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Prize Value: $1,079.00
Two styles combine to create this gorgeous farmhouse retreat.
Two styles combine to create this gorgeous farmhouse retreat.
Designer Viki Mansell blends contemporary and rustic styles with tons of texture and original artwork to create a fabulous farmhouse retreat.
Viki Mansell has an indisputable take on artwork in the home: “You can have beautiful design, but if you have a ghastly piece of art, that’s all anyone will look at.” It’s a conviction reflected in her two Toronto home furnishing stores, Absolutely and Absolutely North, which, in addition to offering furniture and decorative accessories, feature a range of artwork, from photographs and paintings to lithographs and drawings. “Most people are confident when picking out paint colours and furniture,” says Viki, “but few train their eyes for buying art – especially when it’s for a farmhouse.” The farmhouse referred to here belongs to one of Viki’s clients, an avid art collector, who enlisted the designer to transform a turn-of-the-century rural property into a picture-perfect retreat.
Situated north of Toronto, the 3,600-square-foot brick house was definitely in need of some serious loving care, but fortunately, its original floor plan required little finessing. So while the space was gutted to remedy old electrical, insufficient insulation and dated finishes, the staircase remained in its original position, and wherever possible, other features – such as the hardwood flooring upstairs, all the interior doors and the tongue-and-groove ceilings in the kitchen and dining room – were kept intact. Viki replaced the downstairs flooring, which couldn’t be saved, with butternut planks sourced and prepared by an arborist. The only structural changes were the addition of a fireplace flanked by French doors in the living room and the repositioning of an upstairs wall. “We siphoned off square footage from one of the three bedrooms to increase the size of the second-floor bathroom,” says Viki.
Once renovated, the house was ready to receive its artistic flourishes. “My vision was to maintain the farmhouse’s structural integrity while infusing it with a modern rustic overlay,” says Viki. This vision was inspired by the home’s setting. “The palette was drawn from the surrounding countryside, so we highlighted the neutral walls with furnishings in caramel, burnt orange and maple red.”
Viki’s choice of furniture amplifies the contemporary mood. “Comfort was a priority, but the furniture is tailored – there’s no overstuffing or rolled arms, just the simplicity of the lines,” she says. It’s a simplicity that extends to the windows on the main level, which were purposely left unadorned. “The homeowner didn’t want window coverings to distract from the beautiful views outside and the artwork on the walls.” It’s apparent that art is an essential design element, as it’s displayed everywhere from the dining and living rooms to less expected spots like above the bathtub and in the mud room. “While the artwork would look great anywhere, it truly complements this space,” says Viki. “It belongs here.” There’s no debating that.
“In the living room, I wanted to create a convivial sitting area focused on the fireplace,” says designer Viki Mansell.
The bucolic surroundings inspired Viki’s approach to the farmhouse’s palette and design.
Custom made from butternut, the living room sideboard features a black powder-coated steel base that ties in with the TV and the interior door, which Viki had painted black.
A 19th-century carpenter’s bench is used as a console and styled with modern pieces like a Tizio task lamp and Rothko poster in the mud room.
The kitchen, featuring rift-cut oak veneer-fronted cabinets, limestone countertops and a hand-applied plaster backsplash, has a simple charm belying its luxury.
In the dining room, a wooden trestle table combined with Italian leather chairs and a graphic light fixture capture the contemporary farmhouse aesthetic.
The living room’s slate-fronted fireplace encapsulates Viki’s take on turn of the century meets contemporary. “The mantel has a pared-back design, yet it’s crafted from 19th-century pilasters,” she says. The lithograph above the fireplace is by Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies.
A bathtub surround and vanity made of 150-year-old pine warm up the all-white second-floor bathroom.
The antique rug was the jumping-off point for the master bedroom. “I wanted the room to be cozy, so I chose a warm red fabric for the headboard and bedskirt,” says Viki.
A mix of textures lends interest to the upstairs hallway; the art by Ian Gray adds colour.
Mixed Metals Pot, Terrain.
It's time to update your home decor for the new year and we've got the perfect 10 items to help.
