcore bundle, Brooklinen.
With the cooler weather coming it's time to prepare your home with these eight fall accessories that can warm up any night in.
If you tend to spend a bit more time keeping warm in bed on chilly fall nights, you might want to invest in quality bedding. Brooklinen’s buttery smooth sheet sets come in an assortment of stylish stripes and solid colours and have a bit of a sheen, which adds a luxurious feeling every time you slip between them. Made with long staple Egyptian cotton, you’ll appreciate the quality every night. Luxe hardcore bundle, Brooklinen, prices vary depending on size.
Crisp fall evenings mean turning up the heat in the house. But install a Nest thermostat and you’ll enjoy having your home at your ideal temperatures all day long while also making your home more energy efficient. You’ll be able to remotely control your home’s temperature from your smartphone, even if you’re traveling. All of this control means you’ll save money on your heating bills, too. Nest learning thermostat, Nest, $249.
This Indigo exclusive pillow cover unites the rich colours of autumn beautifully. Boasting gorgeous florals in earthy hues, this seasonal throw pillow is a simple way to bring a touch of fall into your home. Toss on a couch or bed for an instant facelift! Midnight floral pillow cover, Indigo, $30.
Classic. Iconic. Canadian. This signature HBC Collection striped point blanket’s popularity dates all the way back to the 1800s when it was first commissioned. Since then, this high quality, 100% woven wool blanket has never been out of production, a sure sign of its enduring style. Fall has never been cozier! Hudson’s Bay Company multi stripe point blanket, Hudson’s Bay, starting at $295.
Warm up the chilliest of days with a treat that the whole family will love. This premium cocoa powder is flavoured with natural vanilla to deliver a perfectly sweet cup of hot chocolate each and every time. Sweet ground chocolate, Williams-Sonoma, $15.95.
Blanket? Check. Hot drink? Check. Now you just need a good book to make your evening complete. Mindy Kaling to the rescue! If you watch The Mindy Project, have read her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, or secretly wish that Mindy was your real-life BFF, then you can’t miss out on her recently released second book Why Not Me? This collection of essays, though thoughtful and personal, is also just as hilarious as you’d expect from the queen of comedy. Why Not Me, Indigo, $20.
When it’s cold outside and all you want to do is stay snuggled up inside where it’s warm, you’ll be thankful you’ve got your AppleTV to keep you company. Bringing all the apps you love to use on your computer to life on your television screen means you can get really comfortable as you settle in to watch your favourite shows on iTunes, Netflix, Crackle, CraveTV, Shomi and other streaming services. Apple TV, Apple Store, from $199.
Keep those tootsies warm with these adorable, comfy reading socks. They’re made with just 12% wool so they’re cozy but not itchy. When regular socks just won’t do, these cable socks will be your perfect indoor companions. They make a great gift, too! Cabled cozy reading socks, Indigo, $29.50.
You'll love this fully furnished seaside escape.
A Vancouver-based design and renovation firm turns the tide on a fussily furnished seaside house, re-envisioning it as an inviting, livable retreat with crisp colours and ship-shape style.
From the outside, this West Vancouver beach house has it all. Poised among the breathtaking North Shore Mountains on almost an acre of waterfront property, with nary a neighbour in sight, its position 100 feet above sea level provides it with optimal views of the ocean - a real-life Arcadia just 20 minutes from downtown. Its pre-makeover interior, however, presented a different tableau. "It was pink with overstuffed furniture and Persian rugs everywhere. It didn't feel like a beach house or reflect its amazing setting," says Dave Leavitt, general manager of Vancouver's Fox Design Studio.
Dave and his team of designers - brother Ben Leavitt and friend Andrew Harvey - were tasked with transforming the 7,000-square-foot space into a comfortable weekend retreat.
Since its architectural bones (hardwood floors, generously proportioned light-filled rooms and custom mouldings and built-ins) required no reshaping, the four-month revamp was strictly cosmetic, although it was anything but small.
"The family room is all about the stone fireplace and the driftwood coffee table," says Dave Leavitt, general manager of Fox Design Studio. "They share an organic sensibility that brings the beauty of the landscape in and represents the tranquility of the beach and all of its colours."
The family room's sectional was custom made with a low profile so that it wouldn't impede the stunning views. Its warm grey tone grounds the space.
A whimsical chandelier crafted from old pop bottles was the starting point for the kitchen's eat-in area. "A breakfast nook should never be too fancy," says designer Ben Leavitt. "This fixture is very casual but has all the sparkle of chandelier." Navy and white upholstered chairs offer a crisp nautical-inspired look that suits the home's seaside setting.
The traditional white kitchen, with its recessed panel cabinetry and detailed mouldings and corbels, is freshened up with black bistro-style stools and pendant lights.
There's an obvious relaxed nautical style throughout the home, even in the dishware and table linens. But if you look closely you'll find hints of glamour, like the gold-tipped flatware.
A feature wall hand-painted by designer Andrew Harvey defines the master bedroom's sitting area. The whimsical sheep sculpture, originally peach-coloured, was painted white and chosen with the owners in mind. "They love animals," says Dave, "so we thought this would be a nice touch. It's also great here because the back of the sofa is seen from the bedroom, and this transforms it."
"A master bedroom should look relaxing," says Dave, "so we typically don't use bold colours, but rather textures and patterns." The custom nightstands feature reclaimed railway posts that provide a rustic counterpoint to the show-stopping ceiling. "We highlighted the domed ceiling above the bed by silver leafing it. It took more than 20 hours to do but was worth it, since the shimmery finish creates depth and drama."
Grasscloth accent walls in the living room and master bedroom amp up the warmth factor while blending in with ease.
The spectacular ocean view can be enjoyed from the clawfoot tub or the window bench in the master ensuite.
Delicate organic touches can be found throughout the home.
Nothing like Mother Nature to inspire a beautiful home renovation.