Tour this stylish open-concept condo.
Starring a diverse cast, tension and drama, this pared-back open-concept condo is anything but prosaic.
A great designer is a matchmaker, a trendsetter and, above all else, a storyteller. With the decor of this new-build condo’s main living area, Yanic Simard, founder and lead designer of Toronto Interior Design Group, proves he is among the greats. The scene in this 540-square-foot open-concept space was already set. Floor-to-ceiling windows spanning two entire sides of the condo flood it with sunshine and overlook the tree-lined streets of Toronto’s posh Yorkville neighbourhood and the city’s downtown skyline beyond. With such a lively setting, a restrained decorating approach was best, so neutral finishes were chosen in the form of sophisticated greyish-white wall paint, warm-toned wide-plank hardwood floors and cream-coloured kitchen cabinetry.
With a relatively blank slate established, the cooking/dining/living space was ready for some personality, so Yanic set about casting his characters, starting with the hero: “That custom blue sectional is the piece,” he says, adding that he had fabric samples sent from as far away as Europe and South America to find that “delicious” velvet. To fill the supporting roles, he animated the room with a small yet eclectic group, including a retro brass and glass coffee table, an Art Deco-inspired mirror, Mid-Century Modern-style dining furniture and traditional-meets-modern clear plastic kitchen stools. The vastly varied furnishings lend the space quiet tension, but it’s their shared low-slung silhouettes that create drama. “We wanted to make the ceiling – already impressive at 10 feet – appear even higher,” says Yanic, citing European apartments as inspiration. Dramatic, too, are the light fixtures. In the kitchen, a futuristic long-armed Serge Mouille-influenced piece is the antithesis of the classic Shaker-style cabinetry, but the fixture’s white finish humbles it. Meanwhile, the matching pendants over the living and dining areas hark back to the opulence of the Hollywood Regency period, but their size is modest and their shape simple. After all, much like the best narratives, the chicest rooms show off a skillful interplay of striking and soothing moments, so it’s no wonder this fanciful yet pared-back space earned a five-star review from the homeowners.
The living area plays host to all walks of (decor) life, amounting to a timeless look. though disparate, all the pieces abide by one rule: Nothing distracts from the million-dollar view of downtown Toronto.
“Don’t fight what the space is offering you,” says designer Yanic Simard, who selected floating furniture arrangements for the living and dining areas in order to respect the walls of windows behind them.
Yanic punctuated the space with a small selection of thoughtful accessories, such as the blue glassware, which reinforces the colour theme introduced by the sectional.
Like a pair of old hollywood starlets, the brass-framed crystal chandeliers in the dining and living areas are all sparkle, glitz and glam, yet these dames’ diminutive proportions and simple geometric shape keep them from stealing the show.
Visible behind the vintage wood-panelled herringbone-upholstered armchair, sheer drapery, used throughout the space, almost blends into the walls. the white fabric’s grey wavy pattern is interesting up close but unassuming from afar.
The Art Deco-style mirror takes advantage of the 10-foot-high ceiling. Beneath it, the super-long glossy black sideboard connects the dining area to the living zone and houses everything from napkins to DVDs.
The bold veined grey marble countertops and backsplash energize the traditional cream-toned kitchen cabinetry. The classic finishes get a dose of modernity from the contemporary light fixture and clear plastic stools.
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.
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.
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.