You did it! You survived the holidays and hopefully your wallet did, too. But if you’ve got plans to shake things up at home this year, there’s no need to panic at prices. You can give your home a whole new look in 2016 with budget-friendly items that are big on style but small on cost. We’ve done the legwork and sourced 10 pieces that’ll help reinvigorate your home without breaking the bank – and they’re all under $50!
We all know that rugs can cost a fortune but if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful way to update a space, this pretty patterned rug is just the thing. In a lovely neutral combo of grey and white, it will fit in easily with most colour palettes. It’s 100% cotton, which means that it can be machine washed. Score! Patterned Cotton Rug, H&M Home, $29.99.
This little piece is perfect for planting pretty succulents and bringing the outdoors in, especially during long winter days. The pot is brushed with metallic paint to create a gleaming gold finish. You’ll love the difference this makes to any room in your home. Mixed Metals Pot, Terrain, $8.
Get those photos off your computer and turn them into a piece of artwork you’ll cherish for years to come. This photo collage is completely customizable. Simply choose eight photos, maybe of your family or of your travels and choose from 15 different frame options to create wall art that will not only look great but will bring a smile to your face every time you walk by and relive the memories. Square Frame and Print, Minted, $42.
Well, we just can’t resist this beautiful butterfly hook. Hang a single hook or a series in your hallway for coats, in the bedroom for loose clothing pieces or in the bathroom for towels. However you decide to use these hooks, they’re sure to become a favourite statement piece in your home. Golden Butterfly Hook, Zara Home, $13.90.
The simple addition of a decor piece like this one can add oodles of interest to a desk or coffee table. This structural spike sphere is a work of art in and of itself and we just love the shiny gold finish. And at this price, you could consider buying more than one to cluster and create a pretty vignette. Gold Spike Decor Sphere, Indigo, $29.50.
Scented candles will update the look, feel and fragrance of your home and these scented soy candles, which come in an embossed metal tin are just perfect for that job! Not only are the tins gorgeous, but they can also be used for odds and ends once the candle has burned out. They’re available in two rich fragrances and you’ll get 40 hours of burn time out of them. Moroccan Embossed Metal Candle, Urban Outfitters, $30.
It may be dark and dreary outside but you can easily bring the feeling of spring into your home by switching out pillow covers. This pretty watercolour floral patterned cover is made with 100% Belgian flax and is washed for a unique, shabby chic look. Belgian Linen Pillow Cover, West Elm, $44.
This sweet Admiral Hanging Mirror from Anthropologie is perfect for a foyer as a last-look mirror before you head out the door. Made with iron and glass and hung from a jute rope, this mirror is an easy way to fill a blank space stylishly and inexpensively. Plus, it’s got a full felt back so it won’t scratch your wall. Admiral Hanging Mirror, Anthropologie, $18 - $24.
Simple votive candles will assume a whole new pride of place in your home when displayed in these stunning lantern holders. Available in a soft brushed gold, they will look spectacular clustered on a coffee table or dining table as a centrepiece. Or hang them like lanterns for a more dramatic look. Golden Lantern Votive, BHLDN, $8.
A copper storage basket will add both form and function to your home. Not only will it look great but it will also provide a handy spot for all kinds of items around the house that need a home, like magazines or throw blankets. Copper Wire Storage Basket, CB2, $27.95.
Expert fall home organizing tips
Professional organizer Estelle Gee gives her best home organizing tips for fall.
Blending style with practicality, Estelle Gee, director of Orderly Lives, has made a career out of helping others get organized. Here she shares some of her best home organizing tips and tricks to help you get your house ready for fall.
Simple home organizing solutions
Back-to-school home organizing
If you have children, then fall is extra busy -- not only do you have to get yourself organized and your home prepared for the oncoming cold, but you also have to get ready for back-to-school. Here are Estelle Gee's best home organizing tips to help get you and your family ready for school.
Outdoor fall home organizing ideas
With the lazy days of summer coming to a close, it's time to concentrate on organizing the outdoor living space and exterior of your home. Get your house winter ready before the cold rolls in with these simple outdoor organizing ideas.
Fall home organizing accessories
A few of Estelle Gee's favourite home organizing accessories: