Homes - Interiors

Interior design: English eccentricity

Creating vibrant comfy rooms with personality is a passion for these homeowners.

This 1870s house in Toronto's Cabbagetown neighbourhood needed work, but for owners Sean Ward and Stephen Fillmore, the focus was more on restoration than renovation. Even though a lot of the original detail from the second and third floors was gone, they loved the way the house was designed, including the fact that rooms were separated by walls.

Creating welcoming rooms was important to the couple, who enjoy entertaining. "Comfort is big – not just for us, but for our guests," says Sean, an interior consultant and former creative associate for the decor and consignment shop Elliott & Ward. In fact, there isn't a space – from the kitchen and living room to the bath – that doesn't offer a down-filled chair to sink into.

Rooms are decorated with items collected over a lifetime. There's the kilim rug Sean bought in Egypt in the entry hall, the 300-year-old tray table in the living room, and the painting by the Group of Seven's J.E.H. MacDonald that Sean inherited in the dining room. "We love classic design, but we also try to inject a little humour," Sean says, pointing out whimsical pieces like a leopard-print carpet and artwork from his grade school days. The result is a look with an English sensibility – that slightly eccentric style of mixing periods of furniture and art, and patterns and textures.

"The British knew how to create a place to live in, not just a space to march through with a martini." The pair have been so successful at creating a cosy, livable home that at times guests don’t want to leave. "They say, 'I just want to grab a book and sit here in the corner,'" says Sean. "It's the best compliment we could get."

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Living room: "Mixing styles and textures makes decorating fun," says homeowner Sean Ward. He furnished the space with down-filled seating, small tables, a rush rug and table lamps for a cosy hangout. 

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